Building a big business is a long journey, and inevitably there are some serious low periods mixed in with the highs. When Marc and Ben first met David Ulevitch in 2009, his company OpenDNS was in one of those low periods. David – then CTO – had been asked to step aside as CEO six months earlier by his original investor; the company was attempting to pivot from a consumer to enterprise security company; and the business needed to buy out that original investor, who now needed liquidity. It was a rough time.
But often these near-death experiences make you stronger. In a series of moves he now describes as “the best time I never want to have again,” David found new investors to buy out his original investor, was reinstated in his role as CEO, and simplified the cap table to make future recruiting and financings possible. Six years later David sold OpenDNS to Cisco for $635 million, staying on for the next three years to help grow and ultimately lead what is now one of the largest and fastest-growing security businesses in the world. OpenDNS – which pioneered cloud-delivered security services by pairing deep security expertise with global infrastructure and a SaaS business model – today protects nearly 100 million people each day, along with many tens of thousands of businesses.
OpenDNS wasn’t David’s first rodeo. I first heard about David after he started EveryDNS in 2001, while a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis. And EveryDNS wasn’t your typical university side project either – it was an ambitious domain name system provider that allowed people to map domains to websites for free and was funded entirely on donations. I joke that it was the first time the shareware business model had been used for a SaaS service. By the time David graduated, it was a real business and nine years later David sold EveryDNS to Dyn (which is now part of Oracle).
We’ve been fans of David ever since we met him, and he strongly embodies the ethos around which a16z has been built. As we’ve gotten to know David even better, it’s become clear that his passion for entrepreneurship, helping others, and building great businesses is a core drive. Beyond his technical expertise in networking, security, and cloud strategy, he has demonstrated tremendous grit, determination, and business savvy throughout his career. As a technical founder and a CEO, David has created multiple companies and carried them to completion over nearly a decade of brilliant work every time. He’s built and managed amazing teams and launched industry-shaping products. Over the last six years, David has been a devoted student of the enterprise go to market, understanding how the best teams scale and distribute great products and services. We share his deep conviction that we are in the earliest innings of the next decade of great enterprise and SaaS startups to be built – and we’re all very, very excited to work alongside him as part of the team.
We’re thrilled to announce that David Ulevitch is joining us as a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.