Austin, TX


Detroit, MI

Dean Drako


  • Dean Drako founded IC Manage in 2003, a company that he has helped expand to become the IC/SoC design and IP management technology leader.
  • Dean was also founder, President and CEO of Barracuda Networks from 2003 to 2012, where he built and expanded Barracuda from a spam and virus firewall provider to a broad line enterprise technology company with more than150,000 customers. Dean currently serves on Barracuda's Board of Directors.
  • Dean was also the founder of Boldfish, a leading provider of enterprise messaging solutions that was acquired by Siebel Systems in 2003.
  • Before Boldfish, Dean was founder, president and CEO of Design Acceleration Inc. (DAI), maker of superior design analysis and verification tools, which was acquired by Cadence Design Systems.
  • Dean has served as an entrepreneur in residence for SoftBank Venture Capital as well as vice president of product engineering at the 3DO Company. He holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • In 2007, Dean was named "Technology Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California" by Ernst & Young.
  • The first company I started when I was 16, I was still in high school when I started a software company writing bulletin board software for the Apple II. I started a company called Design Acceleration, which was a company that did software for chip design, which I sold to Cadence Design Systems. I started a company called Boldfish software, which did email marketing software that eventually was acquired by Siebel Systems. I started a company that was in the product information space called HubStorm which eventually became Velosel, which did well. And then simultaneously, I started Barracuda Networks and a company called IC Manage.
  • Barracuda Networks is the largest company I started, it's grown to over a thousand people over the last ten years that I was president and CEO of it. The idea for Barracuda Networks came to me one day. I was in the midst of the spam onslaught. I was getting spammed, all my friends were getting spammed, everybody was getting spammed and the email servers were kind of crashing because they were getting overloaded.
  • And the only thing that was really available was kind of complicated software solutions that you could buy or download or install and it was just kind of a mess and people were kind of frustrated. I woke up the next morning after kind of doing all this and it just kind of hit me that what people really wanted was a magic box that they could put in front of their email server and solve all of their problems and that it was very reasonable to build that magic box and instead of selling software, sell hardware to address the spam problem.
  • And so that, you know, the name, the subscription model, the architecture on how to build it just kind of came together, and you know basically I got a couple of guys and we launched and we started working on it.
  • When I start a company -- for the last five times and any in the future -- I'm the CEO. And that's because the ideas typically are instigated by me and I've got the product vision of what I want to do.
  • The first five or ten people you bring on board have to be very compatible. You don't want any odd men out in that early team because it'll hurt the efficiency. I dont' think there's any secret, it's just you know not compromising or making sure you really find people that are the right people.
  • I've learned a lot of things starting companies and selling them. One of the most important things is: focus on the customer. OK? And, in general, my rule of thumb is I ignore the competition. You're much better off ignoring the competition, pay attention to what the customer wants, make the customer happy, listen -- the customer will tell you what you need to do to beat the competition.
  • One of the things that I've been talking about a lot lately is test market -- test the market for your idea as quickly as possible. You want to basically figure out if people are going to be willing to pay, OK, the price you need them to pay in order to make your business viable and you need to test that as quickly as possible.
  • So many people actually want to go build it or go create it before they actually test it and that's a big mistake. And so I often use the "fake it before you make it" kind of idea. So you may be putting together some service, but if you can pretend you have the service and just have a bunch of monkeys behind the curtain doing it before you build it, you can actually test the market before you build it, which will save you a lot of pain and agony, because a lot of times people aren't willing to pay for it.
  • You know, Austin is the only other city in the United States that has any real tech kind of hub associated with it. You know you have Silicon Valley and you have Austin. There's a little bit, you know, in New York or Boston, but actually Austin, I think Austin actually has more going on right now in the tech area. So if you want to leave Silicon Valley and you still want to stay in tech, you know, Austin is kind of the obvious choice.