It’s hard to believe it, but on Friday, Backupify crossed one million paid business seats backed up. I remember setting a goal back in June of 2011 to end that year with 20,000 paid seats, and we barely hit that target by closing a 3,200 seat deal in late December. Now we easily add 20,000 seats in less than a week. The last 18 months have been explosive in the cloud to cloud backup industry. Companies everywhere are realizing the critical need to keep a secure second copy of all the data they have locked up in SaaS applications. We’ve seen new competitors, new products, and we’ve seen the reality of cloud data loss, as we restored 5.2M items for our customers in Q2 alone.
Many of you probably first heard about Backupify in the last year or so, and don’t realize the 5+ year history of the company. So, now that we are 70+ employees and $22M in venture capital raised, I thought it might be a good time to get nostalgic and share some of the interesting (and sometimes embarrassing) stories from the early days. The path from 0 to 1M business users has been an adventurous one thus far.
1. What’s in a name?: When we first launched in March of 2009, the company was originally called Lifestreambackup. We were consumer focused and were backing up your Lifestream, hence the name. When we realized that almost everyone who paid us was actually a business, and that businesses didn’t understand the term “lifestreaming,” we decided to change the name.
2. March Madness: We started in Louisville, KY, and as a tribute to our Kentucky roots, we take off at noon on the Thursday that the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament starts, and we take that full Friday off as well. They are official company holidays. (Go Wildcats!)
3. One close call. We almost lost all of our data in early 2010 because of a billing misunderstanding with Amazon. We had raised a $900K seed round, but didn’t know that our business debit card tied to that particular bank account which still had a $3K daily limit. When our AWS charges crossed that limit, the charges were declined, and we didn’t realize it because the emails were going to an older lifestreambackup-at-gmail account, which we pretty much stopped checking. Amazon finally called us, and gave us a few days to pay, but the bank process to get the limit lifted took longer than that. American Express came to the rescue, gave us a card, and got Amazon paid all in a couple of hours. Phew.
4. Our king of multitasking: Our first full-time hire, Ben Thomas, has run the following teams/projects at various points in Backupify history: Product, Engineering, Customer Support, Customer Success, our largest Business Development relationship, and, now, our Security team.
5. GameTweetify? My co-founder, Vik Chadha, called me two hours after a lunch we had where I pitched him on a different business idea that involved a sports-based filter for Twitter during basketball games. Walking out of the restaurant, I mentioned this “online backup thing” that I was about to start working on as a side project. He didn’t care about the Twitter thing at all, but liked the 90 seconds he heard about the backup idea, so we became partners.
6. Our most notorious customer. The strangest story ever written about us was when Wikileaks signed up for an account on one of our sub-branded sites. Suddenly reporters were furiously emailing asking if we would kick them off the service or not. As luck would have it, Assange was arrested 36 hours later and we never had to make a decision.
7. The biggest day EVER: The news story that had the biggest impact on the company was this one from 2009, which got picked up on Techmeme. We had 3,000 consumer users at the time, and we signed up 10,000 that day. I got to spend Christmas 2009 answering support tickets from around the world. But after that, VCs were calling.
8. Churning the big bucks. In the entire history of Backupify, overall we have had negative net churn. Our churn rates back in 2010 were around 4% per month, now we average -1.5% net. Across the aggregated history of the company, more customers have increased their usage and upgraded their accounts, than have canceled.
9. The story of Saint Backup Day. Our attempt to sponsor World Backup Day in 2013 ended up getting us into a situation with the trademark owner that caused us to start our own holiday.
I could write another dozen blog posts based on all the quirky facts and strange stories from over the years, but fortunately for you there are only so many hours in a day. Our next target is 10M business seats and I can’t wait for the next round of stories that have yet to be told.
A huge thank you to all our wonderful customers who have helped us get so far, all 1,000,000 of you. I look forward to protecting, archiving, and restoring lots more data together in the coming years.