While covering the content management industry, we get to meet many interesting people. Today, we’ll focus on those that are young, wicked smart beyond their age and extraordinarily accomplished -- those that you want to keep an eye on.

With that, we present you the top 5 most talented C-level executives in the CMS world (who are 35 or younger).

The Why

Not to disappoint our often geeky audience, but no fancy scientific formula was used in putting together this list. Mere talent, smarts, professional accomplishments, innovation and the level of activity in the industry (good looks and levels of oenophilia didn’t count) is what went into the judge’s decision.

Pure awesomeness is what we looked for. The selection is not all-inclusive, nor is it entirely objective.

The Who

Hence this is not really a competition; we present the industry’s bright stars, the Empire-States of the CMS skyline, in a purely alphabetical order and let them talk about themselves and give us a peek into their lives at and outside of work.

Arje Cahn

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CTO of open source One Hippo, Cahn (31) is the main techie brain behind Hippo CMS.

Place of Birth

Near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the lovely village of Laren

Education

I studied Artificial Intelligence at the University of Amsterdam. During high school, and later during college, I wrote robotics software for motion controlled cameras, which was in a real pioneering phase back then but used in pretty much every movie nowadays.

Didn't make it to a degree - I was too restless and started my own company instead. Next to my professional work, I followed courses in Business Administration and management.

Professional Highlights (What are You Proud of?)

  • Being invited as a Member at the Apache Software Foundation.
  • Going across the pond and acquiring Bluesunrise in San Francisco, which was our introduction into the US market.
  • I'm proud of my team, and how smart they actually are. All I can be proud of for myself is that I managed to get the right people together in a room (or on a mailing list).
  • I'm proud to have co-founded a company that is still there after 10 years and two economic crises, and I'm proud of the level of expertise you get when sticking with a concept for so long.
  • I'm proud that we have a product that not just sells to the executives, but that also appeals to end-users, developers and sysadmins.

How Landed in the CMS Industry

As a child, at the age of 11, I operated a small bulletin board running RA. I got frustrated by the static behavior of bulletin boards, which drove me to write an application that contained something that you'd now call a hypertext server, as well as a graphical client to render pages across a modem connection. It never made it, of course, but the idea stuck and when the www came to be, I was completely sold to it.

In 1998, as part of my Artificial Intelligence studies, I worked on natural language algorithms and got interested in automatically generating metadata from natural text. I was gathering natural text (content!) for my studies, and at the same time I was working on a community website for robotics in the film industry. I wrote that first CMS not just to drive the website, but the larger goal was to use the data that the community members generated for my studies. My partners back then were smart enough to recognize that this was something we could actually form a company around - and that's how we started Hippo.

Things You Love and Hate About Your Job

Love:

  • Being surrounded by really smart people.
  • Building something. Watching it grow and get better.
  • Finding simplicity in things
  • Working online
  • Seeing the world and meeting people

Hate:

  • Not a lot, really.
  • Maybe the "me-too" syndrome that the industry seems to be stuck in every now and then.

Life Outside of Work

  • Taking care of my two lovely little daughters
  • Before that, I used to be a very active oarsman
  • As a professional oddity, I like reading books that contain lots of context, especially journals like Linnaeus' travels through Lappland, Van Gogh's letters and Samuel Pepys' secret diary
  • I can get very excited from a good glass of wine, a cheese platter and some fig bread. And a conversation about context and metadata.

Where to Find You Online

David Nuescheler

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CTO of Day Software, Nuescheler (35) holds many other titles, including the JCP star spec lead.

A typical Scorpio, Nuescheler is surrounded by a veil of secrecy. So, here's a little more info to balance out his "thin" Life Outside of Work (see below) contribution.

Also known as Uncle D, polymath Nuescheler is a Java brainiac. Ask him about micro-jax. Yet, there’s one type of Java he is not very fond of. So don’t be shocked when you see him consuming massive amounts of iced tea (to be exact -- two liters for a two-hour meeting, according to our sources).

If you don’t see him on Apache.org mailing lists, try checking foursquare, which he thinks is “awesome.”  Simple check-ins would not be very Nuescheler, as he goes into solving technical venues-to-be-merged issues and giving geography lessons on his hometown.

Place of Birth

Basel, Switzerland

Education

Studies in computer science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Professional Highlights (What are You Proud of?)

When I joined Day Software more than 15 years ago, the company was called Bidule. It is located in a former sausage factory on the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland, close to the French and German borders, and not far from good skiing in the Alps. As chief technology officer, I have been significantly involved in growing Day Software from a small multimedia agency to a global content management solution company.

