20 Years of Paessler - Our Company History in Four Acts
Originally published on November 16, 2017 by Patrick Gebhardt
Last updated on March 03, 2022 • 10 minute read
20 years can be a shockingly long time. Take a look at our daily routine – of all the things that we do every day now, what was around 20 years ago? No smartphones or Facebook (people actually still read newspapers!), no streaming, and only a very, very slow internet connection. A lot has happened, and although we celebrate our proud, 20-year-old company’s anniversary this November, that doesn’t mean that the PRTG Network Monitor, for which the name Paessler is now known around the world, was also around 20 years ago. But let’s take things one at a time.
1997 was a year of great achievements. There were comets, a cloned sheep, a dancing baby – and even the starting shot for PRTG Network Monitor. And our founder and CEO, Dirk Paessler, developed a tool that we today consider the “fore-forerunner” of PRTG.
“A student, a vision, a garage”: those were the ingredients for a classic 90’s startup.
As a student, our Dirk is already working on different software – on behalf of Fireball, which was the number one search engine in Germany at the time. After his Fireball application crashed a couple times, Dirk decided to develop his first “product,” the Webserver Stress Tool. Then a few years later, with support from Jens Rupp, today the Senior Software Developer at Paessler, comes the IPCheck Server Monitor, a forerunner of PRTG Network Monitor. IPCheck then becomes successful shareware, and annual sales exceed €100,000 for the first time.
Paessler needs a monitoring software – the birth of PRTG!
On August 22, 2001, Dirk founded Paessler GmbH, the predecessor of today’s Paessler AG. The company moved from Dirk’s living room to an office community. A new developer arrives on the scene with Roland Grau; Paessler now consists of three people. The company’s growing IT infrastructure is acting up more and more frequently. A monitoring software is needed so the causes behind the problems can be found. Dirk downloads the then-popular open source tool, MRTG (Multi Router Traffic Grapher).
But launching MRTG flounders before it can make it off the ground. Dirk Paessler refuses to install software that has seven pages worth of instructions for installation alone. Dirk’s statement, “there has to be an easier way!” becomes the birth of PRTG. He programs the third piece of Paessler software, the PRTG Traffic Grapher. Even though PRTG speaks to a completely different target group today, we are confronted over and over with questions about MRTG and whether PRTG is an MRTG spinoff. The answer is a resounding no. PRTG’s source code has nothing to do with MRTG; only in the naming did we take inspiration from MRTG.
A sworn community of network experts and developers becomes Paessler AG.
The Paessler company grows, and the share in the community office becomes too small. Time for the first office of our own in the heart of Fürth. In October of 2003, Christian Twardawa joins Paessler. The current chairperson and COO takes care of Marketing, Sales, and Finance. In the years to come, the company grows to a staff of ten, financed by the steadily growing revenue generated by the Webserver Stress Tool, IPCheck Server Monitor, and PRTG Traffic Grapher.
Dirk’s not looking to create a “normal” company, but rather a community of highly qualified and committed experts all working towards the same goal: creating outstanding software and a company that is more than just a workplace for its employees. In 2005, Dirk turns Paessler GmbH into Paessler AG to make it easier for his staff to participate in the company.
PRTG Traffic Grapher and IPCheck Server Monitor are converted into a single solution – PRTG Network Monitor is born!
In 2007, the office has become too small again. Paessler moves from Fürth to Nuremberg, within walking distance of Nuremberg Castle. Office space triples. The first sales representatives in the United States are recruited. In 2008, PRTG Traffic Grapher 6 and IPCheck Server Monitor are converted into a single solution. PRTG Network Monitor 7 is born - a modern, comprehensive monitoring solution that monitors uptime as well as performance. The “new” PRTG Network Monitor 7 is used directly by the German Network Computing as a reference for monitoring software in 2008. “If you’re looking for a richly equipped, powerful, yet affordable monitoring product and also want to support the national industry, Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor is highly recommended.” Meanwhile, Paessler continues to grow. In 2011, there are 35 employees and the office that still feels new is getting a bit cramped.
2 relocations, 130 new employees in 7 countries, and more than 200,000 customers in 5 years. Paessler is finally becoming a global player.
The next move is due in 2011. It’s just a few blocks down to a fully renovated, spacious industrial loft. Paessler maintains the same philosophy as before: development, support, marketing, and sales – everything that serves the customer and advances the company is done by Paessler itself and not outsourced. But this also means that the company is being “forced” into unabated, rapid growth due to the constantly growing demand. The “Paessler spirit” that Dirk embodies, which fulfills and drives him, and carries over to the staff, allows new colleagues to be integrated almost seamlessly into the company.
PRTG Network Monitor becomes a worldwide brand name, and the Paessler company becomes a true “global player” thanks to their ever-increasing presence at international conventions and trade shows. This allows the target group to become more clearly defined. PRTG Network Monitor offers professional IT monitoring for small and mid-sized networks. Ease of use, flexibility, and enjoyment in the software are the priorities. The user is meant to enjoy working with PRTG. In 2014, Paessler passes the 100-employee mark. The new office no longer feels nearly as big as before, and the search for a new building begins. A suitable new office is found in 2015: a four-story office building in an industrial park in northeast Nuremberg, with space for up to 400 employees. April 2016 marks the move for what are now almost 200 employees to the Nuremberg location. And the company continues full steam ahead...
Paessler AG’s rapid growth means that the majority of current employees joined the company within the last 3-4 years. But the “old hands” on the team still remember the early years – and to them, there’s clearly a huge difference between “then” and “now.” Whereas company parties at the beginning made up a single table, they now are more likely to entail booking the whole restaurant. And where German (or Franconian) used to be the only language spoken in the office, Paessler now communicates mostly in English – a side effect of our internationalization. And the really big topics have changed too, of course. While virtualization used to be the hot topic, today it’s all about Cloud and IoT. Above all, 20 years of company history means 20 years of experience, knowledge, and intuition. And with this wealth of experience, we want to make the coming years a success.