Datto moves forward in a big way

Expanding statewide and worldwide, Datto offers data protection virtually everywhere

In 2007, Austin McChord decided to take some time off from earning his degree at Rochester Institute of Technology and return to his parents’ basement in Connecticut where he built Datto, a data-backup and business management software company. By 2015, McChord had landed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. As of 2018, Datto – which merged with Autotask after being acquired by Vista Equity Partners in 2017 – has 22 locations and 1,400 employees worldwide, including hundreds of workers at its Rochester office. With that kind of growth, the company has transformed from a startup firm into a globally renowned company that’s at the forefront of an important industry.

The secret to Datto’s success lies in the company’s primary offerings; the best in enterprise-level technology for small and midsize businesses provided through a unique community of managed service providers, or MSPs. MSPs enable small and midsize businesses to focus on their core business operations while the MSP takes care of their IT estate, securing critical systems and data. In a world where a well-run computer network translates into both dollars and customer loyalty, Datto has found a way to inspire that crucial and elusive aspect of business for its clients — trust.

Tech and talent in Rochester

When McChord decided to open a new location to house Datto’s customer support team, he thought of Rochester, a place he’d been fond of since his college years. Then he heard about a new program launched by New York State to help businesses grow – START-UP NY – and decided to apply. Datto became START-UP NY’s first participant in the Finger Lakes region and McChord soon realized that his new Rochester office could be even bigger than initially planned.

“The partnership between the university and the State has been incredible in allowing us to build out a really strong presence,” McChord said about Datto’s partnership with RIT and New York State, and its influence on his new site.

The Rochester office now serves as a base for both customer service and engineering, in addition to other aspects of the business. A longtime champion of a great quality of life for his employees, McChord underlines that one of the largest benefits of Datto’s START-UP NY affiliation is felt directly by his workforce: the program provides state income tax breaks for employees, which provides real help so that “employees win.”

McChord has been impressed by how many recent graduates are now looking to stay in Upstate New York. He’s found that, given the current competition for software engineers in major markets in the U.S. and across the globe, “being in Rochester is a huge advantage, versus if I need to get an engineer in Silicon Valley, it’s nearly impossible.”

Three years after opening the Rochester office, and eight years after graduating, McChord donated $50 million to RIT, the largest donation in the school’s history, to fund creative entrepreneurship initiatives and to support scholarships and research in cyber security and artificial intelligence.

Finding history and diversity in Rochester

“Rochester turns out to be a unique location in finding incredibly talented professionals, both in the fact that it has fantastic universities in RIT and the University of Rochester that are producing an enormous number of graduates, as well as a rich technical history with companies like Xerox and Kodak that were really built up here,” McChord explains.

McChord is proud to be among the companies helping to reinvigorate Rochester’s economy, saying that it’s “immensely rewarding” to him that Datto is helping to shape the future of the region. “The cost of living and cost of operating and doing business in Rochester is incredibly affordable. That makes a big difference.”

In 2014, the office opened in the historic Rochester Savings Bank at 40 Franklin Street, and has 12,000 square feet in the midst of the robust downtown business core. The region is also home to amenities outside of tech including famed sites such as the Susan B. Anthony House, George Eastman Museum and Memorial Art Gallery. When the company realized the demand for more employees called for more space, they invested in a space in the city’s Metropolitan Building that will house nearly 400 employees.

As a part of its company culture, Datto makes a point of fostering a diverse workforce geared toward women and minorities — traditionally underrepresented in tech — through events around women in innovation, as well as the RIT Women in Computing group. It posts all its jobs publicly on diversityjobs.com, and is involved with industry hackathons and meet-ups.

Part of Datto’s mission to be a great employer is also manifest in its volunteer partnerships, and programs geared toward employee well-being. The Datto Cares volunteer committee in Rochester is involved with the region’s Breast Cancer Coalition, the Special Olympics of New York, IACKids, and the Edison Tech P-Tech program. Employees receive perks like free Friday lunches, unlimited snacks and drinks, excellent paid time off, parental leave and education reimbursement benefits.

At its core, the relatively young Datto is continuing to focus on providing an excellent product while simultaneously expanding across the globe. As that presence grows, Datto’s customer services and support teams are providing great products alongside an excellent work environment.

Building for the future​

Over the past decade, Datto has expanded its top-notch data protection, business management and file backup and sync solutions for smaller businesses, as well as personal cloud storage. “We provide a complete end-to-end solution that allows companies to continue operating no matter what challenges their IT infrastructure faces,” McChord explained. Those offerings translate directly into help in good times and bad if a company’s network experiences anything from “an entire site loss,” to a disaster on the scale of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, during which Datto enabled clients to continue to function relatively seamlessly throughout the storm and provided evacuation shelters with networking appliances to stay in touch with family and friends while networks were down.

“It’s been a crazy ride and the company continues to grow at an absolutely incredible rate,” said McChord, whose drive is evident. It’s the kind of ambition that led him to insist to a college advisor that he could produce a hardware company from scratch. Like the minds behind many successful startups, he has deep loyalty to this company and is in it for the long haul: McChord turned down a buyout offer that would have provided him over $100 million, deciding instead to work through MSPs, freeing Datto up to focus on the technology that aims to be the best in cloud security – cheaper and faster than the competition.


For more information on the tech and electronics industry in New York State, contact Mark Reynolds at Tech@esd.ny.gov or (315) 793-2651.