There is so much happening beyond the reach of the Red Line and Route 128, the traditional borders of what constitutes the "Boston Tech Scene," that trying to capture all of the momentum building within the entire New England innovation community is becoming a daunting task.
For example, there are some small (but rapidly growing) tech ecosystems attracting more and more attention in places like Providence, Rhode Island; New Haven, Connecticut; and even Burlington, Vermont.
Additionally, in New Hampshire, three separate little tech enclaves, the Seacoast area (Portsmouth), the Dartmouth region (Hanover), and Greater Manchester, have begun connecting and collaborating with each other like never before, trying to put the Granite State on the map as a leader in the technology space.
Leading that charge is one company in particular, a company that powers some of the most popular sites on the web, Dyn.
Dyn (pronounced "Dine" not "Din") was described last week by This Week in Startups host and AngelList Syndicate guru, Jason Calacanis, as the "Google of the Area," meaning, in his eyes, they are the biggest company in New England. Calacanis, who sits on the company's board of directors, is somewhat biased. However, he is an influential figure in the national technology scene who decided that a little company in New Hampshire was worth getting involved with, and his comparison may not be that far off.
The question is, how is Dyn the Google of the North?
The company, then known as DynDNS, was founded as a non-profit in the late 90's out of a Worcester Polytech dorm room as a way to help people with remote computing. The company started by CEO Jeremy Hitchcock and Tom Daly, has evolved, over the course of the last fifteen years, into the world leader in internet performance. Dyn "powers" websites like Twitter, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Amazon, and Foursquare, among many others. As Chief Technologist Cory von Wallenstein said, "Just about any fast growing web property, we power the underlying DNS (Domain Name Services), traffic management, and email delivery structure for."
From their humble beginnings, Dyn wanted to help others. As a non-profit, the company sought to help users who were away from home grab files from a home computer or host a websites from dial-up connected home computers. Dyn made its first pivot in 2001 when they found that its growing, web-savvy users wanted the company to offer more services. So the company ran a "donation drive" (what we'd call today crowd-funding), and asked users to help raise $25,000. Dyn ended up getting $40K and used to money to write more software, build a larger network, and get their servers in more places.
Between 2004 and 2007, the company made another shift and became a for-profit institution that serviced web email and domain registration. By 2008, they were ready to launch in the enterprise space and brought a premium service to the market that, as von Wallenstein said, "would power machine critical infrastructure."
He added, "When Twitter launched at SXSW in 2006, they were running our $30-a-year DNS product for an embarrassingly long amount of time."
From there, Dyn started looking at its expanding user base and how to make an even larger impact. "Once we figured out enterprise and branding, marketing, sales strategy, and go-to-market, things started taking off," von Wallenstein said. In 2007 and 2008, "We were a little over $3M a year in revenue, and have grown each year since," he added.
It is difficult to figure out which is more impressive, that Dyn was basically boot-strapped by re-investing capital until last year or that their first round of funding, from North Bridge Venture Partners, was a $38 million round.
Both are actually quite astounding, and, whats more, the company wants its story to be the guidepost for the growing Boston/New England tech boom. As von Wallenstein said, "Our success story makes it that much easier for the next success story to happen."
Dyn is trying to build something really special in Manchester, it is as if they see their success as a call to action to help build a network of startups, innovators, and entrepreneurs in northern New England and Boston. Dyn is especially vigilant about having its high-level employees play an angel role in the New Hampshire tech community and beyond. As von Wallenstein said, Dyn wants to "tread a path that others can follow to their own success." The company even has a downtown Manchester "innovation hub" where they are incubating and investing in some local startups.
Moreover, Dyn is trying to build an innovation conduit between Boston and the smaller New England tech ecosystems. They are getting more involved in Boston-based innovation organizations and seem to be everywhere, whether sponsoring a few tents at the Boston Tech Jam or having Hitchcock and other leadership ever-present in key local events, like Friday's This Week in Startups taping.
I recently attended a MassTLC event at Dyn's 'you-need-to-see-it-to-believe-it" office in an old mill building in Manchester and was blown away not only by the ridiculous office (climbing wall, putting green, and actual music/karaoke stage, etc.) but also by the vibe present in the company's headquarters. Everyone I met, and I mean everyone, seems like they are hell-bent on making Dyn one of the country's premier tech companies, and dammit if they aren't going to smile and look like they might be having fun the whole time they ae doing it.
Having fun or not, Dyn is building something special in Manchester. For too long, the Boston tech scene has been filled with questions about geography and old-school neighborhood chest-thumping. Instead of arguing over the boundaries of innovation clusters, complaining about the perceived lack of "culture" (ie. bars open past 2AM), and celebrating/decrying when a company moves from Boston to Cambridge and vice versa, it's time to open up the floodgates and champion everyone that's crushing it from Swipely in Providence, to Dyn in Manchester.
I'm pretty sure that the folks sitting in Twitter's San Francisco office don't dismiss Google, located in Mountain View, as too far away to be part of the same ecosystem.
As such, its time for Boston to embrace Dyn. What's happening in Manchester, led by visionaries like Hitchcock and von Wallenstein, is truly special, and everyone should what is happening at Dyn.
Dennis Keohane is a staff writer for VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.