• Celebrate National Small Business Week!

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 20, 2013

    Small businesses are the backbone of America – and during National Small Business week, we’re celebrating these great companies!

    Just a few years ago, in 2005, Carbonite was a small start-up founded by Dave Friend after his daughter’s term paper was lost in a computer crash. Now, we’re a public company with almost 500 employees! But we still have that start-up spirit, and Dave Friend is always looking for ways to reach, empower and advise entrepreneurs − which is why he launched the Friends with Friend series!

    Check out what Dave has to say about Carbonite’s beginnings and the factors he considers critical to small business growth and success.

    If you have questions for Dave, you can submit them here. He may have the answer for you in an upcoming webisode!

  • Boston Reflections

    by Lynnette Nolan | Apr 22, 2013

    It has been a shocking, sad and incredible week here in Boston, Carbonite's hometown.  So many Carbonite employees live in and around downtown and the areas in the news this past week – and we have been so amazed by the outpouring of support we saw from the community – from our customers and industry partners, and from stories we heard on the news and from our own neighbors and loved ones.

    The past week was intense and like nothing anyone has really experienced here before. But Boston is a city with a great, vibrant heart and it will recover, and while we are still recovering from a devastating tragedy, we are so overwhelmed by and grateful for the bravery and heroism of the first responders, all of our police and law enforcement agents, and all of our citizens. The spirit and heart of Boston will help us all to heal and bring us through.

    In the days that followed the explosions, there were quite a few extra cops in the neighborhood.  I talked to one who was just outside the Prudential Mall near our offices, and he said the increased police presence was simply to make people feel more comfortable. We certainly appreciate their work to keep us safe while the investigation progressed. Today, we are back in our offices at work, as are many other businesses, but we continue to contemplate the pain and suffering of those who lost relatives, children, and friends and those who are in the hospital recovering from grievous and traumatic injuries. 

    As we know so many people are generously giving to charities to support the Boston Marathon bombing victims, we wanted to share this article from Boston.com with info on how to be sure you are choosing your donation sites carefully. At Carbonite, we are proud to be donating to charitable organization One Fund Boston by matching any donations made by our employees.

    At 2:50 pm today, Carbonite will join Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino – along with so many others, for a minute of silence in Boston and across the Commonwealth. We are Boston Strong.

  • Insights from Dave Friend: Why Zmanda is a Great Fit

    by Lynnette Nolan | Nov 01, 2012
    This week, Carbonite completed the acquisition of Zmanda - a leader in database and server backup (both to local media and to the cloud). I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on why this is so exciting.

    Last summer we launched Carbonite Business, a version of Carbonite specifically tailored to small businesses.  It includes features that businesses were asking for like remote access, NAS backup, and file backup for Windows Server.  And we made the pricing simple: unlimited number of computers sharing 250GBs of storage (or 500GBs for the Premier version).  

    While Carbonite Business does a great job of backing up computers and all their files, we did not attempt to backup production databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Exchange, MySQL and others.  In talking to our customers and resellers, they made it very clear that backing up production databases was such a mission critical job that they would be very careful about adopting a new and untested solution.  So building a database product ourselves didn’t seem like the right solution.  Yet I knew that there were many customers and resellers who wanted to get both PC backup and Server backup from one vendor.  

    When I met the CEO of Zmanda, a well-respected and established player in database server backup, I found they had the opposite problem – they did a great job of backing up servers, but since they didn’t offer continuous online computer backup like we do, they also wanted to provide a more complete solution.  That’s when we decided it would make a great deal of sense for Carbonite to acquire Zmanda.  I installed Zmanda on my home server and I was impressed with how simple it was to use, even though server backup can be pretty technical stuff.  And the pricing for Zmanda is a fraction of what similar functionality would cost from the leading legacy vendors.  

    Zmanda is based on an open source backup system originally developed at the University of Maryland and is still one of the most widely used backup systems in academic and government data centers.  The Zmanda team saw an opportunity to provide professional support for Amanda and to create proprietary extensions for popular commercial databases and operating systems.  Zmanda has since taken primary responsibility for supporting the open source Amanda code, and they estimate that prior to their taking it over the open source community had already contributed over 200 man-years of development.  This is a very robust and mature product.  

    Today, Zmanda is the sole commercial version of Amanda, which is now running on over one million systems and is one of the most widely used server backup systems in the world.  It was also one of the first server backup companies to recognize the value of the cloud.  So it is indeed a great fit with Carbonite.   

    As we integrate the two products in coming months, we’ll be able to deliver an unparalleled range of cloud backup solutions to small businesses. Small businesses can have all their backup needs met by one company.  We’ve already started the process of training our Boston sales team and our customer support team in Maine on the Zmanda product line.  

    If you are running nearly any SQL database or are running your own email server using Microsoft Exchange, please give us a call so that you can learn how Carbonite can now save you money and make your life simpler.  Feel free to contact us at 1-855-CARB-BIZ (1-855-227-2249) or BusinessTeam@carbonite.com, or if you’re a reseller, contact us at 1-877-391-4759 or resellers@carbonite.com.    

