Bigger, Stronger, Faster: 5 Questions with Dyn CEO Jeremy Hitchcock
It’s a familiar scenario. Tech company toils away for 10 years, rides the ups and downs of its market, quietly bootstraps its way to profitability, lands some huge customers, and becomes an overnight success story.
I’m talking about Dyn, the Manchester, NH-based Internet infrastructure company that just raised a $38 million first round of financing from North Bridge Venture Partners, with Ric Fulop and Russ Pyle of North Bridge joining the board, along with entrepreneur and startup guru Jason Calacanis.
Raising money is not the main success here, of course. Over the years, Dyn has become a leader in e-mail delivery and DNS (Domain Name System) services—a critical part of the plumbing that keeps major sites like Twitter, Zappos, Spotify, and Zillow up and running. The company’s profits and leadership have made it very attractive to VCs, but until recently Dyn has resisted their overtures. I wondered what had changed, and what the deeper thinking was behind the latest move.
So I e-mailed a few questions to Dyn’s co-founder and CEO, Jeremy Hitchcock (pictured below). Here’s what he had to say about the decision to raise venture money, and how the deal will impact Dyn’s growth, strategy, and culture.
Xconomy: Can you talk about your decision to take a growth round? Why now?
Jeremy Hitchcock: We have bootstrapped Dyn for 11 years but we’re not quite satisfied. This investment symbolizes our commitment to double down on our efforts to become the global leader in DNS and e-mail delivery and to redefine the entire Infrastructure as a Service space.
X: Out of all your VC suitors, why North Bridge? And can you speak to what your new board members bring to the table specifically for Dyn?
JH: We have been lucky to receive a lot of attractive offers over the years, but we found North Bridge a partner that truly understood our mission, culture, and hustle. We feel this investment allows us the opportunity to take Dyn to the next level without sacrificing our core identity, which is fundamentally a bootstrapped company that values engineering excellence, believes uptime is the bottom line, and creates rock solid customer relationships in the infrastructure space.
Ric, Russ, and Jason bring a wealth of real world experience that helps balance out our current executive team. They have a nice blend of polished experience and energy that will challenge us and help push us to new heights. One of the reasons we’re so happy to have them on the board is that they truly believe in us and what we’re trying to accomplish.
X: How will Dyn use the money—more acquisitions, new hires, new product lines?
JH: It will remain business as usual. We do not anticipate any dramatic changes. We are going to continue as before but with additional resources. We have thrived because we have been smart with our money. We don’t intend on changing that.
X: How will you maintain and/or evolve the company’s culture as you grow even faster?
JH: Culture is never easy to manufacture, and we’re no stranger to growth. Over the years, we’ve found if we stay true to ourself, then our employees follow suit. Things might be different, but it’s our job to keep them equal. While you can single this out as a milestone, we daily think of how to be bigger, stronger, faster. We will focus on hiring people who embody the mantra of work hard, play hard. We’ve been good at doing that so far and hope to continue it.
X: How does taking a VC round affect your broader strategic thinking? E.g., how do you handle the pressure to get to a big exit?
JH: We really love what we do. The round will actually get us a lot more focused on the road ahead for a number of years. So we don’t look at it as pressure. We have always had incredibly high expectations so that hasn’t changed.