Reston-based ScienceLogic Celebrates 20 Year Anniversary: Interview with CEO Dave Link

ScienceLogic's 20th anniversary celebration.

Reston-based ScienceLogic recently celebrated its 20th anniversary at an event for employees, customers, and partners. At the event, co-founders Dave Link and Richard Chart shared some of their favorite memories, looking back at two decades of ScienceLogic’s success as a pioneering software and services provider.

Back in 2003, Link and Chart, along with third co-founder, Christopher Cordray, launched ScienceLogic in Link’s Falls Church garage with an innovative multi-tenancy model – unique in its ability to let customers get complete IT visibility and manage their infrastructure with a single service provider.

Within five years, ScienceLogic was posting nearly $6 million in annual revenue and had made Inc. Magazine’s list of Top 100 IT Services Companies and its list of America’s 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies. A snowball effect of brand visibility and venture capital investment further propelled the company’s growth, including more than $15 million in Series A funding from New Enterprise Associates in 2010; another $15 million in 2012 from Intel Capital; and $43 million in Goldman Sachs-led Series D funding in 2015. ScienceLogic also acquired Restorepoint, Zebrium and AppFirst, as subsidiaries. The company has expanded globally to today’s network of seven major corporate locations spread across four continents with a practice of being a “Follow the Sun Organization” for its customers.

Dave Link, CEO, ScienceLogic, sat down with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to talk about the founding of the company, its growth, and why Fairfax County, specifically Reston Town Center, is the perfect place for ScienceLogic.

Before founding ScienceLogic, Link was senior vice president at Interliant, Inc., where he solidified the company’s presence in the ASP/MSP market. Prior, he held senior roles at IBM, leading development of Internet commerce products.

Dave Link, CEO of ScienceLogic (FCEDA photo)

Here’s an abridged version of FCEDA’s interview with Dave Link:

FCEDA: Tell us about ScienceLogic.

Dave Link: This is a story of a company that started in a garage and basements here in the Mid-Atlantic region. The light bulb idea that germinated our mission was a core belief that the industry that was serving IT professionals was badly broken and that there was a much better way to solve this complex problem. We knew what the better way was from having worked with the products serving the industry and solving problems within IT operations for 40+ years collectively between the founders.

We had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a very bold vision of what we wanted to accomplish, even though we were competing with multi-billion-dollar international software companies that had very large global customer bases. But we thought we could turn the industry upside down and start something very different that was materially better, so we started ScienceLogic.

We have become an AI company that receives billions and trillions of pieces of information daily to figure out the most seminal issues that IT needs to look at to deliver great service quality. Our platform is focused on making life better for IT professionals who run large global networks, global clouds, IT applications, and systems of record.

The company is centrally focused on real time management of critical infrastructure for telecommunications companies, for Global 2000 companies, and for the public sector — not just in the United States, but other countries across the globe. We aim to make running and operating these systems better, faster, and smarter, so that many user personas from VPs down to the network operations center’s individual operators have a great experience. These days, many have a consumer mentality where everything works all the time, no matter what. But there’s a lot that needs to happen behind the scenes in IT operations to achieve a great outcome like that for an efficient user experience. And that’s the guts of the business that we’re in — making sure that the IT professionals have the right tools and visibility into how all those systems are operating in real time and providing proactive insights to automatically fix things before failures is our end goal.

FCEDA: Where did you originally start the business?

Dave Link: We started in my garage in Falls Church because we were self-funding the business for the first seven years, right after the crash. I didn’t take a salary for the first two years and some of my co-founders didn’t take a salary. My wife said: “Hey, listen, you’ve got two years to figure out if this going to work.” It was a really great motivation. “If you can’t get this to work in two years, go get another job.” So, I knew the deadline. I had to figure out how to get this business humming, build the platform, start selling it, apply for all our patents, and start revenue generation to pay salaries and other bills. We found a way to get the company to break-even within that timeframe. It was quite amazing for software companies, because usually there’s a lot of investment ahead of getting to a revenue-producing start-up.

We kind of broke the mold and grew very quickly from that point forward. We landed on the Inc 500 list a couple times and the Deloitte Fast 500 for almost a decade. We kept growing in the region as we continued building our customer base. While the federal government wasn’t initially a large focus, it has been an honor to grow our customer base to include public sector, defense, and civilian agencies as it’s such a vibrant part of the economy here in the Mid Atlantic.

FCEDA: Why did you choose to locate your headquarters in Reston Town Center?

Dave Link: We’ve generally been in Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (VA-11) district for most of our company existence, and he’s been a great proponent of technology service companies and technology companies across the country and in Northern Virginia.

But the simplest reason is I lived nearby. We knew that Reston was really the epicenter for technology companies in the region. If we wanted to be in close proximity to all the biggest companies that were having clever, breakthrough ideas and rapidly innovating in technology, then we were going to be here. There is also the advantage of an incredible ecosystem of shops and restaurants as well as the new Metro station, which is spectacular from a public infrastructure perspective. We think Reston Town Center has become defined as a tech hub.

Interestingly, to validate this would be popular with our team, we did a scatter graph of every single employee in the Mid-Atlantic with their zip codes and ended up finding that Reston was the central most location. We have many young families in the Ashburn area and further west. We have some of the younger team members in Arlington and in the City of Alexandria, plus the suburbs of Maryland. Being here is central for our aggregate employee base across the region.

