All posts in “Developer”

Rookout lands $8M Series A to expand debugging platform

Rookout, a startup that provides debugging across a variety of environments including serverless and containers, announced an $8 million Series A investment today. It plans to use the money to expand beyond its debugging roots.

The round was led by Cisco Investments along with existing investors TLV Partners and Emerge. Nat Friedman, CEO of GitHub; John Kodumal, CTO and co-founder of LaunchDarkly, and Raymond Colletti, VP of revenue at Codecov also participated.

Rookout from day one has been working to provide production debugging and collection capabilities to all platforms,” Or Weis, co-founder and CEO of Rookout told TechCrunch. That has included serverless like AWS Lambda, containers and Kubernetes and Platform as a Service like Google App Engine and Elastic Beanstalk

The company is also giving visibility into platforms that are sometimes hard to observe because of the ephemeral nature of the technology, and that go beyond its pure debugging capabilities. “In the last year, we’ve discovered that our customers are finding completely new ways to use Rookout’s code-level data collection capabilities and that we need to accommodate, support and enhance the many varied uses of code-level observability and pipelining,” Weiss said in a statement.

It was particularly telling that a company like Cisco was deeply involved in the round. Rob Salvagno, vice president of Cisco Global Corporate Development and Cisco Investments, likes the developer focus of the company.

“Developers have become key influencers of enterprise IT spend. By collecting data on-demand without re-deploying, Rookout created a Developer-centric software, which short-circuits complexities in the production debugging, increases Developer efficiency and reduces the friction which exists between IT Ops and Developers,” Salvagno said in a statement.

Rookout, which launched in 2017, has offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv with a total of 20 employees so far. It has raised over $12 million.

The dreaded 10x, or, how to handle exceptional employees

The “10x engineer.” Shudder. Wince. I have rarely seen my Twitter feed unite against an idea so loudly, or in such harmony.

I refer of course to the thread last month by Accel India’s Shekhar Kirani, explaining “If you have a 10x engineer as part of your first few engineers, you increase the odds of your startup success significantly” and then going on to address, in his opinion, “How do you spot a 10x engineer?”

The resulting scorn was tsunami-like. The very concept of a 10x engineer seems so… five years ago. Since then, the Valley has largely come to the collective conclusion that 1) there is no such thing as a 10x engineer 2) even if there were, you wouldn’t want to hire one, because they play so poorly with others.

The anti-10x squad raises many important and valid — frankly, obvious and inarguable — points. Go down that Twitter thread and you’ll find that 10x engineers are identified as: people who eschew meetings, work alone, rarely look at documentation, don’t write much themselves, are poor mentors, and view process, meetings, or training as reasons to abandon their employer. In short, they are unbelievably terrible team members.

Is software a field like the arts, or sports, in which exceptional performers can exist? Sure. Absolutely. Software is Extremistan, not Mediocristan, as Nassim Taleb puts it.

Dark emerges from stealth with unique ‘deployless’ software model

Dark has been keeping its startup in the dark for the last couple of years while it has built a unique kind of platform it calls “deployless” software development. If you build your application in Dark’s language inside of Dark’s editor, the reward is you can deploy it automatically on Dark’s infrastructure on Google Cloud Platform without worrying about all of the typical underlying deployment tasks.

The company emerged from stealth today and announced $3.5 million in seed funding, which it actually received back in 2017. The founders have spent the last couple of years building this rather complex platform.

Ellen Chisa, CEO and co-founder at the company, admits that the Dark approach requires learning to use her company’s toolset, but she says the trade-off is worth it because everything has been carefully designed to work in tandem.

“I think the biggest downside of Dark is definitely that you’re learning a new language, and using a different editor when you might be used to something else, but we think you get a lot more benefit out of having the three parts working together,” she told TechCrunch.

She added, “In Dark, you’re getting the benefit of your editor knowing how the language works. So you get really great autocomplete, and your infrastructure is set up for you as soon as you’ve written any code because we know exactly what is required.”

It’s certainly an intriguing proposition, but Chisa acknowledges that it will require evangelizing the methodology to programmers, who may be used to employing a particular set of tools to write their programs. She said the biggest selling point is that it removes so much of the complexity around deployment by bringing an integrated level of automation to the process.

