FireHost lands $10M investment

09/23/2011
The Richardson Web-hosting company hiring engineers for move into Europe
 
By Jeff Bounds | Staff Writer, Dallas Business Journal
 
A North Texas supplier of secure Web-hosting services has landed a $10 million investment, which it will use to partly to expand into Europe.
 
Arkansas investment shop Shephens Group LLC led the funding in FireHost Inc., whose CEO, Chris Drake, recently hired a full-time recruiter to help build out the company's 45-person staff. 
 
"If we can find 20 qualified people, we'll hire them," said Drake. He is looking for engineers versed in Linux and Windows operating systems, as well as sales engineers.
 
Drake also wants staffers willing to travel abroad because the company is going places - literally. By the end of 2012, FireHost plans to establish a 1,000-square-foot data center in London. (It co-locates out of other companies' data centers, rather than building its own.)
 
FireHost will ship four employees to London to set up the company's presence and build from there, Drake said. FireHost also has its eye on Asia, Australia and the Middle East. By the end of next year, it will choose one of those regions for another data center and will eventually go into all three.
 
"We just haven't decided which order," Drake said. Beyond geographic expansion, Drake will also use the new infusion for marketing and advertising.
 
And Stephens Group says it will be there to provide capital should needs or opportunities arise.
 
"We have the ability to scale with (FireHost) from a capital perspective," said Aaron Clark, vice president at Stephens.
 
Although there are a number of Web-hosting companies operating, FireHost prides itself on taking on clients who are especially security conscious.
 
For instance, it gained a measure of notoriety in 2009 when it agreed to host a website of prominent one-time hacker Kevin Mitnick. Today, in addition to protecting Mitnick's site from the forces of evil in cyberspace, FireHost hosts Web content for the likes of Johnson & Johnson, Duke University and Sotheby's. It also maintains and protects the online presences of various credit-card companies, along with health-care data that has to meet regulatory standards of the U.S. or foreign governments.
 
"We host websites for organizations that don't want to get their websites or apps hacked," Drake said.
 
Drake founded FireHost in 2006, but said the company did not launch until 2009.
 
Including the round that the Stephens Group led, the company has raised a total of $12 million.
 
jbounds@bizjournals | 214-706-7122 
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