    Regards, 
    Dave Friend, CEO

  • The Buzz Over Big Data: Thoughts from Dave Friend

    by Lynnette Nolan | Oct 30, 2012

    I presented last week at Xconomy's BIG DATA Forum.  It wasn't until after I accepted that I realized I didn't know what the term big data actually means.  So I turned to Wikipedia to find out.  According to Wikipedia, "The term big data is a buzzword, and is frequently misused to mean any form of large-scale data or information processing."  Well, that explains why I was invited to speak.  "Large-scale data" is Carbonite in a nutshell.  I wouldn't use the term "big data" for Carbonite.  We're more like "Extremely Large Data" or "gigundous amounts of data."

    Big data is far from a new idea, of course.  Regression analysis, one of the first mathematical treatments of data sets, was described by the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss in the early 1800s.  Back in the early 1990s, I was CEO of a company in Cambridge called Pilot Software and we did what at that time was called Data Mining.  Our flagship product was a multidimensional database that was especially good at slicing and dicing very large transactional databases looking for patterns and anomalies.  It was used by companies like McDonald's and JCPenney to uncover nuggets of useful management information in the vast quantities transactional data produced by their cash registers.  There are many other buzzwords that have come and gone as well, including business intelligence, data analytics, decision support, data dredging and so on.

    So I had to ask myself, what's makes big data different from the "data mining" I was doing more than a decade ago.  As far as I can tell, it's mostly a matter of quantity, with data now coming from all kinds of devices and places, not just cash registers.

    So, just why does big data warrant a new buzzword?  I can think of three reasons: 1) it's probably harder to raise venture capital for a data mining company these days, 2) maybe it helps IT professionals justify bigger budgets, and 3) of course, how could you organize a successful conference without a new buzzword? ;)

    Personally, I appreciate that Google can use big data to serve up an ad for something I might actually find interesting or that Netflix knows that I might prefer Steven Hawking to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  But I'd be cautious about all the hype about big data because it's is no substitute for judgment.  Judgment is actually the ultimate form of big data.  You are taking a lifetime of experiences and applying them in a very sophisticated way to predict what's going to happen in the future.  For example, with all the data that's available in the financial markets, with computers making millisecond high velocity trades, MIT-trained physicists and mathematicians laboring away in the bowels of Goldman Sachs,  there is still no way to replace a Peter Lynch or a Warren Buffet.

    The stuff we do with computers is trivial by comparison.  This morning when I was eating breakfast, my cat leapt a good six feet from the sink to the table and landed perfectly right between my newspaper and the cereal bowl.  I thought, wow, now that's big data at work.  Think of the accumulated experience and judgment that it took to pull that off.  Think of the enormous quantity of visual data, the 3D image processing, the billions of neurons, the precise muscle control, the knowledge that if you land on the newspaper it's going to slide, and the knowledge that if you land on my cereal bowl you're going to get whacked.  That's big data and it's humbling.

    So that brought me back to what was I doing talking about big data? Is Carbonite really big data or just ‘a lot of data'?  Well, according to another definition I found on the web, "Big data involves the extraction of useful insight from volumes of data so large that traditional database tools cannot handle the workload."   Well, we would certainly qualify on to "too large for traditional database" front.  In fact, we get over 300 million new files every day.  And we add around a petabyte of storage every couple of weeks.  I doubt that very many companies in New England have more data than Carbonite. 

    But as for the "insights," well, the whole idea in backup is you have this sacred trust with your customers that you're not supposed to know anything about them. And you're certainly not supposed to be able to glean any kind of insights from the contents of their computers.   To break that sacred trust would probably spell doom in our business.  We spend tens of millions a year on advertising to create a trusted brand.  What does "trusted" brand mean?  It means your data is private. Confidential. Secure.  Nobody gets to look at it for any reason.  We bend over backwards to encrypt at every step of the process.  There are zero unencrypted customer files in our data centers.  We hire white-hat hackers to try to compromise our security.  We have PhDs on our team whose sole job is to prevent people from extracting insights from our customer's data.  So just what do we do with all that data?  We store it and give it back to our customers when they want it.  That's it.

    The one thing we may have in common with big data is that it takes very specialized technology just to deal with the volumes.  Commercial databases and file systems aren't designed to work at this scale.  I remember when we were first starting out we stored backed up files using Window's NTFS file system.  When we got to about 500 million files, things got trickier.  So we called Microsoft and they asked "How many files do you have?"  We told them "about 500 million."  There was a good 10 seconds of silence on the other end of the line.   "Uh, NTFS wasn't really designed to handle that many files."  Since then we have backed up over 200 billion files and keeping track of all of them and insuring that none of them are corrupted takes very specialized technology.  Especially when you consider that it has to be done very inexpensively because we offer unlimited backup for $59 per year.

