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Happy 5th Anniversary Twitter: How You Changed Our Path Forever

It seems like only yesterday that Evan Williams logged into his then DynDNS account, purchased Standard DNS for $30/year and helped change the path and fate of our company forever.

I told him this story once in the lobby at Twitter’s old headquarters in San Francisco, but I’m not sure he entirely comprehended the magnitude of his impact on Dyn from that time forward.

Up until that point, we had been 100% focused and committed to offering home and small business caliber services only. Company leadership had been advised that going up-market into the enterprise would be too hard and they couldn’t do it without a serious infusion of capital. We were told that “companies aim to go down market, not up, and the road would be too tough.”

In typical bootstrapped, founder run fashion, we set out to prove the naysayers wrong.

It was because of clients like Twitter, Breitling, Beanie Babies and others using the basic Unicast DNS service and wanting more, and because a single provider (now our largest and most competitive nemesis) owned the enterprise DNS market, we decided to build our now very successful premium IP Anycast global DynECT Managed DNS service.

The Challenge

When I walked into the door at Dyn, our CEO Jeremy challenged me with the following three goals:

1)   Move Twitter onto DynECT Managed DNS BUT don’t lose them!

2)   Sign Zappos onto DynECT Managed DNS (it took me 5 months and started with a direct tweet to Tony Hsieh himself @Zappos)

3)   Make friends with Gary Vaynerchuck (kinda random, but he was a fan!)

Yes, all three have been accomplished with the third being a work in progress (we’ve kinda drank beers together and I’ve had lunch with his brother…that counts, right?).

Moving Twitter onto the new platform was not easy at first. Being one of the fastest growing sites in history, they were busy and getting their VP of Operations to engage was like chasing a ghost. Brian Brady, now our Director of Strategic Partners, had stalked him for a solid six months with minimal movement so I decided I needed to just take the bull by the horns and force a call. It worked.

Below is a loose transcript, but needless to say they’ve upgraded with us half a dozen times, continue to scale their ridiculous traffic, gave (and still give) huge credibility to us for scaling with them and have been a great reference customer and friend.

Part of what motivates us is to not only to grow Dyn, but also to enable customers like Twitter to truly impact the world by revolutionizing communication as current events prove. It’s been an amazing ride — one we do not take for granted.

Here’s that chat:

Circa January 2009

ME: So thanks for taking my call. I wanted to connect and intro you again to our much more robust DynECT Managed DNS platform, that you should definitely be taking advantage of. I know Brian has been hunting you down for like six months so I just want to cut to the chase. He was told that he needed to move you up, but not lose you. Needless to say, he’s been kinda timid with that directive. I’m new here and am jumping in because this really NEEDS to happen.

Twitter: Yeah, I understand. What do you propose?

ME: Well, you pay us $30/year right now which your CFO must laugh at. The maximum you’re supposed to be allowed to use on Custom DNS is 1 QPS (query per second), and you guys are an exponential order of magnitude above that. It’s actually unheard of traffic and we don’t see it stopping anytime soon.

Twitter: Neither do we. I get where you are coming from. I guess I was just waiting for someone to come and get a bit more assertive with me. I definitely knew we were taking advantage of it, but it just hasn’t been our priority.

ME: Here is what I suggest. As I mentioned, you are now paying $30/year and you should really be paying more like $XXXX/month. What do you think is fair? We realize that you’ll continue to grow and grow.

Twitter: How about we meet somewhere in the middle? Send over the paperwork and I’ll sign it today.

ME: Really?! That would be great. (high fiving and jumping up in down in the room, both Brian and I trying to contain our excitement!)

Twitter: For sure. Thanks a lot, guys. We’re psyched to grow with you and love working with Dyn. Take it easy.

Yup, that’s the truth…straight up. We were direct and he was direct back. It was a 10-minute call that was six months in the making and he signed that afternoon as promised. It was the first big enterprise deal we won and we’ve never looked back bringing on contemporaries like Netflix, Pandora, Yammer, Photobucket, Stumbleupon and others in the fast growth Web 2.0 world (our biggest vertical market!).

Twitter took a gamble on us and we believe they won big. But so did we and we are forever grateful for it. Cheers to five more years!


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Kyle York
Whois: Kyle York

Kyle York is GM & VP, Business & Product Strategy, and has been a long-time executive, having joined in 2008. Over the years, he has held go-to-market leadership roles in worldwide sales, marketing, and services. In his current role, Kyle focuses on overall corporate strategy, including: positioning and evangelism, new market entry, strategic alliances and partnerships, M&A, and business development. Outside of Oracle Dyn, Kyle is an angel investor, entrepreneur, and advisor in several startups.