The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Chris Ueland, President of NetDNA

Pacific-Tier Communications is pleased to present our series highlighting and introducing entrepreneurs providing thought leadership and innovative ideas in technology, communications, and environment-related industries.

Pacific-Tier met up with Chris Ueland at his offices in Studio City, California

Pacific-Tier: Chris, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where did you come from?

Chris Ueland: Sure, absolutely. I am a New York native, and I moved to LA when I was 18. I started on the Internet with an open source project called ML.ORG, when I was a young teenager, and that got me hooked into the Internet.

I started working from my parent’s house on nights and weekends on this open source project, and started ICom.Com, which was funded by my former partner.

Pacific-Tier: Excellent. Now you’re working with NetDNA LLC. Tell us a little about NetDNA LLC, and what you do?

Chris Ueland: NetDNA is a pretty cool company. We’re doing content delivery, and we have 10 data centers around the world, and we are focusing on speeding up content to end users.

Pacific-Tier: Who would be your customer? What kind of company would come to NetDNA?

Chris Ueland: Primarily the Alexa top 5000 sites. Right now our customers are primarily advertising and video sites. We are looking to also get into full site acceleration for some of these large web sites.

Pacific-Tier: And what does that mean? What does full-site acceleration mean?

Chris Ueland: We’re constantly looking for any kind of way to speed up a website. And the latest cutting edge stuff to deliver that website as quickly as possible to the end user.

Pacific-Tier: So you are there to try to make the end-user experience better, as well as facilitate the product your customers have?

Chris Ueland: Absolutely. And making it as easy as possible on our customers, where there’s not a whole lot of infrastructure changes on their end.

Pacific-Tier: So you’ve kind of a serial entrepreneur your whole life. You’ve started several companies, gone on to other projects – what drives you to be an entrepreneur?

Chris Ueland: I think it’s just in my DNA. I’m always looking for ways to do things that are outside the beaten path.

Pacific-Tier: That’s pretty exciting. Is it because the large companies don’t offer you the challenge, or is it because you just have things you want to do that the large companies won’t support?

Chris Ueland: I think it’s the fact that as an entrepreneur you can create your own structure. And you can develop things that work really well with your personality. For me, I really enjoy building things, and the companies that I create allow me to harness those talents and just build things all day. Which I love!

Pacific-Tier: The economy has been kind of sketchy lately, and you have a lot of young guys graduating from university, and thinking about going into the work force, and a lot of guys who are thinking about starting their own companies. What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur or graduate who is getting ready to hit the street?

Chris Ueland: Yeah, the first piece of advice is to start as early as possible. You are going to make a lot of mistakes. Get in there and get your hands dirty.

The second (piece of advice) is to develop a real skill set, where you can take that skill set and bring to anybody, anywhere in the world, and provide value for them.

The third is really to build something. Don’t just shuffle things around, genuinely build something big. I think that is really going to fix and help the economy.

Pacific-Tier: And where do you go to from here?

Chris Ueland: We’re looking at really cutting edge stuff to accelerate web sites and to lower latency and deliver the best possible consumer experience.

Pacific-Tier: Give yourself a plug for NetDNA, how do they find you on the web?

Chris Ueland: www.netdna.com

Pacific-Tier: Any final words for the technology community?

Chris Ueland: Get out there guys and build stuff. That’s what’s going to get us out of this rut that we’re in. I really look at the telecom guys and entrepreneurs as the answer to creating things, and continuing to build this country up.

Pacific-Tier: Great advice – thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure talking with you today.

Chris Ueland: Thank you John!

You can listen to the entire audio interview at Pacific Tier

An innovator and an activist, Chris approaches each of his pursuits by asking the question, “how can we help people?” His years as President of Globat LLC, a company he co-founded with friend and business partner Ben Neumann, helped the company net numerous awards and recognitions based on the quality of service the company provided to nearly 100,000 customers around the world. As the Vice President of the Greater Valley Glen Council in the City of Los Angeles, Chris has also worked hard to improve the quality of life for people in the area he represents. Mr. Ueland has enjoyed leadership and ownership roles in successful companies such as Globat LLC, Icom.com, iBoost.com, and DefyingGravity LLC, many of which were ultimately acquired by other companies.

www.netdna.com

Wiring California with Bob Evans and the Fiber Internet Center

“The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Internet Inventions, Bob is a true Silicon Valley entrepreneur, raconteur and original. Bob has combined his technical ingenuity, entrepreneurial ability and team building skills to found successful companies time and again over the past 20 years.” (Silicon Valley Business Television)

Bob Evans always has ideas. Ideas to make his work, and the work of others, more useful and efficient, as well as easier. We first met Bob when he asked if it was “OK” he develop a route server for our young Internet Exchange Point (Any2 Exchange), which would allow the small to medium Internet access and content provider community to find Internet peering easier, and help with introductions within the community that would make Internet interconnections a utility – rather than a high priced value-added service. That little utility now drives one of the largest Internet Exchange Points in the world.

