5000 Fastest growing companies installed these business email solutions

At WhoAPI we love to do unbiased, self-funded research. We do it with our APIs, and by doing so, we let our products speak for themselves. In the past, we’ve had success with our “four-letter .com research” that has become very popular. Recently we checked all the four-letter .net domain names in the same manner.

This time around, we’ve asked ourselves if companies install professional email hosting solutions such as Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), and other popular options.

Have Inc 5000 companies installed professional email solutions?

In order to do those checks, we needed to have a sample list. Something you might describe as a market segment. So we decided on the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. Once we started working on our research, we realized we didn’t get 5000 domain names.

I thought each company on the Inc 5000 list was a unique company with a unique domain name. However, some companies are sharing the same root domain as listed below.

same root domain: proforma.com
Place: 1638 Commonwealth Graphics, powered by Proforma (proforma.com)
Place: 1854 Debar Hospitality (megamarketing.proforma.com)

same root domain: proforma.com
Place: 1638 Commonwealth Graphics, powered by Proforma (proforma.com)
Place: 1855 Proforma Think Ink (proforma.com)


same root domain: sei.com
Place: 980 SEI – Washington, D.C. (sei.com)
Place: 4321 SEI – Boston (sei.com)

same root domain: sei.com
Place: 980 SEI – Washington, D.C. (sei.com)
Place: 4491 SEI – Dallas (sei.com)

As you can see there are duplicated companies (mostly cause they are regional departments). There were also 2 non-valid domain names. So, although there are 5000 companies, we are checking 4977 domain names in our research. We are going to check their MX record.

The results from checking 4977 domain names / MX records

We used our DNS Zone API to check these domains for their MX records. What is an MX record you might be asking? MX stands for Mail Exchange, it’s just a server that handles email. So for example, if a company installs Google’s mail servers or Microsoft mail servers, they would enter aspmx.l.google.com for Google’s solution Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) or mail.protection.outlook.com for Microsoft’s solution Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365).

As you will see from our research these two are the most popular providers. But let’s cover everything in the right order as we did our research.

So, we checked 4977 domain names with our DNS Zone API, and here are our findings.

  1. Google Workspace: 2044 domain names (41%),
  2. Microsoft 365: 1731 domain names (35%).
  3. Other popular MX records are:
    ppe-hosted.com and pphosted.com156 and 34 domain names
    mimecast.com 137 domain names
    barracudanetworks.com 116 domain names
    arsmtp.com 80 domain names
    secureserver.net 55 domain names
  4. Other less popular MX records 308 domain names
  5. Only 187 domains are using MX-records which are unique (probably this means they use their own email server).
  6. 137 domains do not have any MX record at all.
  • 51 of the fastest-growing companies also had their domain names pointing to their outlook.com and office365.us mail exchange on top of the 1731 companies pointing to Microsost365.

About the solutions listed

As we can see in the list above, the most used cloud email solutions are Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. The other popular solutions listed that appear on the MX results are cybersecurity, spam protection, and general email protection solutions. We will explore these solutions briefly in the text below.

Another fact that’s worth keeping in mind and repeating here is that these are NOT the best or the most used solutions ever. These are the most used solutions with the approximately 5000 fastest growing companies announced in the year 2021.

If in the text we say domain names, websites, companies, MX records, installations, they all mean the same thing. It means that when we checked the MX record for a domain name of a certain company (or regional departments as we explained earlier), we found an MX record that belongs to an email provider such as Google, Microsoft, or a web hosting company such as GoDaddy, Rackspace, etc. In other cases, we also found cybersecurity and spam protection companies.

Google Workspace (2044 )

Out of 4977 domain names we have checked for MX record, the most used MX record was the one that belongs to Google Workspace. A total of 2044 entered the Google Workspace MX record. We recognize these when we see a “name”: “aspmx.l.google.com”. Such an example is listed in the image below.

Example MX record using Google Workspace (Source WhoAPI DNS Zone API)

Google Workspace is a collection of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration tools, software, and products developed and marketed by Google. Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) includes collaboration tools like Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, and more.

Microsoft 365 (1782)

The second most popular solution among the fastest-growing private companies in the US is Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365).  This line of subscription services offered by Microsoft that adds to and includes the Microsoft Office product line.

This includes Outlook for email, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher (PC only), Access (PC only), Teams, Exchange One Drive and SharePoint, and more.

