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Five thousand (paying) teams on Tailscale

4 minsMarch 05 2024
Avery Pennarun
Avery Pennarun
Tailscale graphic with the text "5000 customers"

When we started Tailscale back in 2019, the only thing we were sure about was we wanted to break the cycle of “billion user” software. Almost no software needs to scale to a billion users. Even at companies whose products serve a billion users, most things they do are much smaller. We set out to support the “long tail” of non-scalable projects that get neglected, at every company of every size.

Today, we’re celebrating a big milestone. Just a bit before Tailscale’s fifth birthday, we've passed 5000 paying customers.*

5k+ customers, 10m+ devices connected, 100k+ monthly active users

I know what you’re thinking: wow, that’s 1000 customers per year!

Well, not exactly. More than half of those were added in the last 12 months.

Back in our first year, we had only a couple of customers. One was Versabank, a Canadian bank who trusted us to build the first enterprise Tailscale deployment. Then, at the end of 2019, we raised seed funding and publicly launched our closed beta and waitlist. By waitlist, I mean Avery processed your emails and manually added you to our json config database. That first announcement drew a lot more excitement than we expected. I answered hundreds of emails that night. My fingers got sore. I made macros.

By early 2020, some of those excited people had brought Tailscale to work, where they were starting to send new emails asking how to pay us, which was a problem because we hadn’t built a payment system, because we had only two customers and they paid annually by invoice. Anyway, we integrated Stripe and officially launched what we now call our “bottom-up” self-service model.**

In those first few months of 2020, a few dozen customers started paying us. By the end of the year, it was a bit over 100. Those companies had a wide range of sizes, with employee counts ranging from two to thousands.

One company that found us during 2020 is one we still don’t have permission to name in public. They’re a big industrial company that does business in countries with flakey Internet connectivity. Their CIO heard about us online, tried Tailscale, and found that our connectivity worked in all those countries, even where their three existing VPNs did not. He wanted to roll out Tailscale to the whole company and unwind years of legacy workarounds.

Just one problem: we were only a year old, we had never scaled Tailscale to tens of thousands of people, and he knew it. But luckily, somehow, this CIO was an early adopter. He said he expected the rollout to be a multi-year process. He walked us through their big-company purchasing systems. We’d start with 100 seats, then 1000, then 10,000, and then, you know, we’d see where things go.

Well, things went. He kept his word, and by 2022 that rollout had scaled all the way up. The features we built for our first customers, small and large and very large, turned out to be valuable to a lot more people too.

In 2023 all those features culminated in Tailscale Enterprise, a collection of features designed specifically for large, complex, or high-compliance environments.

Today in 2024, if you visit our Customers page, you’ll see logos and case studies with names like Instacart, Airbus, Bamboo Health, Bolt, Cribl, Shiguredo, Patreon, Chainalysis, and Duolingo.*** Companies that span everything from SaaS to healthcare to finance, IoT, and manufacturing.

Those big names don’t mean we forgot where we came from. We're here to solve network problems for everyone, including individuals, families, and small companies. Tailscale is and remains free for personal use, and hundreds of thousands of monthly active users use it that way. In case you missed it now you can have up to three people for free and invite people from outside your domain.

As the meme people say: long tail is long.

Thanks for being with us as we try to fix the Internet, once and for all, for everybody. We’re so happy you’re here. There’s a lot more to come.

CEO @ Tailscale


*: Does not include individuals on the Personal Pro plan, who mostly pay us just for fun.

**: Luckily, nobody had yet told us that no company can deploy network infrastructure bottom-up, one person at a time. I guess it turns out they can!

***: And about 4980 more that are not on that page because they did not give us logo permission.

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