Yottaa, Looking More Like Akamai, Gets $9M for “Anti-Lean” Approach

Coach Wei has been busy lately. The founder and CEO of Boston-based Yottaa is busy running a tech company on two continents. Not only that, but he’s trying to pioneer a new approach to building an enterprise software and Web infrastructure company—one that can iterate and release products almost as fast as a consumer Web startup.

Oh yeah, his company also revealed today that it has raised a $9 million Series B financing round from its existing investors, General Catalyst Partners, Stata Venture Partners, and Cambridge West Ventures, as well as other undisclosed investors. (The round closed a while ago.) Yottaa previously raised a $4 million Series A in 2010.

Yottaa—which has almost 50 employees, most of them in Beijing—has been on a quiet tear lately. The company released its core software for speeding up websites last year and has built up a customer base of e-commerce sites, retail shops, marketing agencies, and other businesses. In February, Yottaa rolled out a content delivery network that includes Internet routing and Web optimization technologies. (You might have wondered how a startup with only $4 million over a couple years could run a content delivery network with data centers around the world; well, it had more money than it was letting on.) And just last week, the company released its “mobile acceleration” software, in partnership with another Boston company, MocoSpace, which calls itself the largest mobile social gaming platform.

These moves increasingly put Yottaa in the same discussion as Cambridge, MA-based Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM), the 13-year-old Web infrastructure firm, except that Yottaa is going after smaller customers than Akamai is, and their technologies are different. But their big goals overlap. For those of you keeping track, Akamai now bills itself as a cloud platform for helping enterprises provide secure, high-performing user experiences on any device, anywhere (with emphasis on Web and mobile). Akamai recently bought Blaze Software and, before that, Cotendo in Web and mobile optimization.

Another thing to watch about Yottaa is its “anti-lean startup” approach—invest in a big team upfront, put in a fair bit of engineering time, and then try to roll out big products. That’s as opposed to the lean startup model, popular in consumer and social Web circles, whereby you have a small team and roll out new iterations continuously.

Yottaa’s approach is geared toward solving the big infrastructure problems of the modern Web. “Because of the scope of the problem and the required complexity of the solution to solve these problems, such offerings typically require a much longer development process,” says Wei. (A year of engineering to get to bare minimum quality, say.) “It took lots of work to get here,” he says. “However, we are here now and we are able to move really quickly and roll out products faster than anyone else.”

That’s a big claim, but if Yottaa is successful with those products, it could have a big impact on how lots of tech firms operate. “I think this will be inspirational for U.S. startups to think about a different way to build a company,” he says.

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