Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Dyn Raises $38 Million From North Bridge; Jason Calacanis Joins Its Board

The state of New Hampshire isn’t exactly the place you’d expect to go looking for one of the quiet powers of the Internet, but that’s exactly what Dyn is, and it’s based in the city of Manchester.

Dyn’s speciality is delivering what is known as “managed DNS services,” essentially the phone directory for the Internet. DNS — the initials stand for Domain Name System — keeps track of which domain names (like, say, AllThingsD.com) belong to the numerical Internet Protocol addresses that aren’t as human-friendly, like 205.178.190.40. While it seems trivial, it’s actually a pretty fundamental function of the Internet. If your DNS server goes down, your site is down, which means you’re not making any money.

Dyn provides its clients with a rock-solid DNS lookup service that keeps sites running, even when they’re hit with high demand. It also provides several services around the delivery of email. Its customers include companies like Zappos, Jive, Twitter, and OMGPop.

The company has been running along just fine since 2001, when it was born at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Bootstrapped from the start, it has been growing a lot faster in the last three years –a compound annual rate of about 70 percent per year. If it sounds like an opportunity to you, you’re not alone. Today, Dyn will announce that it has taken a $38 million Series A minority investment from North Bridge.

It has also enlarged its board of directors: At first its board was just two guys: Co-founders Jeremy Hitchcock and Tom Daly. Today, it’s adding three more people, the best-known of which is Jason Calacanis (pictured), the CEO of Mahalo; former CEO of Weblogs Inc., which he sold to AOL; and now co-founder of ThisWeekIn.

“We’ve kind of kept up a friendly rapport with him and have been following the things that he does,” Hitchcock, Dyn’s CEO said. “The time had come to think about governance and professionalizing the company, so we reached out with him, and had dinner with him in June.” Within a few days, Calacanis was ready to take his seat on the board. He is not making an investment.

The other two new directors are Ric Fulop, general partner at North Bridge and co-founder of A123 Systems, and Russ Pyle, general partner at North Bridge.

North Bridge’s interest sort of makes sense when you realize that among its investments are a bunch of Dyn clients, including Disqus, Quora, Demandware, Acquia, and Spil Games. “We have seen Dyn grow into the worldwide leader in Infrastructure as a Service with many of our portfolio companies as customers and are proud to be part of their story,” Fulop and Pyle said in a statement.

And while DNS services are one of those things that, like oxygen, are seemingly uninteresting to talk about until you lose it, the the number of customers that Dyn has gives you a pretty solid idea as to its importance: 2,000 enterprise clients, 450,000 e-commerce clients, and four million active users around the world. It has offices in Manchester and San Francisco, and two in the U.K., in Brighton and Wrexham. Headcount is 170 employees.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik