NORWALK, Conn. — The CEO of a billion-dollar data protection company company based in Norwalk made a record $50 million donation to the Rochester Institute of Technology, the place where he got his start.
It's the largest donation the private college in New York has ever received.
Austin McChord, a member of the Class of 2009, said RIT is where the idea for Datto came to him.
“My goal with this gift is two-fold,” said McChord, 32. “First is to help make more resources available to students, alumni and the community at-large to create, build and innovate for the future. But it’s also to help recognize those who helped you along the way. My success today would not have been possible without my time at RIT.”
McChord is also a trustee at RIT.
“A gift of this magnitude will help propel RIT from excellence to pre-eminence,” said RIT President David Munson. “We are so proud of our alumnus Austin McChord. He was passionate about his idea and he turned it into a big success. This embodies the creative element that we want to further highlight at RIT. Every student can be involved in creating things that never before existed, and then putting the result into play. His investment in RIT will help our students and faculty make their mark on the world.”
The gift is to be designated for use in two major areas:
- $30 million to foster creativity and entrepreneurship at RIT, including $17.5 million to launch the Maker Library & Innovative Learning Complex of the Future.
- $20 million to advance RIT’s cybersecurity and artificial intelligence capabilities. This funding will be used to expand facilities in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.
McChord founded Datto, a global provider of Total Data Protection Solutions, in 2007. Starting with an idea he had while a student at RIT, he started the company in the basement of his father’s office building.
His original goal of building basic backup for small businesses across the country has expanded dramatically over the past 10 years. Datto has experienced exponential growth, appearing on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and has been recognized by the Connecticut Technology Council as one of the state’s fastest-growing companies.
Datto was recently acquired by Vista Equity Partners and merged with Autotask Corp. McChord is CEO of the new company, which has about 1,400 employees with offices in nine countries. In 2015, the company became Connecticut’s most valuable startup, with a valuation in excess of $1 billion.
The holder of several patents, McChord was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2015 as a leader in Enterprise Technology and won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year New York Region Award in 2016.
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