From Internet Plumbing to Tweeting With Zappos: The Dyn Story

4/10/12Follow @gthuang

If the Internet needs a plumber, Jeremy Hitchcock is your man. It’s not sexy, it’s not glamorous, but as they say, someone’s got to do it. And if that someone does it right, well, he can build a very profitable, 150-person company right here in the great Northeast.

That company would be Dyn (pronounced “dine”), based in Manchester, NH, about an hour’s drive north of Boston. Hitchcock helped get the Web infrastructure firm off the ground in 2001, together with chief technology officer Tom Daly, when they were in school at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Hitchcock is a self-described garage techie who talks in a low-key way about his company’s story. But over the past decade, Dyn has bootstrapped and grown up in parallel with the Web. The company now counts among its customers Angry Birds, Bit.ly, CNBC, The Guardian, Mashable, Etsy, J. Jill, Playdom, StumbleUpon, Salesforce.com, Twitter, and Zappos (owned by Amazon.com). Its Boston-area customers include City Sports, NESN, and DataXu.

Dyn provides managed DNS and e-mail delivery services to businesses small and large. While DNS (Domain Name System) is boring enough that I won’t explain it in detail here—the technology is 30 years old—suffice to say it is a global system that involves mapping URLs to Internet Protocol addresses used by servers and routers to serve up Web pages and other data when they are requested. DNS is a fundamental part of how the Internet works. It’s also one of those things you only notice when it’s not working.

So it seems accurate to say there’s more to Dyn than just plumbing—more like it provides a crucial service so that CTOs, networking administrators, and heads of IT departments can rest more easily. “We’re the traffic controller. We direct content to the eyeball as quickly as possible,” says Hitchcock, the firm’s CEO (see photo, left).

It is that speed and reliability that big customers like e-retailers and media sites want from Dyn. And as the Web has evolved dramatically, so has the company. For the first few years, Hitchcock says, Dyn was about being “a really good infrastructure provider” and a “great lifestyle business.” Indeed, the company had only about 20 people up until 2006, and has not taken outside funding to date. “We never said, ‘There’s money in those hills in the DNS world,’” he says.

But there were some key inflection points early on. In the early 2000s, after the tech bubble burst, Hitchcock and his team—mostly still in college—were building a company around helping consumers and small businesses … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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