Microsoft 365 example MX record: “name“: “gspp-com.mail.protection.outlook.com”

As you can see, the MX records are different from the other example. We can even guess that this MX record example belongs to the domain name gspp.com. GSPP.COM is of course one of the fastest-growing private companies in the US and they are using the Microsoft 365 solution. Green Street Power Partners is a national developer, financier, owner, and operator of solar energy systems for businesses, schools, nonprofits, and municipalities expanding across the country.

GoDaddy (55 websites)

godaddy logo

To give you an idea of the market dominance of Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, the third email provider on the list is the Web Hosting company and domain registrar GoDaddy. There is also Rackspace with 32 websites, so it is not so uncommon to use the MX of your web hosting provider.

MX record secureserver.net belongs to GoDaddy. Maybe not as “exciting” as the other providers listed here, GoDaddy offers “regular” email services for their domain and web hosting clients.

To their credit, they also offer Professional Email solutions, so you can use a professional email address like you@yourdomain.com, and they are also offering Professional Email with Microsoft 365. You can also order advanced email security, email backup, and email archiving.

With 9 thousand employees, 21 million users, and 82 million domain names (source), Godaddy is the largest domain registrar in the world. Compared to previously listed companies, they are dominating in a different category.

Our research took a turn

Here’s where it gets interesting. As you read in the intro of this research article, our topic of research was professional email providers such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. But we soon realized that many of these companies have some sort of spam protection, cybersecurity, and more. So we broadened our research and made it a 2 for 1 if you will.

Email protection services and cybersecurity

Next on the most popular list are services that are cybersecurity, spam protection, and general email protection solutions. The important thing to note is that these services are not offering the same business tools as Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. As you will see below, many of them are integrators of the Microsoft 365 solution, and they provide additional services after setting up Microsoft 365 for you.

235 companies have some sort of protection combined with a professional email suite of tools

In our research, we found that 235 companies have a secondary MX record. The first MX record would resolve to Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, or other productivity solutions like Zoho Mail. While the second MX would resolve to some protection. In some cases, companies don’t have a suite of tools like Office and Outlook email, but they do have spam protection.

Let’s mention them briefly and explain what these companies offer and how they are different.

Proofpoint (190 websites)

Proofpoint LogoMX records ppe-hosted.com and pphosted.com belong to Proofpoint Inc.

Eric Hahn, former CTO of Netscape, founded the company in 2002. It has since grown to more than 3,600 employees serving over 8,000 enterprises worldwide. The company went public in 2012. In 2020 it generated more than $1 billion in revenue, making it the first SaaS-based cybersecurity and compliance company to meet that milestone.

Source: proofpoint.com

With Proofpoint’s solution, you can secure your Microsoft 365. On their website, Proofpoint is saying that they sandbox over 20 million attachments per day! Their advanced threat protection is guarding both email and your cloud account.

Mimecast (137 websites)

Mimecast logo

On their website, Mimecast assures us they know email technologies inside and out. They can help your company manage risk and better control Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, or Google Apps for Work.

Mimecast (NASDAQ: MIME) was born in 2003 with a focus on delivering relentless protection. Each day, we take on cyber disruption for our tens of thousands of customers around the globe; always putting them first, and never giving up on tackling their biggest security challenges together. We are the company that built an intentional and scalable design ideology that solves the number one cyberattack vector – email. We continuously invest to thoughtfully integrate brand protection, security awareness training, web security, compliance and other essential capabilities. Mimecast is here to help protect large and small organizations from malicious activity, human error and technology failure; and to lead the movement toward building a more resilient world.

Source: investors.mimecast.com

Barracuda (116 websites)

barracuda-networks-logo

We build enterprise-grade, cloud-ready security solutions. More than 200,000 global customers trust Barracuda to safeguard their employees, data, and applications from a wide range of threats. Barracuda provides easy, comprehensive and affordable solutions for email protection, application and cloud security, network security and data protection. We are continually innovating to deliver tomorrow’s security technology, today.

Source: Barracuda.com

Barracuda offers total email protection and Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) backup but they are also offering API security and Brand protection. Similar to Mimecast and Proofpoint, Barracuda Networks, Inc was incorporated in 2002.

Appriver (80)

appriver logo

The MX record arsmtp.com belongs to Appriver Inc. (a company acquired by Zix in February 2019). Zix is a top provider of Microsoft 365 in North America and has done over 14,000 migrations.

Appriver’s offering consists of email encryption, information archiving, secure file sharing, email threat protection, email messaging privacy, hosted exchange, cloud-to-cloud backup, and Microsoft 365.

Other cybersecurity companies we saw

From here on, we saw many other companies that had much fewer installations. Sophos, Cisco, Spam Titan, Securence, Broadcom, TrendMicro, FireEye, and many others.

