I think back to my first day at Dyn when it was 95% engineering and 5% business talent. There was a controller, a lawyer, a couple sales guys; essentially all technical foreigners. We were approximately 20 people, passionate about the technology but disconnected from the market, the customer, the revenue, or any semblance of a real growth plan. I personally didn’t even know if there was true value in premium DNS at that point. I didn’t know if there was actually an enterprise market for it (a great thought considering the product was already built!), so we were not exactly talking about a slam-dunk opportunity on our hands.
It could’ve been a bad job to take. All I knew is that the company was committed, smart, passionate and looking for a catalyst to drive its introverted ambition into the future. I knew my personality, experience, approach, aspirations and skills could be that perfect fit, but I just had to ensure the Dyn body didn’t reject the new and VERY different organ that was yours truly.
When you have organic success through a product needed by a loyal and committed user base, you can become complacent when it comes to truly investing in sales and marketing. It’s not that there isn’t investment in company building, but it just goes into other areas.
Dyn was SaaS before SaaS. We were consumerization of IT before it was hip to say so. We were network effect growth before that was all the rage. We were negative working capital before that made sense. Our founding team nailed it and had time on their side when they launched our company during their college years, two of the four founders starting in their sophomore year. We made money without trying to make money. We engineered solid technology for people who needed it and they kindly gave us a few bucks.
It was successful, but all great technology companies either grow or die. Sustained success comes with growth from cross-functional, diverse and fully-formed teams. I was recently asked what advice I would give someone like myself coming into a company like Dyn at the time I did. It’s actually pretty simple:
- Be tactful.
- Be strategic.
- Be patient.
- Be more than a sales guy or gal.
Don’t be a bull in a china shop and hit the streets before you, or more importantly, the company is ready. Play the game. Find out what people are playing for. What motivates the team? What excites them? What part do they play in the company machine?
The first thing I did was hone in on “the pitch” — the narrative that our company story would be built upon. It was important that all employees bought into this public facing vision. It was imperative that the company believed in me and had my back.
It came down to the fact that we’re all in marketing and sales.
We’re interwoven into our company pitch, and represent it whether we like it or know it or want to. We’re the core fabric of our company narrative which is part culture, part product, part people, part dream, part market, part values, part technology. It is not one thing. A brand is not one thing. It’s all things. It’s always evolving. It’s the foundation for success.
As I run around this week at web performance and scale conference Surge, I’m proud as can be. I see our engineers and operations talent speaking on stages, rocking our t-shirts and swag in the halls and sessions, buying customers drinks and socializing, and learning about the future of Internet performance solutions. I see everyone evangelizing the company they are so proud to work for or do business with.
Seeing that brings me back to that aforementioned first day at Dyn back in 2008. I’m pretty sure we got it right.