    And all this new data comes salted with some interesting new privacy issues.  While we most definitely don't want to know anything about the data on our customers' computers, we do know some things that help us provide a better service WITHOUT violating the sacred trust between us and our users.  For example, we can suggest tips and user hints based on the type of computer or mobile devices our customers are using Carbonite with.

    But, as I think about big data on whole, one concern is that even data that is innocuous by social media or credit card company standards, tilts the playing field away from the inpidual.  For example, if I am shopping for a flight, it's easy for a travel site to figure out how badly I need to go on a certain day and price my ticket accordingly.  Think about it.  If you're on a plane with 200 other passengers, how many do you think paid the same price that you paid?  It's the same with hotel rooms, or any number of other services.   The problem is the systems know more about you than you probably want them to know, and that could put you potentially at a disadvantage.

    Something else to consider is the potential for prying.  In most countries, we assume our governments are benign, that the magazines we read, the books we take from the library, the causes we support, the purchases we make, even the places we visit, will not be used by some government to persecute us in the future.  It doesn't even have to be a government – when you apply for a home mortgage for example, and you're denied, do you really always know the whole truth about why?  It's all in your big data, but that doesn't mean the data is correct and it doesn't mean that you will ever know what's really there.

    For those of you whose businesses are based on big data, I urge you to use caution when dealing with privacy issues.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant."  I think that may apply to businesses as well.

  • National Small Business Week = Tips and a Special Offer

    by Lynnette Nolan | May 22, 2012

    Did you know that this is National Small Business Week? At Carbonite, we’re always impressed by the hard work and amazing accomplishments of our nation’s small businesses, and we are excited to have the opportunity to recognize them small businesses for their positive impact on the lives of their customers, their employees and the economy.

    Carbonite CEO David Friend, an entrepreneur at heart who has founded six companies, offers the following tips for helping small businesses best leverage online services:

    1. Social media platforms connect you with your customers.  Whether it’s Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest, it’s important to leverage social media channels to connect with your customers.  These channels may be one of the quickest ways to let your customers know about your offerings and to remind them of your services. 
    2. Listen with your eyes.  The internet has given consumers a new way to voice their opinions: sharing recommendations and reviews via a multitude of online review sites.  Look at these sites regularly to see what customers are saying about you and set up feeds and alerts where possible so you have real-time updates. Use this as an opportunity to respond to criticism and accept compliments from customers. 
    3. You’ve got mail.  In today’s fast-paced times, consumers may prefer to fire off an email asking you a question. Try to answer emails quickly, which will show the customer that you care about them and that you are able to help them with any issues. A quick response can improve overall customer satisfaction. 
    4. Beware of data thieves.  With more business conducted online than ever before, cyber security should be top of mind. To protect your data do not open suspicious emails, use strong passwords, and also make sure your anti-virus and anti-malware signature database is up to date.
    5. Make sure you’re protected.  Results from a recent study by Carbonite revealed small businesses have big gaps in their data backup plans – putting them at risk for losing valuable information in the instance of power outage, hard drive failure, or even a virus. Online (cloud) backup from Carbonite offers an affordable, more reliable way for small to medium sized businesses to back up their valuable data.

    AND, we’re offering a special discount on Carbonite Business products to help small business owners protect their valuable data. Now, through May 31, we’re offering 3 free bonus months with new Carbonite Business plan subscriptions.

    To take advantage of this special offer, enter the code SMBWEEK at time of purchase. Small businesses can call 1-877-334-7621 or email businesssales@carbonite.com for additional details.

  • 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs: Make Mistakes, Move Fast, Recover and Learn

    by Lynnette Nolan | Mar 01, 2012
    Of all the lessons I’ve learned in business, rule #5 from my personal 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs - Make mistakes, move fast, recover and learn - should apply to everyone from the CEO on down.  But it doesn’t mean that we should strive for mistakes.  It means is that you have complete tolerance for good bets that go wrong.  There’s a big difference between mistakes that are the result of incompetence and mistakes that are the result of a carefully considered risk that goes sour.   

    Let me give you an example.  Suppose an engineering team releases a product that turns out to have an obvious security flaw that causes huge harm to the company’s reputation.  It turns out that nobody had performed adequate testing.  That’s simple incompetence and somebody clearly really messed up.   On the other hand, let’s say that in order to beat a competitor to market, an engineering team takes some shortcuts to get a new product out the door in half the time that they had originally estimated.  Nevertheless, the product flops.  It would be easy to say in retrospect, “You should have done more market research, more testing, more focus groups, etc.” but those processes would have delayed the product to the point where it would have surely flopped.  The bottom line: you took a chance, and you failed.   Now, you need to figure out why you failed so your next chance unfolds differently.  What could have been done differently that would have made the outcome more favorable?  How will you apply what you learned to the next product?  And, is it too late to go back and fix what went wrong and try again?   

