Distil opens Raleigh office

Posted by David Ranii on May 5, 2014 

The founders of Distil Networks, a small but fast-growing Internet security software firm based in Arlington, Va., have returned to their North Carolina roots by opening an office in the Triangle.

Distil has four software engineers in the Triangle and expects to have 10 by the end of the year, said co-founder and CEO Rami Essaid.

Distil began working out of a temporary space in the HQ Raleigh incubator in the city’s Warehouse District in late February but is looking for a permanent location, Essaid said.

Essaid and co-founders Engin Akyol, the company’s chief technology officer, and Andrew Stein, chief scientist, grew up in North Carolina and went to college together at N.C. State University, graduating in 2005. Essaid and Akyol grew up in Cary and have been friends since the seventh grade.

Founded in 2011, today the privately held company has 23 workers and its revenue has been rising 20 percent per month in recent months. The company has raised $3.5 million in venture capital to date – the Triangle’s IDEA Fund Partners is one of its backers – and is in the process of raising “a significant round” of additional funding, Essaid said.

Distil’s cloud-based software is used by hundreds of businesses, including more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, Essaid said.

“They have passed the startup phase and they are now a company,” said Lister Delgado, managing partner at IDEA, which invested in Distil before the company decided to locate in Virginia. “Revenues are very good. … They are starting to gain traction.”

Distil’s software identifies whether humans or malicious, automated computer programs called bots are accessing a website – and blocks the bots. That protects the site from click fraud and prevents content and data from being siphoned off, among other things.

The sales pitch is that Distil’s software, which works in the background, is both more effective and less intrusive than the CAPTCHA system that requires visitors to a website to read squiggly-line text and then type it in order to gain access.

Bots have ways of getting around CAPTCHA, Essaid said.

The decision to open a software engineering office in the Triangle was driven by the wealth of talent that is available here and the fact that salaries are lower than they are in northern Virginia.

“What we have found is, our network is really here,” Essaid said. “Our first three hires were people from North Carolina that we convinced to move to Virginia.”

Since there are a lot of tech workers in North Carolina that don’t want to move, however, Distil decided to open an office here.

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