Remember last December, when Beyoncé caused a music industry firestorm by releasing her new album via her website and iTunes a full week before retailers like Amazon and Target could sell it?
Well, unbeknownst to them, these three guys were part of the controversy. Their company, DigitalOcean, runs the cloud service that hosts Beyoncé’s website. But they didn’t know about her album plans until they saw the traffic go crazy on their cloud that day.
“We had no idea,” co-founder and CEO Ben Uretsky told Business Insider. “Her development team chose DigitalOcean because of our fast cloud servers.”
That Beyoncé’s web developers had full confidence that this startup could safely handle the load when millions of people all jumped on the website the second the album launched says a lot about the startup.
But it was just another milestone in a whirlwind that began two years ago, when brothers Ben and Moisey Uretsky met Mitch Wainer through Craigslist.
“We met on Craigslist, but it wasn’t the personals,” laughs co-founder and CMO Wainer. “Ben and Moisey put out a job listing and I answered it.”
Wainer was bored with a dead-end job at a startup where he had no equity, and was surfing for new options. He had gotten an offer from another hot New York startup, ZocDoc, but made a “big bet” to go become a founder instead.
The bet paid off. DigitalOcean landed a spot in the TechStars 2012 class in Boulder, Colo., and the team built a cloud service that quickly became astoundingly popular.
In less than two years, mostly through word-of-mouth, DigitalOcean has become the ninth largest cloud infrastructure company in the world, according to a site that tracks such stats, Netcraft.
IT professionals love it for something called “droplets,” which is what the company calls its cloud computers. Droplets can be set up in 55 seconds, they use superfast solid-state disk (SSD) flash storage (that’s what Beyoncé’s team liked) and cost as little as $US5/month.
Today the company hosts about 1.5 million “droplets” and was adding more servers per month than Amazon’s cloud, Netcraft says. It has 150,000 customers and recently opened a new Amsterdam data center, too.
In March, DigitalOcean nabbed a big $US35 million Series A at a $US153 million valuation led by Andreessen Horowitz (it has raised $US37.2 million total). And, unlike many Silicon Valley cloud startups, DigitalOcean didn’t need the money. It’s already profitable, Wainer says.
They don’t plan to use the investment to operate at a loss.
“We’ll grow as fast as possible as long as we’re at break even,” Wainer says. “The moment we start to go into the red, we would take a step back. We just love running profitable companies. That’s a contrast with New York. We’re real. We’re down to earth. We don’t run a fantasy revenue model.”
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