Wiretap: Barracuda Networks founder’s next act

It’s been a busy year for Dean Drako. The co-founder and longtime CEO of Campbell-based Barracuda Networks finally saw the company go public in November; its stock has been on a tear ever since, and although Drako left Barracuda 18 months ago, his stake is worth north of $320 million.

Not that Drako’s been sitting around counting his lucre: Since decamping to Austin, he’s been working on his fifth startup, a cloud-based video security company called Eagle Eye Networks. And on Tuesday, he officially took it out of stealth mode. 

“We’re really simplifying the video business: You plug it in, you turn it on,” Drako, 48, told me last week.

The company lets users hook their existing surveillance cameras into the cloud, whence the data can be managed and stored; the system will even send a smartphone alert if something funny’s going on back at the ranch. Call it a very different take on security than Barracuda’s antivirus and anti-spam products.

But Drako, who holds a master’s in electrical engineering from Cal, doesn’t repeat the same trick twice. Before birthing Barracuda in 2003, he founded companies that focused on semiconductor analysis and enterprise messaging. (Yeah, I don’t see the link between those two things either.) For that matter, Drako founded another company, IC Manage, the same year he launched Barracuda, and he continues to run it on the side. Does the guy ever sleep?

In classic entrepreneur fashion, Drako stumbled onto his latest idea while trying to do something else. As his companies started getting larger, he found himself with employees spread across multiple countries. “I wanted someone there from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to answer any customer questions, but it was hard to enforce that level of discipline across the ocean,” he said. “I needed to keep an eye on things.”  

OK, I’ll say it: That seems a little evil. (Then again, doesn’t “Dean Drako of Barracuda Networks” sound like the villain in a James Bond movie?) But Drako says he soon realized nobody made the kind of video systems he was looking for — ones that were secure, provided remote access and were easily searchable. “People buy these cheap systems, and they break pretty quickly,” he said. “The video requires software to be installed on their PCs, and the quality’s poor because the compression is second-rate. Our mission is to fix all that with a web-based user interface and video compressed at a full 15 to 30 frames per second.”

Still, even with the ability to monitor folks remotely, Drako admitted with a laugh that he spends most of his time on planes. He’s still on Barracuda’s board, and Eagle Eye has a development center in Los Altos, so it’s not like he’s ditched the valley altogether. “I have another four or five ideas I’d like to pursue,” he added. “But I have to hold myself back.”



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