In their own words: Cats reflect on 20 years of BlueCat

BlueCat turned 20, and to celebrate the milestone, we asked Cats to look back on where we’ve been and share what they love about working here.

BlueCat has turned 20! To celebrate the milestone, we spoke to some Cats—both new and seasoned—about what they think makes BlueCat, well, BlueCat.

But first, some history

The early 2000s were a very different time for technology. Clouds were just fluffy things in the sky. No one thought we would ever need more than a couple billion IP addresses. Enterprises were just scratching the surface of the IT complexity they deal with today.

Michael and Richard Hyatt were running software company Dyadem when they encountered a problem: They needed a DNS server. Unsatisfied with their options for purchasing said server, they created an alternative. From there, in 2001, BlueCat Networks was founded.

John Tsirigotis, our director of IT and one of the company’s earliest employees, recalls the company’s first sale to a local payroll giant. They believed so strongly in BlueCat’s value proposition that they put their money down before the Hyatt brothers even had hardware to deliver.

Our journey into the business of DNS servers had begun.

BlueCat today: a snapshot

Today, BlueCat provides an integrated platform that helps enterprises around the world manage their DNS, DHCP, and IP address management (together known as DDI) through both on-premises and cloud solutions.

Over 400 Cats worldwide serve nearly 1,000 mid- to globally-sized enterprises. Our customers range from the world’s biggest financial institutions, technology companies, and manufacturers to regional healthcare facilities, government agencies, and educational institutions. We partner with leading technology organizations, including Cisco, CrowdStrike, and HashiCorp. We’ve expanded into new areas of innovation, too, helping our customers optimize cloud adoption, automate, and strengthen their security posture.

BlueCat has gone through some big changes over the years. We’ve had three CEO tenures (hello, Michael, Michael, and Steve!). We established an investment partnership and majority ownership with Madison Dearborn Partners. We’ve undertaken numerous product innovations and launches. And we moved to a new downtown Toronto office.

But most importantly, our customers are ridiculously happy. No, really. In the fourth quarter of 2021, we had an industry-leading Net Promoter Score above 77.

Cats gather at BlueCat's Toronto office to celebrate 20 years of BlueCat
Cats gather at BlueCat’s Toronto office to celebrate 20 years of BlueCat

How we grew while staying true to our roots

Our culture has had to evolve with the company, all the while staying true to the roots that make it quintessentially BlueCat.

“The biggest challenge that we’ve had to overcome is the pace at which technology changes,” reflects Petrisa Pecnik, SVP of Customer Experience. “Our customers expect us to be a step ahead of them. And when they’re running 100 miles an hour, you need to be running 120 miles an hour.”

Alex Moshiri, Regional Vice President of West Enterprise Sales, recalls that, when he joined the company, it was very much in startup mode.

“But then, we started closing these massive logos and the pieces just started to fall together,” he says.

Over the course of Moshiri’s tenure, we have formalized our culture code and created career development paths for employees. We have also launched a formal learning and development program and implemented robust support for our people’s well-being.

“Being able to witness that growth is really exciting,” Moshiri adds.

However, Financial Operations Manager Phil Velocci, who joined BlueCat when there were just 160 people, says we haven’t lost our sense of a tight-knit community.

“The culture and everything is exactly the same from the first day I started,” he says. “So, even though we’ve grown about three times what we were, I feel like it’s the exact same company. Everyone that comes in, they all have the same kind of mindset. We’re all like a family here.”

Recruiter Jakov Musafija also reflects on seeing the people he helped hire move their way up through the organization as it has grown.

“One of the nice things is being able to see people’s positions change and their careers progress, especially from a recruitment standpoint,” he says.

In 2020 and 2021, there were 85 internal promotions at BlueCat.

BlueCat’s unique culture

When reflecting on our culture, Stephen Devito, BlueCat’s CEO, notes that “There’s something about this place that’s different—the way that people jump in and work with each other.”

Chief People Officer Cheryl Kerrigan says this is typically one of the first things that people notice about BlueCat: just how supportive everyone is.

And while COVID-19 has certainly affected how we all live our lives, it hasn’t affected how Cats treat each other. Senior Engineering Manager Ellie Safadel joined the company just two months before the pandemic began. She recalls how BlueCat engaged its employees to still feel included even when everyone dispersed to remote work when the pandemic first set in.

“Everyone had a lot of uncertainty in terms of our professional lives, our personal lives. BlueCat was really supportive of its people during that time. And from there on, we went on to really embrace that remote working culture,” she says.

Paul Brown, Principal Solution Architect, explains why he thinks BlueCat fosters this sense of community. “There’s a lot of talent within BlueCat and a lot of people with high motivation who are trying to make a difference,” he says.

Investment in our people is the reason our culture continues to thrive. BlueCat sits on the Great Place to Work list of the 50 Best Workplaces in Canada with 100-999 employees. In 2021, it was also named as a Best Workplace in Technology, Best Workplace for Women, and Best Workplace for Inclusion and for Mental Wellness.

Cats eat and drink champagne in the kitchen at BlueCat's Toronto office to celebrate 20 years of BlueCat
Cats eat and drink champagne at BlueCat’s Toronto office to celebrate 20 years of BlueCat

Why we continue to do what we do

While the average person probably couldn’t tell you what DNS stands for (hint: the answer is Domain Name System), it’s integral to all of the world’s most important technology systems. Think: everything from medical devices, to global banking networks, to the internet itself.

“We are that mission-critical software,” Devito explains. “Companies can’t operate if their DNS goes down, but we’ve got an entire company that’s passionate about keeping large enterprises up and running 24/7.”

But it doesn’t end there. “BlueCat has such an amazing opportunity to do way more for our customers, and it’s up to us to drive that,” says Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Wertkin.

While the future is uncertain, we know that technology will only continue to become more critical and complex.

We also know that it’s about more than making packets flow. It’s about connecting people. Learning things. Making the world better for everyone. And after 20 years, we’re still as passionate as ever about enabling all of it.

“It’s important for all of us to feel part of that 20-year anniversary,” says Moshiri. “All of us at BlueCat, in different departments, in different capacities, have helped shape this organization. When I moved from a 5,000-person organization to a 500-person organization, this is what I was hoping for: the ability to make an impact you can feel. And I really hope that everyone at BlueCat feels that they can make an impact. This is the place to do it.”

Cheers to 20 years, Cats! Thank you for helping us get here.

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