Fifteen years ago, the Internet was a very different place. It operated on a very different scale, had different market leaders and it faced different technical challenges. What has not changed, however, is the need for the best – indeed ever higher - performance and resilience.
We founded Catchpoint in September 2008 (amid terrible economic conditions) with the desire to make the Internet better. Not exactly the greatest year to launch a startup. But here we are today celebrating our 15th anniversary and supporting some of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies to achieve Internet resilience.
We have much to look forward to, but in, this, our birthday month, please join us in looking back at some of our key milestones – and some of the world’s seismic shifts in technology - along the way.
#1: A startup within the best datacenter in the world
One of our smartest founding decisions was to put our datacenter in Switch SUPERNAP, arguably the best datacenter in the world. It was pretty cool to be a startup with just four co-founders and a vision hosting our data alongside the US government.
#2: Growing the largest observability network in the industry
From our first node in Las Vegas to the 2459 “eyes” we have around the world today, we are committed to continually expanding the depth and breadth of our observability footprint. Today, ours is the largest in the industry, allowing you to test applications where users actually are.
Our node network extends across the four corners of the world. One of the most significant moments in terms of geography was when we launched 100+ nodes in China. Ask our indefatigable Ops team. It was no easy feat to put this into practice (and it’s why other companies have been slow to do it). Our global customers tell us that our worldwide footprint is a big part of why they depend on us.
"Competitors of Catchpoint had decent coverage in the United States, but when it came to places like Europe and Asia, were really lacking. I was really impressed by the way in which Catchpoint had nodes in 8-10 different providers in places we’d consider remote."
Landon Orr, Network Engineer, Qualtrics
#3: Head in the clouds
2008 not only marked the start of Catchpoint, but the beginning of the cloud. Amazon’s S3 and Google’s App Engine were just getting to pick up steam, enabling companies to offload their tech backend and focus on innovation. By the end of the year, S3 was storing over 29B objects, picking up 7B in one quarter alone that year (compare this to the last public count with S3 storage holding over 100T).
A decade after founding, we expanded our network to monitor multiple regions of the six major cloud providers, making us then the largest regional cloud monitoring provider available. We continually add geographic breadth of vantage point within the cloud ecosystem, so that in a world in which cloud migrations, agile and continuous development are the standard, companies can rest assured that while their heads may be in the cloud… their control center retains the broadest visibility into this central part of the Internet Stack.
#4: Meeting the move to mobile
Catchpoint got started just one year after the iPhone debuted and the same year as the first Android. We, along with everyone else in business, were using Blackberries (Drit will admit he still misses the keyboard). Then Nokia CEO dismissed the iPhone as no more than a ‘cool phone.’ The market agreed. Only 11M iPhones were sold that year. No longer. In the third quarter of this year, Apple generated almost 40B in sales from the sale of iPhones worldwide.
In 2014, we expanded into 4G monitoring to help companies trying to keep up with their employee and consumers’ growing mobile performance needs by monitoring 24/7 the end-to-end performance of their mobile services. Our continually growing wireless node capabilities not only allow for that, but also the tracking of analytics for non-mobile web applications, APIs, and M2M technology.
#5: Matching the insane latency needs of the future
In Mehdi’s words, “Another thing close to my heart is edge compute – doing everything possible to reduce latency between the end user and the tech they use… Anything that makes the Internet faster and better is cool.”
From the most demanding and immersive real-time gaming requirements to the need for remote compute to power lightweight IoT devices, tomorrow’s generation of users will require a different level of speed. We added our first mobile edge and AWS Wavelength nodes in 2021. Our ultimate aim is to create a separate edge compute observability network to support future latency requirements.
The Internet of Things didn’t exist back in 2008. A smart home simply wouldn’t have been impossible, which was probably for the best since back in 2008, the average home speed was 5.1 mbps and 10% of home users were still using dial-up.
As part of our passion for enabling the Internet of the future, we’ve also been supporting the wider shift to IPv6. Our customers are often the driving force behind growing our vantage points. In this case, one of our biggest customers - with a worldwide user base of 3B+ - has helped drive the addition of IPv6 nodes to our network at a ferocious pace. Currently, a new one is added every two weeks or so to meet demand.
#6: Preventing impact from outages
One of our biggest use cases as an Internet Performance Monitoring company is to help others avoid Internet disruptions. In a 2023 commissioned study by Forrester, 37% of companies estimated they had lost between $100-499K and 39% lost $500-999K due to Internet disruptions.
We sometimes equate what we do to a fire brigade, able to detect not just the street where the fire broke out, but determine root cause right down to the building, apartment number, room, and appliance. Earlier this year, we published a 60 page study detailing what the outages of the last few years can teach us about preventing them in the future.
#7: Supporting the shift to hybrid work
When we launched endpoint monitoring, it was intended for work in the office. When the world shifted to all remote at the start of the pandemic, we had to build on and expand our product. Today, through our Workforce Experience solution, we support organizations with a hybrid workforce to confidently detect connectivity, performance and SaaS issues before they disrupt business.