    In a fast moving industry, you can’t eliminate risk.  Trying to eliminate risk is like driving by looking in the rear view mirror – as long as the road is straight, it works fine. 

    -Dave Friend, Carbonite CEO

  • 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs: Hire People Who Know More Than You Do

    by Lynnette Nolan | Feb 23, 2012
    It’s National Entrepreneurship Week in the U.S., and in honor of the celebration I’d like to continue on with my 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs and talk about Rule #6, “Grow your team. Hire people who know more than you do.”

    The idea of hiring people who know more than you do seems obvious and most CEOs don’t have a problem with it. No CEO is going to turn down an opportunity to hire a really great engineer, for example. But often it’s a different story when it comes to senior management, the people who report directly to the CEO. Really smart and competent people in these positions can be threatening to some CEOs, and rightly so. Nearly anyone in a senior management position thinks about where they go next in their careers, and the answer often is “I’d like to be a CEO myself someday. Most CEOs came up through the management ranks themselves and were once VPs of Marketing, Engineering, Finance, etc., so they know what it’s like. CEOs with even the slightest insecurity (and most of us have some) may be uncomfortable hiring someone who could potentially turn out to be smarter and more competent than they are.

    So sometimes a really great hire is passed over with the rationalization that “s/he’s too aggressive, won’t fit in, will threaten other members of the team, has too many opinions, is arrogant, etc. Often these rationalizations are simply the result of the CEO’s own insecurities. My solution to banishing such rationalizations is to try to honestly work myself out of a job. It probably won’t come to that, of course, because in reality CEOs rarely get fired for hiring great teams.

    I’d like to think that most of my VPs are smart enough that they could step into my job if necessary, and do a pretty good job of it. In fact, this helps make my job gets easier and more fun. I can tell you that it’s great to be able to go away for a couple of weeks knowing that the company will run just as well without me as it does when I am there. To use a baseball analogy, the coach doesn’t need to be able to play shortstop, or first base, or outfield. He just needs a strategy for the team and know how to hire the players who can execute on that strategy.

    When you have a team that knows more than your do, every day can be a great learning experience. My VPs know more about marketing, engineering, operations, finance, and so forth, than I do, and consequently every day I learn from them. Strategy discussions among my team are as intense and exhausting as a late night college debate. This makes coming to work fun and exhilarating and we are stronger together as a team.

    If you’re a CEO or aspire to be one, you’ll never stop needing to learn. How will you learn unless every member of your team knows more than you do?


    -Dave Friend, Carbonite CEO

  • 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs: Be Transparent

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jan 04, 2012

    In November I posted 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs, my list of the top 10 lessons I’ve learned in business. I’ve since began exploring each of my rules a bit further, sharing with you the experiences behind the rules. This week I’d like to share a story about Rule #7, “Be transparent. The more people know, the better.”

    When I was in my 20s, I had a short stint working as an arms control researcher at the Pentagon. It was all top-secret stuff requiring many levels of security clearances. One aspect of top-secret security is the so-called “need to know” rule. Regardless of someone’s security clearance level, if they don’t need to know something, you don’t tell them; and the fewer people who know anything, the better.

    In such an environment, the first thing you think of when you meet someone is, “what does he know that I don’t know and he’s not telling?” Information quickly becomes a currency that buys you favors, power, and prestige. The pervasive secrecy makes for an excruciating working experience. At least that’s the way I felt about it, being near the bottom of the totem pole. I resolved that if I were ever in a situation where I could set the rules for transparency, it would be the opposite of my experience in the government.

    In business, the idea of “need to know,” exists only in the narrowest circumstances, such as compensation and personnel records. Otherwise, my recommendation is always to be completely open with people about what’s going on. That doesn’t mean cc’ing the entire company on emails or holding large meetings, though. If employees have enough on their plates, they won’t seek out unnecessary information because they simply won’t have the time. If I am on the cc list for something that I don’t have time for, I simply ask politely to be removed from future communication. That’s better than just deleting the mail, or blocking it, because it also sends a not-so-subtle message about too much email. On the other hand, if someone requests to be copied on email, I’m generally happy to oblige, but if I don’t see the relevance, I’ll wonder if the individual needs to have their deliverables tightened up.

    The only exception to my “open book” policy is where information could leak out and be damaging to the company. For example, my company is now public and if our financial results leaked out before our quarterly earnings release, we could be in big trouble. Similarly, I’m sure that our competitors would love to see our strategic plan and product roadmap, so the fewer people who have their hands on such documents; the less likely they are to leak out. But as far as people inside the company knowing what is going on and what our plans are, we discuss those things openly all the time.

    -Dave Friend, Carbonite CEO

  • 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs: Be Respectful and Thankful

    by Lynnette Nolan | Dec 06, 2011

    A few weeks ago I posted 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs, a list of the top 10 lessons I’ve learned in business that have led to success. This week, I’d like to talk about my Rule #8, “Be respectful and thankful. People do things because they want to, not because they have to. Set a good example.”