We met Bob this week as he was giving a data center tour and professional advice to a delegation from Ramallah, which came to Bob for mentoring based on his extensive background in all things network and Internet.

For the entire audio interview – click HERE

Pacific-Tier: Bob, please tell us a little about yourself, your background, and how you got into this business.

Bob Evans: Well, it was a long time ago, when there was no world wide web. I ran one of the first Veronica Gopher servers. I was teaching grandmothers how to do email, so they could email their kids in college.

At that time colleges had the first ARP connections, TCP/IP started working right, and that was way back when… That’s how I got started.

I’ve got a high school education, dropped out of college, so generally every time I start a business and build it up, sell it to somebody with lots of money and VCs, they (eventually) ask me to leave because I don’t have a degree. Then they usually do quite well. I’ve been doing this a long time.

But when I started the Fiber Internet Center, what happened was, people kind of thought I was crazy, because I had just had a very successful, one of the first cable modem companies in the US, and by starting the Fiber Internet Center/FIC at a time when the “Dot Bomb” occurred everybody thought, you know, “how are you going to make a living doing that?”

The real key was making the deals. Because all of the (network) providers, and the people with fiber and stuff like that, didn’t really have a lot of customers. So, they were willing to listen to me and cut me some deals. So that’s how I got started with the Fiber Internet Center.

Pacific-Tier: Tell us a little about the FIC. What is the vision, or what is the mission of FIC?

Bob Evans: Well. Its primarily,… like you find colo (colocation) facilities that are “carrier neutral,…” I like to look at us as a network company that is carrier neutral. Although we do sell circuits and services like IP transit (Internet network access), it is kind of a necessary evil, because we only have about 8 or 9 other ISPs (Internet Service Providers) currently serving our market.

So they use our network in the market place to service their customers. So we’ll build a network within our network to service other companies.

Pacific-Tier: So the FIC is present in Northern California, the San Francisco, San Jose, the bay area, as well as Los Angeles. What value does the FIC, or a company like the FIC bring to a market like California that is not available through another carrier like Level 3, an XO Communications, an AT&T, or that scale of carrier?

Bob Evans: Well, most of those companies will go ahead and install their circuit in the basement of a building, or in the MPOE (main point of entry), and then only allow you to use their IP (Internet network access).

For example, Level 3 isn’t about to go ahead and market the fact that I could have VLANs in that building like I would have and connect them to ISPs. That’s the real advantage. A customer could buy a circuit from us, then they can buy Internet transit from us too, then they’ll turn around and say “gee, you are over at the PAIX (Palo Alto Internet Exchange), over at places like Market Post Tower, One Wilshire and everything,…”

Then they’ll say “there’s this other company we’re working with, and we’d like a connection direct to their office. They’re using Cogent bandwidth (or something like that), could you make that come in here on another port?”

And we’ll do it. Most (other) companies will say “no.” But that’s actually part of our business strategy.

Pacific-Tier: Well, that’s a great utility, for both the enterprises and other carriers within your area. Where does the FIC go from here? What is in the future of FIC?

Bob Evans: Lately it’s become one of the discovery that most of these business now feel a critical need to not have their mail server, or other types of critical databases remain on their campus. Or they want to have a backup of it someplace else. So we’re now creating a service in other data centers where you get a circuit from us, then we’ll give you another port that gives you a layer 2 connection back to your rack or your server in those facilities, or one of our facilities.

This gives you the added benefit of having your own private network to the back side of your server, then it gives you the advantage of maybe having your server connected to other Internet providers in one of those other colo facilities, or maybe you could even carry that Internet back to your place and have two Internet providers.

So I think the advantage is, if you get a circuit from us you get the flexibility.

Pacific-Tier: Well that’s great. I think it is a great utility for the community. The final question is, you’re an entrepreneur, in tough economic times, with lots of graduates hitting the street, what advice do you have for people who are considering starting their own companies, or emerging entrepreneurs?

Bob Evans: Well, that’s a very good question.

During bad economic time I always find that not to discourage me, and I wouldn’t let anybody discourage them either. The reason is because in the midst of chaos, there’s usually always opportunity. And as soon as you explain that opportunity to somebody else who’s got money or can help you, or needs a service that you have, it’s actually easier to make business deals.

Pacific-Tier: That’s great advice.

Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to visit the FIC again, and thanks for your time.

Bob Evans: You’re welcome – thank you

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