1 napkin and 22 lines of code, or how NS1 rewrote the rules of internet infrastructure

Tech News

It’s the most important primary layer in the modern tech stack for internet software, and its most intriguing evolution was written on a napkin in a New York City bar and translated to just shy of two dozen lines of Python code.

Such is the nature of tech innovation today, and such was the birth of NS1. Kris Beevers, along with Jonathan Sullivan and Alex Vayl, wanted to rebuild the core addressing system of the internet — the Domain Name System, or DNS — and transform it from a cost center into a critical tool for software reliability and cost savings. It was a smart idea back in 2012 and gained much steam a few years later when a fortuitous outage at a competitor left hundreds of websites stranded.

It’s the most important primary layer in the modern tech stack for internet software, and its most intriguing evolution was written on a napkin in a New York City bar and translated to just shy of two dozen lines of Python code.

NS1 may make the networks of the internet more reliable. But the story of the company is also built on the back of a durable social network of engineers who met at a little-known NYC startup named Voxel. That startup would go on to become, unintentionally, an incubator for several massive enterprise companies and exits.

Chance encounters, bold engineering and lucky breaks: It’s the quintessential startup tale, and it’s changing the face of software delivery.

“You learn a lot because you’re doing way more than you rightfully should.”

NS1’s story begins back at the turn of the millennium, when Beevers was an undergrad at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in upstate New York and found himself employed at a small file-sharing startup called Aimster with some friends from RPI. Aimster was his first taste of life at an internet startup in the heady days of the dot-com boom and bust, and also where he met an enterprising young engineer by the name of Raj Dutt, who would become a key relationship over the next two decades.

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