    Most successful entrepreneurs are pretty smart people. But it’s amazing how illogical and tone deaf some people can be when it comes to motivating people. We’ve all read stories about certain CEOs who are famous for the abusive and humiliating ways that they treat employees, vendors, and sometimes even customers.

    I was having lunch with an investment banker friend recently who had just come from a meeting with the young CEO of an extremely successful company. He told me that, “The worst thing about my job is that I have to deal with some of the most arrogant people in the world. Just because this guy is fabulously rich, he thinks it’s fun to make everyone else grovel. You come away hoping the worst for him.”

    Now, that left me thinking what has this CEO accomplished by treating his banker this way? How does it advance his business and even his own self-interests?

    The CEO sets the tone for the company. If he or she is rude, dismissive, and arrogant to the company’s employees, they in turn will start to act the same way to their subordinates, and so on down the line. The result will be a poisonous company culture that people will tolerate maybe only so long as everyone is making a lot of money. The minute there is a rough patch, people will pack it in quickly.

    However, a CEO who listens attentively and is genuinely interested in what others have to say, will send signals to the VPs that it’s fine to argue, fine to be passionate, and fine to disagree, so long as it is all done in the spirit of common good and common courtesy. The CEO should hold managers to high standards of performance, but I don’t believe that behavior like humiliating a VP in front of his peers accomplishes anything positive, other than perhaps to make that CEO feel better.

    The CEO is the one who can create a culture that makes everyone proud of their company and happy to come to work in the morning and put their shoulders to the wheel. And little gestures from the CEO can go a long way. I keep a box on my desk with note cards, envelopes, and stamps. When an employee does something that is above and beyond the call of duty, I’ll often take a minute and send them a hand-written thank you note. Sometimes, years later, I’ll still see those notes pinned up in their cubes.

    -Dave Friend, Carbonite CEO

  • 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs: Stay Humble, Success is Fleeting

    by Lynnette Nolan | Nov 22, 2011

    Last week I posted 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs, a list of the top 10 lessons I’ve learned in business that have led to success. In the weeks to come I’ll elaborate further, providing an in-depth look at several of these key learnings from my own experiences as an entrepreneur.

    Working backwards on my list, I’d like to talk about #9, “Stay humble, success is fleeting.”   

    When I was starting my entrepreneurial career in Boston, the biggest and most successful tech company in New England was Digital Equipment Corp, or DEC, which later became a part of Compaq and then Hewlett-Packard.  It was the world’s largest mini-computer manufacturer with revenues of over $14 billion.  In 1986, Fortune Magazine proclaimed DEC CEO Ken Olsen “America’s most successful entrepreneur.”  Famously (though somewhat taken out of context perhaps), Olsen stated , “The personal computer will fall flat on its face in business.”  By 1992, DEC was a shadow of its former self, and in July 1992, Olsen resigned.  Olsen, once one of the giants of the computer industry, was ridiculed for completely missing the PC revolution.  

    Just remember, today’s heroes may be tomorrow’s goats.  One thing I can say about Olsen is that nobody gloated over his downfall because, true to his New England roots, he remained a modest man; he did not indulge in fancy trappings or bling and never seemed to boast of his wealth. This isn’t something you can necessarily say for all titans of industry, but it is a good lesson for all of us when we’re on the way up.  


    -Dave Friend, Carbonite CEO
  • 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs

    by Lynnette Nolan | Nov 14, 2011

    Carbonite is my sixth company since getting out of college in 1969.  I am frequently asked to talk about the lessons I’ve learned that have lead to a string of successful businesses.  Since this week marks Global Entrepreneurship Week, it seems a good time to share my top-10 list, and over the coming weeks, I’ll elaborate on some of these points.   

    Dave’s 10 rules for Entrepreneurs

    1. Know where you are.  Know where you’re going.  Execute your plans.
    2. It’s always about the product.   Our products must delight every day.  
    3. Service matters more than sales. Do whatever it takes to make customers happy.  Apologize when we screw up.
    4. Measure everything.   Fix what’s broken.  Juice what’s working.  
    5. Make mistakes.  Move fast, recover, learn.
    6. Grow your team.  Hire people who know more than you do.  
    7. Be transparent.  The more people know, the better.   
    8. Be respectful and thankful.  People do things because they want to, not because they have to.  Set a good example.
    9. Stay humble.  Success is fleeting.  
    10. Enjoy the moment.  Stop to savor achievements. 

    I’m going to start with the last point, “Enjoy the Moment,” because Carbonite recently went public – an achievement reached by only a tiny percentage of startups.  If ever there was a moment to enjoy, this would sure rank up there.  I got to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ exchange, go outside into Times Square and see myself and the Carbonite logo on the 60-foot-high jumbotron, and watch the ticker as the first public shares of Carbonite were traded.  

