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Tim Dir, head of financial operations at Fastspring

Paul Wellman

Tim Dir, head of financial operations at Fastspring


Fastspring, Onward and Upward

E-Commerce Venture Fastest Growing in Greater L.A.


Tim Dir moved to Santa Barbara to manage rock stars — the ska-flavored Mad Caddies. Now he manages a rock star company. Fastspring, the e-commerce outfit for which Dir heads up financial operations, was just named the fastest growing company in the L.A. metro area and 13th in the country by Deloitte and Touche.

Founded in 2005, Fastspring posted $36.6 million in revenues in 2010, up 17,000 percent from its first full year of operation.

What Fastspring provides for its clients is everything that happens after you hit the checkout button on a Web site that sells digital content, including software, video games, and e-books. It writes all of the code that handles a web store’s virtual shopping cart, payment, tax, delivery (via download), and fraud detection. It also makes sure that the visual aesthetics of the transactional portions of a site matches everything else.

Some of the company’s larger clients include the American Heart Association, Random House, Smith Micro, and Realmac Software. Fastspring charges a base fee of 5.9 percent of sales with customization options that can send the price higher.

Because it has garnered annual mention on lists like Deloitte and Touche’s Fast 500 as well as the Inc. 500, Fastspring has not had to market heavily.

The CEO and brains behind the operation is Dan Engel, who marketed GoToMyPC which Goleta-based Citrix Systems bought for $225 million in 2003. He also had turns working at Internet behemoths Picasa and Google (which acquired Picasa). Fastspring’s other two partners, along with Dir and Engel, are Ryan Dewell and Ken White, who designed and sold early forms of e-commerce software eventually bought by the company Digital River.

Currently, Fastspring employs 27 people spread around the world. Dir, who holds down the fort in Santa Barbara at a small unimposing office in Victoria Court, said that at this point, it is getting harder and harder for Fastspring to maintain its exponential growth.

He hopes that subscription services will boost sales in the future. Fastspring’s spinoff product, SaaSy, is aimed at vendors that provide software, music, or book downloads for a monthly fee. (SaaS is an industry term for “service as a subscription.”) The viability of this form of distribution has been proven by services like Netflix and Napster.

And “nobody does it all at once like us,” says Dir, who concedes that running a business is easier than running a band (whose members have a tendency to act like “spoiled little kids”). Still, he says that his experience as a band manager has influenced his leadership style at Fastspring. “Everything is about contacts. If you treat people right, it will come back around.”

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