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A glimpse inside the secret meeting room at Dyn, done up like a New Hampshire backwoods cabin

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 29, 2013 08:30 AM

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Earlier this month, Cory von Wallenstein, the chief technology officer at Dyn, was showing me around the start-up's offices in an old mill building in Manchester, New Hampshire. The company offers DNS and e-mail management services that help customers like Twitter, CNBC, and TripAdvisor keep their websites and customer communications running smoothly. Dyn has a swanky, two-floor space with an indoor climbing wall, putting green, mock movie posters commemorating team achievements, and a Skee Ball machine. So I was a little surprised when von Wallenstein stopped at a nondescript server closet and ushered me inside.

dyn4.jpg"Your typical, normal-looking server rack, right?" he said. Absolutely.

But then von Wallenstein touched a button somewhere on the face of one of the servers, and a hidden door opened up. Within a few steps, we were inside what seemed like a North Country hunting lodge, and the door swung shut behind us. As it closed, on the back side of it was a rack full of whiskey bottles. It was just about lunchtime on a Thursday, so I figured, why not? Von Wallenstein put together a nice tumbler of Lagavulin, with a single ice cube floating in the center. We had a seat in some comfy leather chairs.

Von Wallenstein talks about Dyn's culture as "quirky" and "enigmatic," and the windowless, log cabin-like space is certainly that. But he adds that "stuff like this doesn't create a good culture. You need a good culture to allow stuff like this to happen."

Earlier this year, Dyn's management team asked the contractor who was expanding their 60,000 square foot headquarters to set up a secret retreat. This is what he came up with. There's a faux fireplace, and game on the walls. Von Wallenstein says it's a great place to bring prospective hires, negotiate with vendors, brainstorm, or simply unwind at the end of the day. Unlike the company’s other conference rooms, it can’t be reserved by employees online.

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After the cocktail, we moved on to lunch... at Dyn's farm-to-table private café, run by Kevin Donahue, a noted Manchester chef whom the company hired away from a local restaurant. Clearly, they're trying everything they can to make Dyn a magnet that can pull talented techies up to Manchester...

Last October, Dyn raised $38 million in a first round of outside funding. More recently, it has attracted executives from Verisign, VSnap, F5 Networks, Sonian, and Constant Contact.

More pics below...

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Coincidentally, I was in Austin last week and had a chance to stop by Capital Factory, a tech incubator space, for a quick visit. Joshua Baer, Capital Factory's founder (and a native of Nashua, New Hampshire), showed me their hidden meeting room, which he said inspired the guys at Dyn.

Touch the right book on this bookcase...

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...And it swings open to grant you entrance to this meeting room.

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What do you think? Is this now officially a thing... like Razor scooters during the dot-com heyday?

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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