    Here’s the challenge:  We still have a company to run.  We still have competitors chasing after us.  We still have schedules to hit, milestones to achieve, engineering projects to complete on time, data centers to keep running, and on and on.  An IPO doesn’t change any of that.  Since doing all those things well is what got us to the point of an IPO in the first place, it’s pretty hard to stop worrying about them for even a minute.  

    But life is short.  Even though an IPO is just a waypoint on the journey, I have to remember that there are 300 other employees here for whom this is a proud moment.  So I did take a breath, and thought about the fact that just a few years ago Carbonite was just an idea we were tossing around on a warm summer day.  The curse of being an entrepreneur is that the challenges never let up, but if you can’t stop and enjoy the successes along the way, you’re going to turn into a grouchy old scrooge.  Who would want to work for someone who never seems to get enjoyment out of his work and achievements?   So my advice is:  stop to savor the moment.  It will recharge your batteries for the next round of challenges and it will make you more fun to be around.


    - Dave Friend, Carbonite Chairman & CEO

  • Carbonite Founder and CEO David Friend will Run, Eat, Drink & Pitch with MassChallenge

    by Lynnette Nolan | Sep 19, 2011

    Carbonite Founder and CEO David Friend has been in the technology startup scene for more than 25 years. In fact, it's safe to say that startup culture runs through David's veins, and Carbonite's as well.

    But did you know David is also an avid runner?

    Startup enthusiasts and runners in Boston are invited to join David Friend and MassChallenge tonight for the MassChallenge Run, Eat, Drink & Pitch Group 5k fun run/walk. Runners and walkers will depart from the MassChallenge offices at Fan Pier at 7:00 p.m. After the run, David and other local entrepreneurs will deliver 60-second pitches about their startups.

    There will be food and drink, and the event is free. For more information and registration, visit the MassChallenge/RunMenu event page.

    MassChallenge is a non-profit organization that connects early stage entrepreneurs to the resources they need to launch high-growth, high-impact businesses immediately. Here's a peek at last month's event so you can see what the night will entail.

    See you there!

  • 5 Tips from a Serial Entrepreneur

    by Lynnette Nolan | May 19, 2011

    In honor of Small Business week, I wanted to share a few insights that I believe will help any entrepreneur get their new business off to a good start.

    Tip 1: Write the advertisement first

    Writing a long business plan is relatively easy. Creating an effective pitch deck is a lot harder. Writing the ad for your company is harder still. But it’s the first thing you should do. Pretend you’re pitching your product on a billboard. What would you say? What visual would you pick? The exercise of writing your ad forces you to think about the problem that you’re solving, who you’re selling to, and how you are going to explain your value proposition in just a few words. If you can’t write a compelling ad for your business, there’s no point in creating a business plan. Nobody will sit still long enough to read it.

    Tip 2: Pick a Name

    Try your best to pick a name that reflects what you do, is memorable, and is easy to spell. Names like Facebook, SpeedDate, and Twitter, all give you a clue about what the company does. Another consideration should be finding a name that someone can spell when they hear it spoken. For brands like Nexxo, xRos, Pyxis, and Psystar, you’d be hard pressed to guess the spelling if you heard the word. So why make finding your company any harder than it needs to be? And finally, you have to be able to register or buy the URL. Be prepared to pay the squatter.

    Tip 3: Don’t focus on your financials

    Just about everyone who’s starting a business creates detailed financial forecasts – P&L, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow. For the most part, in the very early days these are pie-in-the-sky numbers and all look the same, with huge numbers 4 or 5 years out. What’s really important is unit economics. Instead, focus on the economics of a single average customer. Let’s take the example of a cell phone carrier. The whole business boils down to four simple metrics: 1) how much it is going to cost you to acquire an average customer, 2) how much revenue (and gross margin) will the customer bring in each year, and 3) how long will you keep each customer. Break these down to prove out your assumptions. For example if you bring in customers by advertising on TV, 1) how many ad dollars will it take to get someone to your web site or to your store, 2) how many potential customers will try your product, 3) how many potential customers will become repeat customers, and so forth.

    Tip 4: Don’t bother with the elaborate business plan. All you need is a pitch deck.

    This document will make or break your fund raising. Don’t start with a lot of company background or backstories. Jump right into the business: here’s what we’re going to sell, here’s why we think people will buy it, here’s how much it will cost to make, here’s why it’s different, and here’s why we think it will be big. Present any evidence you have that people will actually buy whatever it is that you’re proposing to make. If you still have their interest, talk about your team and their ability to execute, and other background materials. The point is, don’t try to set the stage. Just jump right into selling your idea.

    Tip 5: Check your ego at the door.

    Prepare for multiple rejections. Typically, investors will look for reasons NOT to invest, including the following: You probably can’t design it; if you can you won’t know how to manufacture it; you won’t be able to reach your potential customers; they won’t buy it anyway; you probably don’t know how to run a company; your team doesn’t have the experience; and whatever it is, Microsoft or Google will probably give it away for free anyway. Just be prepared to pitch, pitch, pitch. You only need one person to believe.

