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In Hard Drive

Monday, November 19, 2007

by Donna Parker

Dirk Elmendorf '97 is a man on a mission - as revealed in his self-appointed title of Chief Technology Evangelistfor Rackspace Managed Hosting.

"If you pick an unusual title, you can keep it forever," says one of the founders of Rackspace, a company that is the fastest-growing managed hosting specialist in the world.  Dirk, who holds a degree in international economics, started the company with a few friends just a year after graduation and feels lucky that it's not only still standing, but thriving.

"My greatest achievement is really not just that Rackspace exists, but that we made it through a difficult period in the economy.  We survived the bust.  It's a place filled with excitement and passion.  We have a company we can come to and believe in," says this passionate programmer who believes Rackspace's greatest strength is customer service.

"We can be considered one of the world's great service companies.  We care about the customer - it's about getting resolution.  Whatever we do, we provide fanatical support."
Truthfully, this is not where Dirk thought he'd end up.  He spent one semester in Russia and almost pursued an International BA, so that he could go back.  He'd long considered computers a hobby, but while still in school was invited by Bruce Holl, his Russian professor, to provide technical training for the professors on how to best use the Internet to support their classes.  So, when two Trinity friends wanted to start a computer-based business, he hopped on board and never looked back.

"In the early days, if I was awake, I was working on Rackspace."

Recently married to wife Annie, Dirk enjoys making home brew in his new house "because there's lots of chemistry involved" and "it's nice to go from something very technical and modern to something with a very long history."

But, he's never far away from the keyboard.

"My other hobby is programming.  That's what makes my gig here so awesome.  What I do for work and fun is pretty much the same thing."

Dirk maintains close ties with Trinity, and in fact, recently had lunch with several professors to determine how Rackspace and Trinity can enhance their relationship.

"We're a young company growing super-fast.  There are lots of opportunities for advancement if you have the drive and we want to draw Trinity graduates in."

"I went into Trinity a big believer and I still am.  A liberal arts education exposed us to numerous disciplines and prepared us for what we did.  Learning how to learn has been essential to me in my career."