NS1 Journey from Audacious Idea to Joining IBM
Building a company from start to scale is hard.
The “overnight success” of a startup makes for a popular narrative when it comes to storytelling and media headlines. Taking an idea from concept to viable business is more often than not, a long haul. And it’s one that requires grit, determination, and patience.
The trio, who had previously worked together at a managed networking services company, set out in 2013 to rewrite DNS, a fundamental networking stack that had been around for nearly 40 years. Together, they had a bold idea to create a dynamic DNS system where every response could return different results based on real-time Internet intelligence.
This concept was technically ambitious. It would generate data collection demands for real-time intelligence in orders of magnitude larger than contemporary DNS systems and they’d need to devise a developer and API-oriented interface. These efforts would require recruiting world-class networking, DevOps, and observability engineers. This space was notorious for heavy competition, low margins, slim differentiation, and intense service obligations, so they also needed a business model resistant to the commoditizing tendency of their competitors.
Kris Beevers and his team diligently set about their task, breaking down the challenges one day at a time.
It took Kris’ team a number of years to design, implement, and launch their new system. Even more challenging was the additional years to incorporate operations learnings to handle trillions of transactions reliably.
The first customers at NS1 came quickly as tech-forward startups with large end user and video streaming requirements saw performance improvement opportunities with NS1’s dynamic DNS methodology. Through networking and investor outreach, they landed Imgur, Yelp, and Squarespace as early customers.
Building a DNS business requires patience as the number of unknown unknowns in operating a system that requires 6 9s availability take time to understand and incorporate. To support their efforts, they raised money from VCs across five rounds, each round larger (with a higher valuation!) than the last. The team often spent years nurturing their relationships with angels, seed funds, and institutions like GGV, Cisco, and Energy Impact Partners who could help them scale given their current stage of growth.
Over the course of eight years, they grew faster than the DNS market each year, taking share from competitors. They were able to gain the trust and loyalty of nearly 1000 customers representing the world’s most mission-critical software platform like Salesforce, LinkedIn, and Dropbox.
The company’s success allowed them to methodically expand their vision and launch new products related to IPAM, video acceleration, DHCP, network observability, and network “source of truth.” Along the way, they also cultivated multiple successful open-source projects, such as Orb, Raptor, and NetBox. That broad vision and success of these projects has led us to today, where the company’s core team and technologies are joining with IBM, while its open source products are being spun off into a new company: NetBox Labs.
There were many challenges along the way to the success of today. NS1 faced significant growing pains as they went from offering one product to multiple product lines. Then, there was the necessary pivot from on-premises, appliance-based products to cloud-hosted offerings in order to catch the digital transformation wave of companies moving to the cloud. As macro conditions and customer demand fluxed, company leadership built a dedicated team that had to be as nimble as they were deeply technical to support diverse products with disparate selling motions.
This overnight success was a decade in the making.
NS1 arrived here because of the vision of the founding team and the leadership of Kris Beevers, who grew from engineering thought leader/founder to CEO as he steadfastly guided the company through its twists and turns. His commitment to his team and the technologies they built was second to none. We are proud and fulfilled by having played a role in the success of NS1. The team’s not done yet and we look forward to seeing what this incredibly talented team does next.