The Story of Intricately: Chasing a Goal of Mapping the Internet

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been interested in markets. Not the kind you visit on Sundays with your family – more like the kind where high frequency trading is done. 

For me, it was less about the money trading hands and more about the data generated from every transaction. I found market data particularly fascinating for a couple of reasons:

  1. I knew it wasn’t something most people were looking at, and;
  2. I knew there were hidden insights in the data only obtainable to those with tools and access.

When I joined Akamai in 2005, my interest in market data remained but a whole new world was introduced to me:

Cloud market data.

It had all the same trappings of the market data I found so interesting: it was hidden from plain sight and insights were abundant if you had the right tools and access. Companies were launching applications, turning different cloud services on and off, and scaling their application infrastructure – and all of it was visible if you knew where to look.

Over time, this led to the creation of the company I founded, Intricately – a cloud product adoption and spend intelligence platform that helps cloud revenue teams focus their go-to-market strategy on the prospects with the highest revenue potential.

With plenty of time to reflect on the last decade during the pandemic, I’ve realized that the story of Intricately’s origins hasn’t yet been fully told publicly. 

And since mapping the internet is my obsession, I thought mapping Intricately’s own journey would be a good place to start.

Before the spark

There’s so much of this world that we can't see unless we have some kind of technology helping us: from radio frequencies to what might be happening seismically beneath the earth’s surface. Technology gives us the superhuman ability to “see” things we normally couldn’t with just the human eye.

My lifelong interest in bringing transparency to the cloud leveled up when I discovered the world of network infrastructure. 

I found it fascinating that I could see network packets moving between devices. I wondered if I could see what was inside those packets, or if there were interesting insights I could gather from the communications one device was making with another.

But the biggest question of all that stuck with me over the years was this:

Could insights from all these computers and devices enable us to move more intelligently through our own world?

Looking “under the hood” at Akamai

At Akamai, I got to see firsthand how the largest companies in the world were scaling their applications and infrastructure using the cloud. 

During my tenure, I worked closely with companies like Apple, Yahoo!, Electronic Arts, and Netflix.

Throughout this period of my career – including a second stint at Akamai in 2012 as a Lead Architect – I recognized the disconnect between cloud technology and the teams tasked with selling and marketing it.

Sales and marketing teams had little visibility into how their products were being used by customers and even less visibility into how their competitors’ and partners’ products were being adopted. As innovation across the cloud was exploding, this lack of visibility across the business was only getting worse.

One scene that would frequently play out was a business team asking engineering to provide them with competitive intelligence for a sales opportunity. 

Who was the prospect using to deliver their video in Brazil? How much were they spending on storage? How much traffic were they seeing? And the biggest question of all: How much should we quote this prospect?

The poor engineer, tasked with the impossible, would get to work. They’d query DNS, run traceroutes, try to deconstruct an application if they had access to one (which in many cases they didn’t), and provide some guidance to their business partner on how best to proceed.

Of course, most of this effort delivered very little. The tools used were insufficient and the approach varied from engineer to engineer.

Not only was this one-off approach to sales reconnaissance largely ineffective but it also seemed strangely out of character for innovative technology companies. And because I was excited by the data one could collect and its impact on marketing and sales operations, I made it my mission to build something better — much better.

Building Intricately

In 2014, Intricately entered the scene. And while our platform has grown significantly in its ability to deliver value to our customers over the years, our core objective has remained the same:

Provide leading cloud companies with detailed product adoption, usage, and spend insights about their sales prospects and customers so that marketing can start better conversations, sales can deliver more wins, and customer success can spot issues before they become problems. 

My fascination with network infrastructure merged with my dedication to bringing transparency to markets and businesses, and Intricately was the obvious answer. Michael Pollack, my co-founder, was experienced in the MarTech and Sales space, having sold a previous company to Marketo. He was the perfect partner to help us bring Intricately to life.

We’ve dramatically improved the visibility marketing and sales has within the cloud. In a way, what we set out to do came down to democratizing cloud market data – making the “hidden” information visible to anyone with a desire to know it. No more silos between engineers and the business teams who transact on what has become the ultimate marketplace: the cloud.

I’m incredibly proud of the product and team we’ve built and how we power revenue growth for the world’s leading cloud companies – including Google, AWS, Snowflake, and Cloudflare. I look forward to offering more insight into what’s “under the hood” at Intricately in future articles.

FL headshot_200x200

Fima Leshinsky is the Co-Founder and CTO of Intricately. He is a technical executive with deep experience in computer engineering and architecture. Prior to co-founding Intricately with Michael Pollack, he held several technical roles at Akamai, Limelight Networks, and Ning Interactive.

 

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