Backupify Moves to Boston, Shifts Focus to Help Businesses Manage Google Apps Data
This is the story of a little tech startup that recently has relocated to Boston. The company started in late 2008 by focusing on a consumer problem: helping people back up their e-mail and social media data from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and so on. Now it has adjusted its strategy to sell the technology to businesses—which seems to be the key to making money in online data management these days. And, OK, its name is kind of fun too.
Backupify is led by co-founder and CEO Rob May, a former hardware engineer from the communications industry. May started the company in his hometown of Louisville, KY. This past February, the company raised $900,000 in seed funding led by First Round Capital. General Catalyst Partners, Betaworks, and a number of individual investors also participated. That led Backupify to move its headquarters to Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, where it occupies office space right below General Catalyst.
The company is announcing today that its software-as-a-service is now broadly available for businesses to use with Google Apps. That means small and medium-size companies that use Google software like Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Sites can use Backupify to archive, export, and back up those kinds of data online. The backup is done daily, and automatically, to Amazon Web Services’ S3 data storage system. One challenge for a young startup, of course, is how to distribute its products. So instead of building a big sales force to call on potential customers directly, Backupify is relying on consultants and partners who sell services to IT administrators in companies.
Until recently, Backupify has mainly been a free service for consumers. But it already has about 70 companies testing a beta version of the software being released today. And it’s clear that this is the business plan from here on out. “I expect this to be the bulk of our revenues over the next year,” May says.
Backupify currently has three employees in the Boston area, and is looking to hire three more on the software development side. The rest of the company’s staff of about 10 resides in Kentucky and Ukraine. May, for his part, splits his time between Louisville and Boston. He says the Boston area has been “very welcoming” to him and his company.
Nevertheless, Backupify faces plenty of competition in online data management. On the backup and recovery side of things, there are services like Mozy (part of Decho, owned by EMC), Carbonite, Symantec, and various startups such as Symform and Datacastle in Seattle. The partnership with Google helps Backupify stand out, and it also makes sense for Google, which has been making a big push in software for businesses recently.
But there’s a deeper concept to Backupify as well, which could serve it well down the road. Despite its name, the company isn’t just about backing up data—it’s about giving people and companies control of their data in the Internet cloud. That means letting customers move their files and digital media in and out of various proprietary applications, including Google Apps, so they can switch to other systems or applications if they want to. Last December, I interviewed Brian Fitzpatrick, who leads Google’s efforts in “data liberation” from the company’s Chicago offices. From what I can tell, Google and Backupify are on the same page here.
“It’s a control issue,” says May. “We think of ourselves as [software-as-a-service] data management and data liberation.”