Kris Beevers, CEO of NS1, wants to make sure organizations stay connected. The company’s Domain Name System (DNS) management technologies give customers such as Dropbox, LinkedIn and Yelp control over their web technology so they can keep up with the internet’s ever-evolving traffic flow and applications development.
“We are a critical path service for our customers, meaning if we go down, all of our customers go down, or at least have a very bad day,” Beevers said.
DNS is the internet’s foundational system that translates domain names – the .com, .gov, .edu URLs users type into browsers – to underlying service information, such as the IP addresses the browser goes to, to interact with applications.
Founded in the early 1980s, DNS hasn’t changed much, but the internet has. NS1 helps it catch up, and that makes the company stand out. “Being an independent provider of these services that direct traffic across your different cloud environments or across your different infrastructure is hooked into that trend as well and has helped establish our leadership,” Beevers said.
He started NS1 with two co-founders five years ago. Since then, he’s watched competitors such as Dyn get bought by bigger tech firms such as Oracle or private equity buyers, leaving NS1 a big fish in a small pond of independent DNS management companies. And that’s a good thing: NS1 has raised about $50 million in venture capital. “I spend a lot of my time thinking about which companies we should go buy as opposed to which companies might want to buy us,” he said.
NS1 has about 100 employees at six locations worldwide, but it’s always looking for more. “It’s a deep technology area and there’s not that many people in the world that really understand it at depth,” Beevers said. So, the company is creating its own talent pool. Last week it launched an online certification around to DNS to help people understand DNS.
Besides a solid technical background, Beevers looks for workers who fit culturally at the company. “We want people who really look for leadership opportunities within our company, without our company in the broader community, and take charge.”
This is the second internet infrastructure company Kris has helped lead. Previously, he was at Voxel where he built content delivery networks, cloud, bare metal and other infrastructure products before selling the company to Internap in 2011.
Being a CEO has taught him to have faith in others. “When you start a business and you’re the founder, you are all things. You are the salesperson and the marketing person and the engineer and the product marketer and everything in between,” Beevers said. “What happens, if you are succeeding, over time is you bring people into the business who are better than you at all of those things. One of the key lessons I’ve had to learn as CEO over the years is to let go of stuff.”
Fast Five with Kris Beevers
When did you want to be a CEO?
I was smaller than I can remember. There’s two things I always wanted to do: I always wanted to get a Ph.D. and I always wanted to start businesses. I did the first one and now I’m doing the second one.
What is your favorite question to ask on a job interview?
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are they really excited about?
What is the single most important trait for a leader?
Clarity of purpose and vision.
What’s the key to finding new revenue sources?
Engage your customers.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), how much of a priority do you put on the following things at your company: people, process and technology?
People is a 10. None of the rest matters if your people aren’t working effectively together, communicating effectively together. Technology is the next one, in the 7 or 8 range. Process is a 5 or 6. It’s a necessary evil.