Yottaa Dives Into Akamai’s Business of Web Content Delivery—Sort Of
Last week, we reported that Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM) is getting into website optimization with its acquisition of Canadian startup Blaze Software. That move is a bit of a departure for Akamai, which is known for its technology on the content delivery and networking side. Well, now it turns out that one of Blaze’s Boston-area competitors is turning the tables and getting into Akamai’s line of business.
Boston-based Yottaa (pronounced a bit like the green Jedi master) is announcing today its latest product—a content delivery network (CDN) encompassing Internet routing technology, global infrastructure, and Web optimization. The startup is known for making software to speed up and monitor website performance, but today’s move adds a new dimension to its cloud-based offerings. And it’s a substantial effort, one that involves 22 data centers worldwide, as well as cloud servers from Amazon and other providers, according to Yottaa founder and CEO Coach Wei.
“Traditional CDNs are not effective anymore for the modern Web,” says Wei. “The Web has really evolved, but CDN technology hasn’t changed for 15 years.”
What he means is that most content delivery networks don’t account for all the newfangled stuff that goes into today’s websites—things like applications and ads that are fetched from distant servers and third-party domains. That slows down the performance of everything from e-commerce sites to big media portals.
“The future of CDNs isn’t necessarily about delivering the bits,” Wei says. “Bandwidth doesn’t make a big difference for your performance anymore. The big factor today is dealing with the complexity of Web pages and helping the Web page execute in the browser or mobile device.”
So is Yottaa’s new service a direct competitor to commercial CDNs like Akamai’s? Wei says no. “The market opportunity [for Yottaa] is very different,” he says. “The reality is, what is your business model? Akamai’s is to serve big enterprise customers. I don’t think they can change that. It’s like a grownup human being changing their DNA.”
In contrast, Yottaa is targeting small and medium-size businesses, of which it says it already has more than 75,000 websites using its optimization software. And in the grand scheme of things, the startup is still all about one thing: speeding up businesses’ websites and making them perform better in terms of landing customers, sales, and so forth. “Fundamentally, we want to help people run their website faster and better,” Wei says.
So, while he says Akamai’s acquisition of Blaze is “good validation that this is where the world is going,” Yottaa is not gunning to be the next Akamai. Rather, Wei chose a different local company as a role model for his startup. “The way we look at us is like HubSpot. They’re an all-in-one marketing service. We’re an all-in-one Web performance service.”
Yottaa has been growing steadily to just over 40 employees, split between Boston and Beijing (the majority are in Beijing). The company, which moved its headquarters from Cambridge to Boston late last year, recently hired Drew Zalkind as chief financial officer and Phil Stanhope as vice president of engineering and operations.