The Taking It To The Streets campaign is all about developing face-to-face relationships with our clients to learn how these web superstars operate, to see what problems they are facing, how to overcome them and most importantly, how we can all learn from each other to create a best of breed company, culture and overall successful business.
Today, we hit the pavement to learn about Catchpoint.
Disclosure: we are mutual customers.
The people at Catchpoint are super passionate about web performance. Since their days at Doubleclick, they have been in an environment where performance matters. After they joined Google from Doubleclick, they were exposed to an even more data-driven world. This passion for shaving off milliseconds is ingrained in their team.
What Catchpoint does is real-time monitoring. They look at the speed and availability of your Internet systems and show what it looks like now and how it has trended. The trick about doing this on the Internet is that not all places are the same. People on the East Coast of North America might see a website, but it might be down for the West Coast because of a regional routing or networking issue. Catchpoint does this monitoring from a variety of locations and Internet carriers on the Internet, combines all of the results together and does altering and analytics on performance.
We met up with Mehdi Daoudi and his team in New York as they have a pretty amazing background. While that’s the most striking characteristic, they are all smart and deliberate about the problems they aim to resolve. When you talk to them, you also realize that they are cool people too.
For the Catchpoint team, browsing the web can be painful. When they look at websites and web performance, they are so uncomfortable that it’s like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. Why? Because when they browse, they watch the images and page elements and immediately think about all of the optimizations that the website can do to make things faster. In essence, they’re always working while online.
Pulse of Monitoring
The high level monitoring world is fairly niche with the universe of people limited to larger online sites. A number of studies and discussions have shown that website speed increases almost every measure of website engagement (readership, search results, ecommerce, etc.). No one would question whether these best practices are useful but the value and how they are delivered is the puzzle. The bigger you are, the more likely you are to optimize the speed of your site.
There are already a few well established parties who work with some of the largest online sites. Since the incumbents have a pretty strong hold, Catchpoint has to find a key area to differentiate. This takes time to find the right problem to solve in the universe of performance monitoring. What are people willing to pay for, especially when it comes to reporting or trending information?
Self-funded and multi-located
Being a self-funded venture, we can relate to the question of finding the focus and figuring it out. For a few years, we had to wrestle with a wider ecommerce service or decide to take our services up market. Catchpoint has some awesome technology and is taking it to market – even with the questions of distribution, pricing, and positioning swirling around. Only through trial and error (or being smart or lucky) will they figure out the right combination.
Catchpoint has an interesting arrangement, even for the modern telecommuting organization. Their CEO resides on the West Coast while the main office is based in New York. It’s a setup that Mehdi hears about a lot, but chooses to play it up as a strength. With this, the first years can be difficult as the team gets a consistent groove. However, the team has been working together for years, know how to read each other and are clear on the opportunities at hand. Telecommuting was hailed as impossible years ago, but perhaps this arrangement will not be as uncommon in future years as collaboration tools get better.
The irony in that paragraph? As I write this, I’m on a plane ride to London where I will be both out of the office and six hours off from the office’s native time zone. Our trip’s purpose is to expand our time zone coverage east and continue our expansion in Western time zones to better interface with customers and to reduce the on-call operations workload.
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