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The next milestone for Tailscale

November 10 2020
Avery Pennarun
Avery Pennarun

Big news today! We’ve raised US$12 million in Series A funding led by Accel, with participation from Heavybit and Uncork Capital. The new funding follows the seed round we announced just a few months ago in April, and will allow us to build out our team and product at a faster pace, given the level of demand accompanying the world’s shift to remote work.

Glowing circles on a red background

How we got here

I wanted to share a bit on how we got here. During my time at Google, I did what Google does best: building internet-scale products that could scale to serve billions of people across the globe. Our apps were powered by robust infrastructure — the best in the world — and large teams to manage it all. After a few years at the company, I switched roles and advised a range of Alphabet projects (some well known, others not so much) and became intimately familiar with what it took to build the “first” iteration of something using that same infrastructure. When building a “first,” you may be serving just a few dozen people and so your needs are very different. The power and complexity of serving billions becomes a hindrance instead of an advantage.

We built Tailscale for individuals or companies that need a BeyondCorp-style VPN without massive enterprise complexity. Solving tough security, privacy and compliance requirements is fast and easy — whether it’s adding multi-factor authentication to legacy apps, connecting devices and servers between multiple offices, data centers, and remote locations or sshing into your servers without opening firewall ports.

On the one hand, people try out Tailscale for personal use, like setting up a dogcam with Raspberry Pi. They may initially love us because unlike an off-the-shelf dogcam, with Tailscale you don’t need a monthly subscription, or to trust a third-party service to store your video, or risk exposing a camera inside your home to the public internet. Every connection on Tailscale is encrypted and entirely private to your network. It’s your own private Internet.

Many of the same people using our product on their own are also IT, Security or Engineering leaders at companies who see an opportunity to bring our product into work. As a result, we’ve had many businesses roll out Tailscale after an individual used it at home. While this commonly happens with applications like Slack and Dropbox, it’s not so common with network infrastructure. Because Tailscale is easy to implement and use (like a consumer application), people can feel empowered to test it out first.

Tailscale on a macOS laptop and an Android phone, showing several shared devices on the screen.

Tailscale and the shift to remote work

Tailscale was always meant to help businesses deal with their increasingly distributed teams. It’s one of the reasons we built the product. Even though as a company we’ve been fully remote since day one (with three co-founders in different cities), we never expected the transition to remote work would happen so fast and on such a large scale. With the pandemic, suddenly 42% of the US labor force was in the same boat and working remotely.

Companies needed quick solutions and many were investing heavily in their existing VPNs, leading to complex, expensive and labor intensive setups. Distributed teams require distributed networks, not just hub-and-spoke, and traditional VPNs aren’t set up for that.

We officially unveiled our company and product to the world in April, right as people were adjusting to a new reality and way of working. Within a month of launching, we were welcoming over 10,000 nodes a month to our platform — a number that’s growing faster each month.

At Tailscale, our company and product would be nowhere without our passionate community. If you’ve enjoyed Tailscale or are intrigued by what we are building, we’re hiring. You can also find us on Twitter or discourse. If you haven’t tried us out yet, download our product today and see how easy it is to connect your devices to each other in five minutes. This is just the beginning for us, and we’ll keep you updated on what’s next.

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