FCEDA: In addition, expanding it a little bit, why is it great to be in Fairfax County overall?

Dave Link: We love Fairfax County. There are great universities and university support, which has been a catalyst for our intern program. We recruit at the local universities during their college career days and throughout the calendar year which has offered a burgeoning new talent pool.

We also have perhaps the highest number of computer science professionals outside of Silicon Valley here. A good portion of our staff is technical in nature, and this region has an incredibly diverse talent pool. The intellectual capacity of the region is high, allowing bright minds to think through, and partner with our customers to help them achieve stronger business outcomes.

The proximity to Washington Dulles International Airport offers easy options to get to customers in addition to public transportation that has gotten significantly better throughout the course of the company’s history.

FCEDA: In terms of careers, how many employees do you have and are you how many are projecting to hire in the near term?

Dave Link: We have nearly 600 direct employees, as well as partners across the globe. Our compound annual growth rate has been about 27 percent a year for the last eight years. We’re constantly recruiting new team members and looking to increase headcount 10+ percent this year.

Click here to find out about careers at ScienceLogic.

FCEDA: Tell us about your impressions of your 20th anniversary celebration.

Dave Link: It was a memorable event. The best part of it, of course, was seeing people, partners, and old colleagues we hadn’t connected with for a while. I gave a live stream earlier in the day to our ScienceLogicians across the globe, and characterized just how unusual it is for a company to achieve 20 years. Statistically, it’s beyond improbable. It makes you really stop and think all the breakpoints and decisions we made in retrospect drove long term impact.

Companies need to keep reinventing themselves and pivoting every 3 to 7 years to continue rapid growth. Change is needed to surpass $5 million, then $15 million, $25 million, and so on. I try to set forth three to five-year plans that include questions such as, how do we want to be different at the end point of that plan cycle? What do we have to start doing now, foundationally, to be able to achieve those goals? The executive team builds these goals out, focusing on the differentiators and shares and tracks them with the company.

Some of the reinvention is necessary because technology changes so fast you cannot stand still solving the same problem. The problems that we’re solving today are not the problems we solved 20 years ago. Products and companies have to evolve. If you’re not thinking about that proactively then you’re going to get caught in a situation where the company’s growth will flatline for several years until you either reinvent yourself, reincarnate the product, or think through how you can leapfrog to where the market has moved to and beyond.

FCEDA: What sets your company apart from your direct competitors?

Dave Link: Well, I have to say, and this sounds cliche, but I think it’s our people. And I say that genuinely, because I talk to our customers who work with competitive products as well, and they tell me that our support, product, and service teams are simply better than the rest. When we call, we give a competent response and our sales team cares about delivering real value to customers.  That is one of the core reasons customers keep coming back and expanding.

The other thing that I think makes it special is we’ve been at this a long time. We’re not trying to solve a thousand different product problems. We’re focused on one. It’s a very complex problem. It’s a huge total addressable market – a $36 billion market that we compete in. There’s a lot of money spent solving this problem every year. Many of our competitors have very diverse product portfolios beyond ITOps/AIOps management, so this makes us unique.

FCEDA: When you were talking about the evolution of your company and the changes in technology, and now we have AI and quantum and such. What’s next for your company?

Dave Link: It’s exhilarating to see how fast things are moving forward in how our technology pours through trillions of pieces of information to glean a few often-critical actionable insights. We’re in the incredible hype cycle of generative AI and large language models. I think the biggest hype cycle in my technology journey was certainly the dial-up network leading to the internet, which is where I started my early career. The second significant generational change was the smartphone, which brought the power of that connectivity to our fingertips as never before.

ChatGPT, the third wave of artificial intelligence, has become obvious to the layperson this year in terms of how powerful it is and what it could do. We have never seen this before. The younger generation is seeing the incredible power in how one search query can essentially write an entire, thorough, candidly, confidence inspiring summary report. In the past, what would you get from a Google search result? Five links to articles, but not necessarily a summarized, curated response. That’s very different.

We have been using large language models for the last three years in parts of our product to rethink how we interact with our end-user. We focused on how to become a copilot that enables a level-one engineer who takes a support problem and becomes as proficient as a level-three technician. That’s an amazing opportunity for our industry, and for our product to distill all this information and bring it to less experienced personnel to complete very experienced tasks. That’s a new world. One that doesn’t exist today. We’re creating a better tomorrow where level-three teams can develop better innovation rather than working on less challenging tasks.

I think we have a great opportunity ahead to leapfrog with our new user interface, interacting with this immense machine data that we collect. Today, we talk to all the devices on the network, figure out how they’re behaving, and understand the trends. We then make recommendations. In some cases, we make automations to fix them. We call that Autonomic IT. In the future, we’ll make the data available for level-one engineers to do very sophisticated automations that level-three engineers used to do. This is a great moment in time to leverage these technologies.

Our customer data will not be in public ChatGPT models, but in localized language models that will use data that’s curated and more specific and pertinent to the domain that you’re working on. It’s an exciting time for the next generation and our new innovation wave at ScienceLogic.

Click here to find out more about ScienceLogic.