Lance Crosby spent eight years building SoftLayer at a time when very few knew what “the cloud” even was. That journey wrapped up after IBM acquired his company for $2 billion in 2013. Fast-forward to today, and Crosby is at it again, hoping to change the way people consume cybersecurity.
“The concept … where you have to sign up for 10-year, $100 million contracts are gone,” he said, adding that working with IBM accentuated some of the challenges of cloud security. “They want to pay for it by exactly the amount they use.”
Crosby’s latest venture, StackPath, emerged from stealth mode in July and will begin accepting new customers via its website by mid-September. The startup, which recently raised $150 million in Series A funding, offers consumers “learning” software that is able to become more threat-aware as time passes and identify and communicate real-time threats. It employs about 150 people, 50 of whom are in Dallas, and is expected to quadruple its office footprint by the end of next month.
“We’re creating something that has never existed,” Crosby said about his new model. “We’re going to take some traditional technologies that everyone is used to and combine them in a way that hasn’t been been done before.”
StackPath boasts an on-demand consumption model, Crosby said, meaning that users can go to the StackPath website, try out the software, and plug in payment info if they like it. Then, he explained, the company will charge the customer based on usage as a way of “short-circuiting” the sales cycle to go directly to the consumer.
Though Crosby jokes that the company started out of the Fat Rabbit restaurant and bar in Uptown, where he hired his first employee, StackPath has quickly gained traction. It already has more than 30,000 customers who came from its four acquired companies—Los Angeles-based MaxCDN and Staminus, Israel’s Fireblade, and Seattle-based Cloak. And while it currently operates out of a small space at the Crescent measuring about 7,000 square feet, StackPath will soon have plenty of room to grow. The company’s new space will be at McKinney and Olive, where it will occupy the entire 11th floor, or 30,000 square feet of space.
While Crosby is enjoying building a solid foundation for the new venture, he’s also re-acclimating himself to the grind of starting a company from scratch. “I had forgotten how hard it was in the early days,” he said. “This is the fourth one, and they never seem to get easier.”
To get the new company off the ground, Crosby leaned on some experienced hands—Andrew Higginbotham, former CenturyLink cloud executive; Steven Canale, former vice president of sales at SoftLayer; and Nick Nelson, former business development vice president at Amazon.
“At all the companies I’ve created, I’ve been the visionary,” he said, hastening to add that he made sure to surround himself with the right people. “I recruited some of the top talent in the industry.”
StackPath initially began in May of last year on Crosby’s dollar, he said. But he quickly turned around and raised a $30 million friends-and-family financing round before landing the multimillion-dollar investment from ABRY Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm.
Now, with the team in place, clients lined up, and the investments in pocket, Crosby is focused on growing StackPath’s portfolio. While he can’t go on record about his big-name customers yet, he expects to announce some recognizable companies in the near future.