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WNPR’s small business coverage elevates understanding of the challenges faced by small business, educates policy-makers, and highlights the vital role of small business to the state’s economy.

Record Breaking Connecticut Start-Up Business Is Sold

Datto Inc.
Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto.

A Connecticut business that was started out of its founder’s basement just 10 years ago, has grown into the state’s only “unicorn” - a privately held business that’s worth more than a billion dollars. But now Norwalk-based Datto has been sold. 

Although it’s one of Connecticut’s most remarkable success stories, it’s still a long way from a household name.

Datto provides data backup and disaster protection for small businesses - a field that’s growing by leaps and bounds in this increasingly security conscious age.

“I started the company in 2007 right out of college,” said founder and CEO Austin McChord. “We’ve definitely made like every imaginable mistake in the book. But I think that the big thing that’s worked out for us, is that we’ve managed to build some really great product.”

Datto now employs 1,300 people, but McChord was looking for his next move. Should he sell the business to a larger player? Go public, by selling shares on the stock market?

In the end, his solution came in the shape of a private sale to Vista Equity Partners, for more than $1.5 billion.

“Private equity gets an unnecessarily bad name," said McChord. "Definitely everyone has some horror stories out there, but there are a few firms out there that are really, really smart, and actually do understand growth and understand what we’re going for here at Datto.”

Crucially for McChord, Vista already owned a company called Autotask, which builds tools used by IT service providers - a highly complementary business to his own.

He becomes CEO of the combined company which may now compete with really big names like Cisco, Dell, and Lenovo.

But what of his Nutmeg State roots? McChord said he's been very happy growing in his home state. In some ways, he believes, Connecticut might actually be an easier place to grow a tech business than the hothouse of somewhere like Silicon Valley. But because of his success, he's definitely been an outlier, as far as support or state services are concerned.

“We have workforces in a bunch of different places around the country," he told WNPR. "I think that it’s highly likely that our headquarters will stay here in Connecticut, but probably too soon to lay out any extreme certainty there.”

McChord said one thing is for sure - his future focus will be all about client security, in the age of the mega data breach.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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