    Dave
    CEO, Carbonite

  • The Hub of Entrepreneurship

    by Lynnette Nolan | Dec 21, 2010

    Here's an interesting map that shows the funding of new businesses by state.  I was a little surprised that Massachusetts, Carbonite's home state, had more startup fundraising deals per capita than any other state in the country, including California. 



    So what is it about Massachusetts that makes it such a hotbed of entrepreneurialism?  Certainly the educational infrastructure is one thing.  From my office on the 15th floor, I can see Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Boston Univeristy, the University of Massachusetts, Boston College, Mass College of Art, Tufts, The New England Conservatory, Wellesley, Simmons, and roughly 50 other colleges.  I can also see the Museum of Fine Arts with its fabulous new $250 million American Arts wing, Symphony Hall (arguably the best sounding concert hall in the United States), Jordan Hall, the Opera House, the Huntington Theater, the Performing Arts center, the Shubert Theater, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and more museums and libraries than I can count. 

    So what does all that have to do with startups and venture capital?  A lot, in my opinion.  One characteristic common among entrepreneurs is an insatiable curiosity.  When you do a startup, it’s like being in college, only a lot more intense.  Each day is packed with new challenges and new things to learn and understand.  Your life can be an intense intellectual experience, so much so that you’re exhausted at the end of the day.  But the people who do jobs like mine love the constant learning, the daily uncertainty, and the “making something out of nothing” quality of our work.  It’s like being a painter confronted with a blank canvas; instead of creating a painting, you create a company. 
     
    Creative people thrive when they are surrounded by other creative people, whether they are scientists  and engineers, or composers, writers, and artists.  It’s a sea of creativity in which to swim.  That’s what’s special about Massachusetts and why this is such a hotbed of business creation.  The kind of people who like to make something out of nothing are comfortable here, amidst the great artists, musicians, scientists, inventors, and scholars. It all fits together splendidly.
     
    Dave

  • AppleTV Drops Local Storage in Favor of the Cloud

    by Lynnette Nolan | Oct 19, 2010

    Apple recently released a new version of their AppleTV. For those of you who aren't familiar with this device, I'll share a bit of history.

    When AppleTV launched a little over three years ago, it was essentially an iPod, the size of a book, that you could plug into your TV. You could purchase a model with a 40GB hard drive for $299, import your music, videos and photos to it and enjoy these files through your TV and home stereo. It was an innovative product, but it never really took off the way many of Apple's products have. My instinct tells me that many people were not willing to pay $299 for a glorified 40GB hard drive they could plug into their TV.

    Fast-forward three years to the current release. This version is just $99 and it now fits in the palm of your hand. How did Apple manage to deliver a more fully- featured device at 1/3 the cost just a few short years later? Easy – they dropped local storage and moved the content to the cloud.

    The new AppleTV streams music, videos and photos from any Apple computer in your home network, as well as a new streaming rental system that offers instant delivery of movies and TV shows both from Netflix and Apple's iTunes store. Not only is this device cheaper, smaller and easier to set-up, but rather than being limited to 40GB of local memory, the new AppleTV will play an unlimited amount of cloud-based content.

    As an entrepreneur, I'm always interested to learn about any new product coming out of Cupertino – they run a product development and marketing machine out there that is the envy of the tech industry. However, I find AppleTV's evolution to be of particular interest, because I see clear parallels between they way they have leveraged the cloud to optimize their product and the way Carbonite has leveraged the cloud to optimize data backup.

    Just a few years ago, when you said "backup" it implied a local external hard drive. Now, with products like Carbonite, it's all in the cloud. Like the original Apple TV, traditional backup methods are limited by storage capacity, they are complicated, expensive, and easy for the average user to mess up. Plus, consumer-grade external hard drives are failure-prone and easy to damage. Knock one off the table onto a hard floor, and all your data is gone.

    With the new AppleTV, you don't need a local drive – movies stream directly over the Internet. The same thing happens with Carbonite. If you have Carbonite, all of your files are automatically in the cloud. You don't have to do a thing – it just happens. Now that your files are in the cloud, you can get to them from anywhere. Want to show your friend at work a picture that's on your home computer? No problem – Carbonite has your picture backed up and you can access it on your smartphone using one of our mobile apps. Forgot your laptop for an important presentation? No problem – just grab the powerpoint file from your Carbonite backup using any computer. We're transitioning into a whole new world where all your data lives in your "personal cloud" and is accessible anywhere on Earth, with any device. And it all happens with no effort; no wires, no hardware, no software to learn and nothing to remember other than knowing you're backed up.

    Dave
    CEO, Carbonite

  • "Before You Build the Product, Write the Ad."

    by Lynnette Nolan | Aug 27, 2010

    This sound bite, picked up by a reporter for Inc Magazine when she interviewed me last month as part of her story on Carbonite (we came in as the 9th fastest growing private company in the US, and #1 in technology) has been tweeted and retweeted by scores of people over the last few days. Since it seems to have struck a nerve, I thought it might be a good idea to add a little color to my comment.