I am also involved in Open Source and Open Standards as a member of the Apache Software Foundation and a committer on various projects as well the spec lead for JSR (170 and 283) (aka JCR), and the liaison and an active member on the OASIS CMIS technical committee.

How Landed in the CMS Industry

As a company we transitioned from being a Interactive CD-ROM and games manufacturer to becoming an interactive web agency to becoming a WCM vendor. I would say I didn't "land" in WCM, but WCM landed with me. I think external facing WCM is one of the most vibrant sectors in software altogether, as it combines the mission critical aspects of enterprise computing with an injection of agility and dynamics of the web age.

Things You Love and Hate About Your Job

I love working with a brilliant team at Day that thinks of how to advance content management and the web in general, through ground breaking research and contributions to the general public. Working with internationally acclaimed experts beyond the WCM space in expert groups, standards committees and open source projects is what broadens the horizon. WCM is a subject matter where I can learn every single Day from our customer base.

Life Outside of Work

(Editor's note: take #1) Life outside work?
(Editor's note: take #2) I am a passionate cook and a notorious "taste tester" and a massive consumer of iced tea, since I don't drink "java."

Where to Find You Online

Dries Buytaert

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Buytaert (31) is the main driver behind the wildly successful open source Drupal CMS and the CTO of Acquia.

Place of Birth

Antwerp, Belgium

Education

I'm a techie. I obtained a PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Ghent. Prior to my PhD, I got a Licentiate in Computer Science from the University of Antwerp.

Professional Highlights (What are You Proud of?)

Being invited to the White House (which now runs on Drupal).

How Landed in the CMS Industry

By accident. I started Drupal because I needed an internal message board, and because I enjoyed experimenting with new web technology. Slowly, that message board evolved into a CMS.

Things You Love and Hate About Your Job

I love working with the Drupal community. Not only are there many fun and interesting people to work with, I very much enjoy Drupal's culture of openness, collaboration and innovation. It's amazing what we accomplished together to date, and some of the things we're currently working on are very exciting.

I love working with the people at Acquia. I was fortunate enough to be able to hire people that are much smarter than me, and as a result, I enjoy being able to learn from them on a daily basis. I like being a sponge, and I like being surrounded by people that work really hard andthat know what they are doing. I love the start-up culture that we've built.

As Drupal and Acquia continue to grow, it is hard to stay on top of everything that is happening, or even to keep up with e-mail. I'm often spread thin, and as a result, I feel like I don't often respond fast enough. That is what I don't like about my current situation, but I do think it's a problem that can be solved.

Life Outside of Work

I have two kids, so I like doing fun things with my family. One of my favorite activities is jumping on the bed with my 2.5-year-old son -- we try to do that every night for at least 15 minutes. Other than that, I'm a hopeless amateur at photography, and I like to play tennis and ski.

Where to Find You Online

I blog at http://buytaert.net and I twitter at http://twitter.com/Dries. Other than that, I live in the issue queues on http://drupal.org.

Eric Barroca

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CEO of open source Enterprise CMS Nuxeo, Barroca doesn’t like to be praised for his age. Yet, he is the youngest on this top 5 list at the age of 28.

Place of Birth

Saint Doulchard, France

Education

No post-secondary academics, I exited high school at the age of 17

Professional Highlights (What are You Proud of?)

At 17, I started as a freelance developer, worked for major website at the peak of the “dot com” 1.0 era, later worked at a startup (linbox.com) for a year, resigned to become freelance trainer in open source technologies. I joined Nuxeo in 2001, when the company was only 4 people and 6 months old. From there I've grown with the company becoming CEO in 2009 I've been presales/sales guy, project director, VP of operations and I have managed/touched pretty much all aspect of the company -- easier when
you're 5 people :-).

How Landed in the CMS Industry

I worked a bit in the CMS world before Nuxeo, but the game really started at Nuxeo when we started CPS in 2003. CPS was a collaborative document management system based on the Zope platform. CPS was the Nuxeo "Collaborative Portal Server" - a cool user experience, flexibility, overall functional paradigm. CPS was very flexible and full featured, I would say ahead of his time, actually. But, as a young company, we neglected to invest in the marketing efforts to showcase its strengths - so a valuable lesson learned about ensuring great technology gets its story out to potential users.

We used this experience, as a company, to build today's Nuxeo Enterprise Platform, which was developed in Java in 2005. I'm very passionate about the topic of content management, since I've pretty much spent the last 10 years (and all my professional life) in this space. I am deeply involved in Nuxeo product choices / strategy, technical/architecture orientation, marketing strategy, positioning and key sales effort. But I've never really done any meaningful coding, actually. My team is way better than me at transforming a product vision into working software.

