Exodus Communications Inc

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EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS INC.

Exodus Communications Inc. was founded in 1994 by K.B. Chandrasekhar and B.V. Jagadeesh. Just six years later, with annual sales reaching $818 million, Exodus had secured the leading position among Internet hosting and network management firms. The company serves more than 4,500 customers and provides Internet Data Center (IDC) facilities in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region that allow clients to store their servers in secure locations. Along with server hosting, Exodus also offers equipment maintenance services and solutions for content distribution and caching, security, performance measuring and monitoring, managed Web hosting, and networking.

EARLY HISTORY

Fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning his own firm, Chandrasekhar formed network software design and development firm Fouress Inc. in 1992. Within two years, Fouress had become a profitable $1 million firm. Eyeing the growth potential of the Internet, Chandrasekhar teamed up with Jagadeesh to form Exodus, an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The firm began operations in 1994 with 15 employees. The following year, the Fouress business was merged into Exodus, and revenues reached $1.4 million.

By 1996, revenues had climbed to $3.1 million. That year, Exodus shifted its focus from operating as an ISP to offering IDC services. According to Exodus Marketing Vice President Mark Bonham in the 1997 issue of The Business Journal, the firm changed its focus because "customers began wanting their Internet equipment in a service center rather than in-house. If you are a company with a significant amount of business on the Internet, you don't want to rely on the skills of one or two in-house people to keep your network going." Also, demand had increased for IDC servicessuch as providing servers to run Internet-based businesses with network connections to those servers. Exodus opened its first IDC in Santa Clara, California, and soon followed with another in Jersey City, New Jersey.

To expand further, Exodus raised $10 million in capital in 1996 and secured additional financing in 1997 to open future IDCs in Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; Seattle, Washington; Japan; and the United Kingdom. During 1997, the company's Santa Clara facility served Web-based customers including Blizzard Entertainment, Hotmail Corp., Inktomi Corp., I/PRO, Sierra On-Line, and Tibco Inc. Revenues for the year continued to climb, reaching $12.4 million.

MAJOR ACQUISITIONS

In March of 1998, Ellen Hancock, a former executive for Apple Computer Inc., IBM, and National Semiconductor Corp., was hired to take the lead of Exodus. That same month, the firm went public. Under the leadership of Hancock, Exodus made its first acquisition in October, with the purchase of Arca Systems Inc., a leading Internet security solutions provider. As concern for security in network systems continued to rise in the late 1990s, Exodus was able to tap into Arca's expertise in security solutions.

Exodus's second major acquisition was the January 1999 purchase of American Information Systems (AIS), a Chicago, Illinois-based provider of co-location, Web hosting, and various other Internet management services. The deal smoothed the firm's entry into the Midwest market and gave it access to handful of large customers including ABN Amro, Ameritech, Crain's Chicago Business, First Chicago Bank, and Motorola. Exodus opened its Chicago IDC shortly after the purchase. The firm also completed the $100 million purchase of Cohesive Technology Solutions Inc. in April. Cohesive's networking, Web applications, and technology solutions became part of Exodus' managed service offerings. As part of the deal, Exodus secured the leading position in the Web hosting provider market. Additional acquisitions included Service Metrics Inc., a performance analysis provider; and Global Online Japan Co. Ltd., a Japanese-based IDC provider that gave Exodus quick access to the Asian market.

Exodus entered the new millennium intent on continuing its buying spree. The firm beefed up its security offerings once again when it bought the Professional Services Division of Network-1 Security Solutions Inc., a security and network design consultancy. With the purchase of testing services provider KeyLabs Inc., Exodus was able to offer its customers services that tested e-commerce sites for performance problems or other issues before they went live.

In January 2001, Exodus acquired GlobalCenter Inc., a subsidiary of Global Crossing Ltd., for nearly $6.5 billion. The purchase positioned Exodus as the leader in the Internet hosting services market with more than 4,500 customers, including the likes of AC Nielsen Corp., Adidas, Ernst & Young LLC, Google, Lycos Inc., USA Today, and Yahoo!. Upon completion of the deal, Exodus' strategic partners included Accenture, Cisco Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., EMC Corp., Inktomi Corp., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., StorageNetworks Inc., and Sun Microsystems Inc.

Although Exodus had grown significantly from its early days in 1994, the company was undermined by shifting industry demand in 2001. In April, the firm's chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and vice president of marketing left suddenly after substantial cash losses were reported. According to a May 2001 Forbes article, the firm's "simple brand of hosting is falling out of favor. In the Exodus model, customers rent floor space and Internet access, buy their own servers and manage them on their own. Today customers want 'managed hosting' with the Web hoster buying the iron and looking after it, selling computing power the way a utility sells electricity." In response to the changing demand, Exodus began its foray into managed services, an expensive shift that required restructuring among the firm. To cut costs, the company reduced its work force by 15 percent, but at the same time it also needed to hire and train additional engineers to oversee the move into managed services.

Another issue plaguing Exodus was the downturn of many dot-com companies. Exodus secured nearly 40 percent of sales from Web-based businesses, but the e-business firms that had experienced great success in the late 1990s were falling short of sales expectations and going out of business at a rapid pace. Exodus also faced increased competition as telecom and other tech firms joined the hosting services market, which was expected to continue growing into 2004. As Exodus battled these problems, management continued to focus on developing managed and professional services. The company also worked to expand its core business and emerge in new geographical areas in order to remain the leading U.S.-based hosting service provider.

FURTHER READING:

"Company Information." Santa Clara, CA: Exodus Communications Inc., 2001. Available from www.exodus.net.

Darrow, Barbara; and Lisa Picarille. "Hancock Becomes Exodus President." Computer Reseller News. March 23, 1998.

Elgin, Ben. "Making Her Own Luck." BusinessWeek Online. November 20, 2000. Available from www.businessweek.com.

"Exodus Acquires Cohesive for $100m, Revenues Keep Growing." Computergram International. April 22, 1999.

Holden, Daniel J. "Exodus Communications Inc." The Business Journal. October 27, 1997.

Koblentz, Evan. "Changes at Exodus Under Scrutiny." eWeek. May 7, 2001.

Lyons, Daniel. "Hostess With the Mostest Problems." Forbes. May 28, 2001.

Macaluso, Nora. "Exodus Down on Job Cuts." E-Commerce Times. May 9, 2001. Available from www.ecommercetimes.com.

Mulqueen, John T. "Exodus to Network Centers." CommunicationsWeek. April 12, 1997.

SEE ALSO: Internet Service Provider (ISP); Software Hosting

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