    I'm sure you've heard the expression "A solution looking for a problem." Unfortunately, a lot of products get built before their inventors really stop to think about who's going to buy them, or even why anyone would buy them. My mantra to engineers — "Write the ad!" forces them to think about who we're going to sell our product to, what problem the product solves, and why someone would want to buy it. If you can't figure out how to convey this value proposition in a limited number of words, your odds of success are slim.

    I'm not saying that engineers should turn into advertising copywriters. But I am saying that if you can't explain what your product does and why I should care in a few words, how on earth are you ever going to sell it? One good thing about writing the ad first — when you run it by people, you'll know pretty quickly whether your product is worth building.

    Dave
    CEO, Carbonite

  • Carbonite CEO David Friend Named Entrepreneur Of The Year

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 30, 2010

    Congratulations to our CEO, David Friend, who was named the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year for New England in the Emerging Technology – consumer and small business category. Dave was awarded this honor last night at a black tie gala at Boston’s Renaisance Waterfront Hotel.

    Dave now moves on to the National competition which culminates with an awards ceremony in November in Palm Springs. In his acceptance speech, Dave singled out Jeff Flowers, Carbonite’s CTO and Dave’s business partner for over 30 years, as the person whose technical brilliance made this award possible.

    We’ve all experienced Dave’s passion for Carbonite. Carbonite is Dave’s sixth company over a span of nearly 40 years. Those of us who know Dave and have had the privilege of working with him realize that he neither needs or nor seeks the kind of recognition that was awarded him last night. The E&Y Entrepreneurship award is certainly the most prestigious award an entrepreneur can win, and even though we almost had to drag Dave to this competition, we’re very proud that he won. After all the companies he’s founded, all the jobs he’s created, and all the great products he’s introduced to the world, we’re really pleased to see him get the recognition he so deserves.

    So congratulations, Dave. We're proud of Carbonite and we’re proud of you as our leader.

  • Laptop Failure Rates

    by Lynnette Nolan | Nov 23, 2009

    I read an interesting article on Yahoo news this morning: 1 in 3 laptops die in the first three years.

    The survey, conducted by SquareTrade, a warranty company, highlighted the following statistics: Looking at the first 3 years of ownership, 31% of laptop owners reported a failure to SquareTrade. Two-thirds of this failure (20.4%) came from hardware malfunctions, and one-third (10.6%) was reported as accidental damage. The complete report is available here: http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_laptop_reliability_1109.pdf

    These findings correlate quite well with the actual behavior of our users: approximately 11% of our users have to do a full restore of their data each year. Over three years, that's almost exactly the same 33% number. Another interesting statistic from our own user base is that almost half of all users do a partial restore each year — mostly to recover accidentally deleted or overwritten files.

    I'll bet that if you asked the average computer user what the likelihood is of their computer data getting destroyed, they would guess a much lower number. Having a 1 in 3 chance that you are going to lose everything on your PC only highlights why online backup is so important.

    Dave
    CEO, Carbonite

  • Listen to Carbonite CEO, Dave Friend, in the TechByter Podcast

    by Lynnette Nolan | Nov 18, 2009

    Bill Blinn of TechByter Worldwide interviewed our CEO, Dave Friend, for the November 15, 2009 TechByter podcast.

    As a Carbonite fan, Blinn discussed his confidence in our online backup service as he introduce this week’s TechByter podcast, "The real safety net, and it's one that has saved me more times than I like to admit, is Carbonite. It's easy to make a dumb mistake that deletes files I need. I can get them back from my hot backup or from my Acronis backup. But more often than not, I've recovered them from my Carbonite backup."

    Dave's interview can be found on www.TechByter.com in two parts:

    Listen to Part 1 (Audio 5:07)

    Listen to Part 2 (Audio 1:13)

  • Carbonite for Mac Has Launched!

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 16, 2009

    After a really long series of betas, Carbonite for Mac is finally launched and off to a strong start. I have to confess that this product has been a lot longer in coming than I had ever expected. We actually had a working version over a year ago, but when we put it out to the Mac community the feedback was that it had too much of the look and feel of a Windows product. So we decided to assemble a new development team composed only of Mac fanatics and they completely redesigned the interface. We put the resulting new version into beta again about 4 months ago, and this time the reaction from the Mac community has been great. "Simple and intuitive, just like the Mac," one beta user wrote to me. "I like the set-and-forget aspect of Carbonite. I'm am so tired of messing around with Time Machine, and it's half the price," said another.

    The release of Carbonite for Mac completes a long cycle for me. Back in 2005, one of the events that got Jeff and me to start Carbonite was my daughter's hard drive crashing. As a Mac user, she's been waiting a long time. I've been a Windows guy for years, but I now have both a Mac and Windows machine on my desk and I can understand why my kids have migrated to the Mac – it's a great machine.

    Dave
    CEO, Carbonite