I am excited to share the news of First Round Capital's recent investment in cloud-to-cloud backup service Backupify. This is the first deal I've closed for FRC and I've also joined the board of the company. Josh Kopelman will be working closely on this investment as well.
Joining our investment in the $900k round were General Catalyst, Betaworks, Jason Calacanis, and Chris Sacca.
The origin of this company is pretty interesting. Back in late 2008, I noticed that one of my Flickr contacts seemed to be short a few photos--like, a few thousand of them. For some reason (which I later found out was just an expired credit card) their account was only showing the last 250 photos they took. I freaked out. I realized that I had been using Flickr for so long that I had switched computers several times and no longer had many of my originals. The single point of failure for all my digital memories was now Yahoo! You can imagine how comfortable that made me feel. I immediately started looking for backup solutions.
Existing solutions provided desktop backup, but that wasn't the issue. These photos, like more and more of my life, weren't on my desktop in the form of files. Not only were they files in the cloud, but they had all sorts of attached metadata like tags, comments, and groupings that didn't come in a neatly packaged desktop file. Bringing these photos back down to my desktop, losing that data richness, and then uploading them back up to the cloud not only seemed inefficient, it would have been downright archaic. Flickr has an API. S3 has an API. This shouldn't have been more than a few clicks away from being a non-issue, but no one was working on a “cloud to cloud” solution.
I sent out a Twitter distress signal and my friend Rob May came to the rescue. We met back in 2005 through our respective blogs—he was writing at Businesspundit at the time. Always working on something entrepreneurial, he had a team of developers at the ready to execute on new projects. This project, however, he was a bit skeptical about. He wasn't entirely convinced this was a problem for a lot of people—that is, until after his team built it and people started signing up... and even a little while after that. Ironically enough, you could say that this is a project that the market dragged Rob into kicking and screaming.
Not only did users start signing up for backup of the hosted photo services they were using, but they started requesting additional services as well—Google Docs, Basecamp, blogs, even their web e-mail. It became increasingly apparent that cloud applications were becoming a more critical aspect of not only people's personal lives but their businesses as well. When enterprises started contacting him about Salesforce and archiving solutions, it was clear that this was an opportunity that demanded to be properly resourced.
Right around the time I joined First Round, Rob started thinking about raising an angel round. We started talking about the future roadmap of the company and how important this service could be. We found research that indicated that the number one reason why more companies aren't using cloud applications is because fear over handing all their data to a third party without direct access to it—data lock-in. When your SaaS applications go down, or companies go out of business or discontinue services, you're toast. A backup service built specifically to handle the structured data in cloud software could give a lot of companies the piece of mind needed to finally get them to move off the desktop.
On top of that, being able to store all of the structured data you have in the cloud opens up a host of other opportunities, like comprehensive search or better interoperability across online applications. What's really exciting is the enthusiasm among the tech community for services that help enterprises, small businesses, and consumers alike move to the cloud. Rob's had a number of conversations with key market players around business development and is open to more. Tell him what Backupify can do to help you or your constituents move to the cloud with confidence.
Another thing I'm looking forward to with this deal is Rob's impending move to the East Coast. He's been in Louisville, Kentucky over the last few years and he's been talking about moving to a more robust innovation community for as long as I know him. He'll be heading to either New York, Boston, or Philly in the next few months and I'm sure he'd love to get some insider feedback on these communities.
With this round, Backupify is going to be able to sharpen its product and business focus, and make some much needed engineering hires. If you're interested in building ultra-scalable applications in the cloud, big data, APIs, and crawling, please drop Rob a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're looking for a solid VP of engineering and some additional developers.
It's also great to have such great folks joining us in our investment. I can't be more stoked about being able to work with Andy and John and the Betaworks team on this, as big data and APIs are pretty much what they eat for breakfast. Also participating is General Catalyst. David Orfao has a long history of building successful companies and brings a wealth of experience to the table. Backupify also has had some very smart advisors on board like Sim Simeneov and Dharmesh Shah that I'm looking forward to getting to know better. Plus, given that this company will be helping to evangelize a move to the cloud, I don't think you could ask for two more prominent and influential folks than Jason Calacanis and Chris Sacca.