How did we get these results?

Now for the technical part of our research in case you want to replicate this research on a different list of domain names or a different market segment.

In order to check the list of our domains and determine which email service they use, we queried our DNSZone API.

To show you how we did it, let’s take as an example one of Inc5000 websites: humanbees.com. Сode below is written in PHP language.

First, let’s send a request to WhoAPI DNSZone API:

<?php
// Fetch DNSZone API
try {
    $dnszone_result = request_api('humanbees.com');
} catch (Exception $e) {
    echo "Error: ".$e->getMessage()."\n";
    exit;
}

/**
* Make request to the API
* 
* @param string Domain name
* @return array Result
*/
function request_api($domain) {
    /*
        Settings
    */

    // Request timeout in seconds
    $timeout = 60;

    // Url
    $url = "https://api.whoapi.com/?"
        ."r=dnszone"
        ."&apikey=".YOUR_API_KEY
        ."&domain=".$domain
        ;

    /*
        Request
    */

    // Init curl
    $curl = curl_init($url);

    // Curl settings
    curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
    curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_FAILONERROR, true);
    curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_TIMEOUT, $timeout);
    curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_CONNECTTIMEOUT, $timeout);

    // Make request
    $result = curl_exec($curl);
    $error = curl_error($curl);
    curl_close($curl);

    /*
        Validate result
    */

    // HTTP error
    if (!empty($error)) {
        throw new Exception("API error:\n".$url."\n".$error);
    }

    // Empty result
    if (empty($result)) {
        throw new Exception("API reply is empty:\n".$url);
    }

    // Decode the reply
    $result_decoded = json_decode($result, true);

    // Error while decoding?
    if (empty($result_decoded)) {
        throw new Exception("API decoding failed:\n".$url."\n".$result);
    }

    // Status is missing?
    if (!isset($result_decoded['status'])) {
        throw new Exception("API status is missing:\n".$url."\n".var_export($result_decoded, true));
    }

    // Status is invalid?
    if ((int)$result_decoded['status'] !== 0) {
        throw new Exception("API status is invalid:\n".$url."\n".var_export($result_decoded, true));
    }

    /*
        Return result
    */

    return $result_decoded;
}
?>

After running this code we will have $dnszone_result variable holding Array of data which looks like this:

{
  "status": "0",
  "ip": "192.124.249.56",
  "mx": [
    {
      "priority": "0",
      "name": "humanbees-com.mail.protection.outlook.com"
    }
  ],
  "arecord": [
    "192.124.249.56"
  ],
  "soa": {
    "nameserver": "ns39.domaincontrol.com",
    "email": "Removed due to GDPR",
    "serial_number": "2021082704",
    "refresh": "28800",
    "retry": "7200",
    "expire": "604800",
    "min_ttl": "600"
  },
  "nameservers": [
    "ns39.domaincontrol.com.",
    "ns40.domaincontrol.com."
  ],
  "nameservers_cached": false,
  "txt": {
    "raw": "\"v=spf1 include:spf.protection.outlook.com -all\"\n",
    "spf": {
      "rule": "Fail",
      "mx": false,
      "mx_domain": "",
      "a": false,
      "a_domain": "",
      "ip4": "",
      "ip6": "",
      "includes": "spf.protection.outlook.com",
      "redirect": "",
      "explanation": "",
      "ptr": false,
      "ptr_domain": ""
    }
  },
  "requests_available": 1,
  "status_desc": "Successfully processed"
}

What we are interested in this reply is the “mx” part. The MX record indicates how email messages should be routed in accordance with the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP, the standard protocol for all emails). MX record must always point to another domain.

And what we see is that the MX record is pointing to humanbees-com.mail.protection.outlook.com domain, which is used by Microsoft 365 for mail services:

A simple check like the one below will tell us if this exact domain is using Outlook (which is Microsoft 365) services or not.:

<?php
$is_outlook = false;

// Check if MX record exists and is valid
if (!empty($dnszone_result['mx']) && is_array($dnszone_result['mx'])) {
    // For every MX record
    foreach ($dnszone_result['mx'] as $current_mx) {
        // Check if it holds the Outlook domain
        if (!empty($current_mx['name']) && is_int(stripos($current_mx['name'], 'mail.protection.outlook.com'))) {
            $is_outlook = true;
            break;
        }
    }
}

echo "Using MS Outlook: ".($is_outlook ? "Yes" : "No")."\n";
?>

Post a Comment