#8: Trailblazing a new depth of visibility into BGP
We had already launched our Italian office focused on BGP monitoring when the now infamous Facebook outage occurred. While the source of the 7-hour incident wasn’t caused by BGP (or DNS), a routine maintenance job unintentionally took down all the connections in the Facebook’s backbone network and the BGP routes towards its DNS servers were withdrawn. Cue some $100M in losses (not to mention the longer-term impact).
We are committed to setting up the most diverse and distributed BGP route collecting infrastructure possible to avoid potentially costly BGP hijacks and leaks impacting our customers.
Further proof of this commitment came earlier this year when we patented our method and system wholly geared at improving BGP visibility and increasing routing efficiency.
#9: Orchestra: a temporal database in 2008
When we built our temporal No/SQL in-memory database, Orchestra, in 2008, it was one of the first in the industry. MongoDB existed, but it wasn’t yet temporal. Instead of providing just averages and counts, Orchestra – then and now – allows us to deliver real statistics and percentiles to an extremely granular level of precision. All our customers’ data is processed, stored, and analyzed in real time.
Orchestra has always set up our customers to slice and dice their metrics with unparalleled agility. The alternatives back in 2008 were far more cumbersome because this capability simply wasn’t built into their product. Another industry first was the ability to put custom visualizations with our data into the portal. Similarly, with Orchestra, we were the first among our peers to support Chrome Synthetic.
We are continually updating and improving upon the original. In 2022, we launched Orchestra 2.0 and in Scotte’s words, that has been almost as exciting as launching Orchestra in the first place.
#10: ‘Form follows function’
When we launched our new UI, Symphony, it was a huge innovation. We were thrilled by the long-term work of our engineering and product teams in achieving this milestone of form and function being entirely in sync.
In redesigning the Catchpoint portal from the ground up, we didn’t just put a fresh paint on top of an old UX. We overhauled the platform to provide our customers with a more user-friendly, efficient and effective means of getting the answers they need more quickly and simply than before.
#11: The first 100 customers
In the year 2013, we were delighted to hit our first 100 customers. Friends and family helped us make it through the first five years. After a few hairy moments (as we said, starting a company in 2008 was never going to be easy), we were thrilled to hit this significant milestone.
Signing Priceline was likewise another major moment for us. Until then, we had been focused on ad serving and tech platforms like CDNs, DNS hosting providers, and so on. Priceline was the first B2C brand we signed, and it showed that what we were offering provided serious value to almost any category of business.
Indeed, the last fifteen years have seen almost every business become a digital one. Consider that in 2008, Amazon had only $19B in revenue. Compare this to Amazon revenue for the twelve months ending June 30, 2023: $538B.
Global eCommerce customers have to be able to reach their sites and apps 24/7 at speed, and today we are proud to support some of the biggest eCommerce platforms in ensuing this, from Shopify to SAP to Salesforce.
To hear what our customers say about us, check out the latest reviews and ratings on TrustRadius.
#12: Four times Stevie Award winners
We were the first among our peers to launch 24/7 support. We’re very proud of our excellent Customer Success team. We received our first Stevie Award in 2018, which as the world’s top honor for customer service and contact centers was a standout milestone. We’ve been delighted to receive another three since.
#13: The longest-running SRE Report
Last year marked our fifth annual SRE Report, the first of its kind and the longest running in the industry. Each year, we take pride in conducting an in-depth survey with reliability practitioners around the world and delving deeper into the findings with a range of genuine practitioners whose insights come from being deeply immersed in the field. In 2023’s report, these included Adrian Cockcroft and Steve McGhee.
Look out for the 2024 SRE Report, coming soon.
#14: Gartner recognition across multiple business use cases
We’ve been fortunate to get some great recognition from industry analysts over the last decade and a half – from Forrester to IDC to GigaOM. Most recently, we were honored to be highlighted six times across multiple use cases in the latest set of Hype Cycle reports from Gartner. These are aimed at providing companies with insight into how technologies and applications are relevant to solving real business problems.
In the words of our CMO Gerardo Dada, “the inclusion of Catchpoint in six different reports is a sign of the quick adoption of Internet Performance Monitoring as an emerging technology that is becoming more essential for more use cases every day.”
#15: “It’s the worst idea ever”
One of the first investors we went to for support back in 2008 told us, “It’s the worst idea ever. Drop it and do ad serving instead.” We can only say we hope he’s been following us since.
After looking back, we look forward to the future.
Reviewing the past 15 years is fun, and in some ways surprising. It makes us realize how quickly the world is changing and how far we have come. It also reminds us of the importance of adapting and innovating to continually stay one step ahead of the problems our customers will face as technology - and the world - further evolves.
Here’s to the next fifteen years and all that they may herald for us and the wider tech revolution.