NAPA -- The brains behind two fast-growing Napa-founded Internet companies is back with a third -- Attracta -- and the 2-year-old company now is looking to bring 120 hires to Napa Valley next year to handle a customer base that is projected to double.
[caption id="attachment_66092" align="alignright" width="324"] Ken Leonard, David Koston, Troy McCasland[/caption]
Started in late 2009, Attracta (707-320-2050, attracta.com) develops software that helps owners of nearly 3 million websites more easily get found among the billions of pages indexed by major search services, often called search engine optimization, or SEO. The company's customer base is growing so rapidly -- by 5,000 accounts a day, reaching 2.7 million now from 2 million in May and 1 million in late 2011 -- through distribution agreements with website hosting companies and providers of software that website developers use to manage sites, according to Ken Leonard, Attracta chief executive officer and co-founder.
For example, Attracta last year reached an agreement with cPanel, whose software for hosting companies puts website management functions, such as domain-name mapping and ordering secure website service, on one control panel view for hosting subscribers.
"We think we have only gotten about 10 percent of the market so far, and we plan to get close to 100 percent in the next two years," Mr. Leonard said. Current distributors of the software have a combined customer base of 12 million, and Attracta plans to reach 6 million accounts next year.
Attracta uses the "freemium" revenue model. Its core, free service automates the process of indexing a website, submitting the index files to major search providers such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing, so search-engine listings reflect the latest site changes. Attracta users can add premium services such as one-click installations of website tools such as Google apps for chat, creation of business pages on Google Maps or customer-rating service Yelp, or TurboTraffic to view live effects of search optimization changes.
Monthly costs for the premium services range from $5 for automated business listings to $260 for professionally managed SEO services.
Mr. Leonard is a serial Internet entrepreneur. He started early website hosting company TABNet in Napa in late 1995 and grew it to 100 employees before it was sold to NTT/Verio in mid 1998 for $49.5 million. In 2002, again in Napa, he started ScanAlert, which grew to 120 employees by the time McAfee purchased it in 2008 for $51 million then two years later relocated operations to Texas.
In late 2009, Mr. Leonard teamed with three executives of his previous startups to form Attracta, now located in the some of the same offices ScanAlert once occupied at 860 Napa Valley Corporate Way in south Napa. Recently, the 29-employee company expanded from 4,400 square feet of offices to 13,000 square feet and secured options for three times as much space expected to be needed in the next 12 months.
Because the difficulty in hiring so many employees in sales, customer service and computer programming so quickly in Napa, Attracta has leased an 8,000-square-foot office in Rancho Cordova and plans to hire 30 to 40 there next year.
The three other partners in Attracta are Troy McCasland, vice president of business development, Brett Oliphant, vice president of product development, and recent addition David Koston, chief technical officer. Mr. Koston had been vice president of operations for cPanel before going out on his own, eventually developing a one-click secure socket layer, or SSL, setup system.