Things You Love and Hate About Your Job

What I love: Actually building a company and the team powering it. Everything from imagining the strategy, working with the whole team to define and execute it, designing products, talking with customers and partners to understand their business, seeking for talents.

What I hate: There aren't many things I 'hate', actually, there is just bad aspects to deal with. Worst ones being: having a team member not work out and letting them go or piloting the company through tough times when cash flow was tight.

Life Outside of Work

I work long hours, but have a passion for good food, love to experience interesting and unusual cuisine when traveling, and cooking for friends. I cook French food mainly, of course, but very open on anything good actually.
Important point is: made with fresh stuff I get from the local market. I enjoy choosing and buying some nice fresh things and make some plan how to prepare them. The most recent experiment was with black truffles when in season earlier this year.

I read constantly and love my Kindle. I often have 2-3 books on the go, usually current events, world analysis and biographies.

Where to Find You Online

Niels Hartvig

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Founder of Umbraco -- open source and “friendly” CMS -- Hartvig (31) is too shy to put himself in the C-level position, but he really is the mastermind behind the successful Umbraco that has more than 250k downloads in 2009 and more than 7,000 active community members.

(Photo credit: Douglas Robar)

Place of Birth

Outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Education

By miracle I managed to pass high school but that's it as...

How Landed in the CMS Industry

I got straight into the CMS industry from high school in 1997 and apparently liked it enough to never really leave it. I got hired in 1997 as a web developer for a Danish company called "Snabel & Co" that produced what is likely to be the first Danish CMS - Site In A Box (SIAB). However, when I started what we did wasn't called CMS. It was referred to as Online Administration Systems and likewise until a day in 1998, when our Managing Director called us together and told us that what we did was now called CMS. As he was talking to a handful us geeks the response was giggling and "why-is-that-important" type of sentences. Little did we know!

In 1999-2000, I went freelance and swore never to do CMS again, fed up with mostly doing website implementations and not improving the CMS. After six months of producing 3D online games, I was back in web development and it didn't take long until I had to admit I was on my way to producing a CMS again. Despite the insane number of CMSes that existed, I decided that mine had something special, and in 2003 I bought the domain "Umbraco" and decided to believe in doing it full time. In late 2004, the beta of "Umbraco CMS" as open source came, and in February 2005 it was finally an official release. With a few bumps along the way the past five years have been incredible.

Professional Highlights (What are You Proud of?)

Founder of Umbraco. The most popular .NET based CMS in Europe.

Things You Love and Hate About Your Job

I love being at the fore front of a big change - open source - going on in the software industry in general and the CMS industry in full effect. I love how Umbraco and the community of Umbraco really is being more and more successful. And how I've managed to help keeping the focus of Umbraco to be simple but extensible, despite the ongoing pressure for more complexity. I believe the world needs simpler solutions.

Hate is a strong word, but I wish the CMS world was a little less conservative. I also wish we could split "Web CMS" from "Enterprise CMS"  -- the latter has no "Web" in its "DNA" just like a Web CMS is much more about handling presentation than managing documents. Oh, I do hate one thing: the term "Portal. That is pure nonsense.

Life Outside of Work

My wonderful family, of course. Even though my three kids prevents me from getting my fantasy car(A Tesla Roadster powered by a local windturbine. 0-60 in four seconds powered by wind.)! In the few moments without Umbraco and family, you'll likely find me tweaking sounds on my ever growing collection of synthesizers or experimenting with molecular gastronomy.

I've been fascinated by synthesizers since my sister introduced me to Depeche Mode in mid-80’s. In the last couple of years, I've started collecting the old analogue synths that I drooled at back when MTV actually showed music videos. The current collection of six hardware synths contains good old classics, such as a Roland Juno-106 and a SH-101.

I've loved cooking for ages and while chocolate is my major indulgence, I got a hold of the El Bulli Texturas Starter Kit last year and that's loads of fun. Molecular gastronomy is yet another great way to combine the geeky passion with something that I can share with my wife, even though she does think I'm an idiot, when I spend half a day making weird orange spheres, Cafe Latte Caviar and fake spaghetti of liquidized herbs.

Where to Find You Online

I'm @umbraco on Twitter. In real life, I'm often found at CMS events including the Gilbane SF and JBoye.

Epilogue

So, now you know how the most talented CMS execs found their way into the industry and what they do when AFK. Keep an eye on these guys, we’re pretty sure you’ll hear about them and their accomplishments more in the future. Purely by accident, all of them are either in open source, or support OSS outside their proprietary worlds. None of them are women. Sign of times?