I am Downtown Boston: Danielle Sheer, VP of Carbonite

Posted February 17, 2015 by Cheryl Fenton in I am Downtown Boston: Neighbor Profiles
Danielle Sheer

Who can forget Han Solo frozen in carbonite on Darth Vader’s orders? His tortured expression, defensive hands, legs locked in unrealized motion. Kinda like you when the last snowstorm came on The Weather Channel.

A nod to that strong substance in that unfortunate incident in The Empire Strikes Back, Carbonite rids the world of another type of unfortunate incident–losing data. This Boston-based company is a leading provider of cloud and hybrid backup and recovery solutions. This past October, it moved to Downtown Crossing’s Lafayette City Center into a 52,000-square-foot new home, doubling its footprint. A good thing since Carbonite has been on Inc‘s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America list, with more than 1.5 million customers and 300 billion files backed up.

We spoke with Carbonite’s Vice President Danielle Sheer–once we shook off the awe of her accomplishments (Boston Business Journal’s “40 under 40” of emerging business leaders and honored by the Massachusetts Bar Association as an “Emerging Leader”). Why did Carbonite choose Downtown Boston, and what’s up with Star Wars?

TheVoiceofDowntownBoston: How does the cloud backup process work for your clients?
Danielle Sheer: My computer has pictures of our new headquarters and recent open house party, documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, all saved within folders. Let’s say I’m walking home across the snowy Boston Commons and I drop my laptop, smashing it into the ice. I’ll just log in to my Carbonite account on my home laptop or iPad, and restore the files that were on my damaged computer and be back up and running without disruption.

VoDB: What was the attraction to Downtown Boston?
DS: It’s a great neighborhood with coffee shops, restaurants, bars, shopping, residential development. The startup tech community has found a new home base in The Innovation District. At noon on a weekdays, Downtown Crossing pulses with NYC-like energy, sounds and smells, but with the respite of what we all love about Boston—one direction gets you to the Waterfront, the other to Boston Common.

VoDB: Tell us about SaaSy, your initiative dedicated to the women empowerment in the technology industry.
DS: We founded SaaSy to empower women to take hold of leadership positions in the tech industry. Our goals are to give up-and-comers a chance to learn business ropes in a low-risk environment; sponsor local tech events that support our mission; and provide hands-on professional training opportunities. We believe that as a result of our efforts, more women are promoting themselves and getting promoted. Since founding SaaSy when we had one woman executive, our management team is now comprised of 25% women leaders.

VoDB: How did the Star Wars reference come to be?
DS: David Friend (former CEO, now executive chairman) was thinking about what to name the company. He wanted something strong, and liked “metallic” names. He’s a big Star Wars fan, and loved the idea of giving a nod to the movies, especially since it had a tie to what we do (keeping data safe).

VoDB: Is it true–Carbonite is frozen in carbonite?
DS: Our architects found reclaimed metal, spent several months further distressing it, then built it in around our office’s borders, held in place by heavy metal, distressed studs. The effect is that Carbonite the company is frozen in carbonite the substance.

VoDB: How are you fitting into Downtown’s business community?
DS: It feels like the first few weeks of freshman year. Everyone is moving into their new homes and feeling each other and our new neighborhood out.

VoDB: May the Force be with you.