She says there are three main benefits to Dark’s approach. In addition to providing automated infrastructure, which is itself a major plus, developers using Dark don’t have to worry about a deployment pipeline. “As soon as you write any piece of backend code in Dark, it is already hosted for you,” she explained. The last piece is that tracing is built right in as you code. “Because you’re using our infrastructure, you have traces available in your editor as soon as you’ve written any code,” she said.

Chisa’s co-founder and company CTO is Paul Biggar, who knows a thing or two about deployment, having helped found CircleCI, the CI/CD pioneering company.

As for that $3.5 million seed round, it was led by Cervin Ventures, with participation from Boldstart, Data Collective, Harrison Metal, Xfactor (Erica Brescia), Backstage, Nextview, Promus, Correlation, 122 West and Yubari.

FeaturePeek wants put an end to last-minute front-end design reviews

FeaturePeek, a member of the Y Combinator Summer 2019 cohort, wants to change the way companies review front end interfaces. Instead of kludging together reviews with screen shots or involving product managers and marketing people at the last minute, they want to make it easy to carry out reviews throughout the development cycle.

“FeaturePeek allows product teams and designers to give feedback on new front end work as the developers are working on it, and as a pull request is open. So that while it is still top of mind for the engineer, you can make critical changes, and then really focus on actual QA during your QA cycle,” co-founder Eric Silverman told TechCrunch

Like so many startups, the two co-founders, Silverman and long-time friend and former college roommate Jason Barry, started the company after experiencing the pain of last-minute reviews first-hand.

“We both started our careers at Apple, and then we were both at a SaaS, startup a few years ago, and noticed that every night or two before the release, the product team and designers start chiming in on our staging environments, saying, ‘Oh, this isn’t really what I meant,’” Silverman explained. This created frustration and a lot of last-minute changes just as the site was supposed to go live.

They understood that this system was fundamentally flawed through nobody’s fault. It’s just the way the process had developed over time, but they also knew everyone would benefit if they could get the product and marketing teams involved much sooner in the design cycle. “There wasn’t really good tooling to do these kind of reviews earlier in the cycle. Engineers have code review tools. [Others] have their own QA and staging environment, but those don’t really solve the right time to review new front-end implementations,” he said.

Being engineers, the founders built the tool right into GitHub. Once installed, after engineers commit their front end code to GitHub, FeaturePeek automatically spins up a review environment in the background. Once complete, any stakeholders can go in and comment on the design as the design is happening, and is still front of mind for the engineers, instead of at the last minute.

Silverman and Barry began developing the product in January after the company they had been working at shut down. They were encouraged by some Y Combinator alum to apply to YC and were pleasantly surprised to get an interview. They were even happier to be invited to join the Summer 2019 class.

As engineers, they are used to spending their days coding, but that’s not always the case anymore. As startup founders, they have to worry about sales, marketing and networking, and so many more responsibilities beyond the coding side of things. They say YC has really helped them understand those new roles.

They have been thinking about this project for over a year, and they say being in Y Combinator has helped them move beyond their own ideas and start to put together a viable business.

CircleCI closes $56M Series D investment as market for continuous delivery expands

CircleCI launched way back in 2011 when the notion of continuous delivery was just a twinkle in most developer’s eyes, but over the years with the rise of agile, containerization and DevOps, we’ve seen the idea of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) really begin to mainstream with developers. Today, CircleCI was rewarded with a $56 million Series D investment.

The round was led by Owl Rock Capital Partners and Next Equity. Existing investors Scale Venture Partners, Top Tier Capital, Threshold Ventures (formerly DFJ), Baseline Ventures, Industry Ventures, Heavybit and Harrison Metal Capital also participated in the round. CircleCI’s most recent funding prior to this round was $31 million Series C last January. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $115.5 million, according to the company.

CircleCI CEO Jim Rose sees a market that’s increasingly ready for the product his company is offering. “As we’re putting more money to work, there are just more folks that are now moving away from aspiring about doing continuous delivery and really leaning into the idea of, ‘We’re a software company, we need to know how to do this well, and we need to be able to automate all the steps between the time our developers are making changes to the code until that application gets in front of the customer,’” Rose told TechCrunch.

Rose sees a market that’s getting ready to explode and he wants to use the runway this money provides his company to take advantage of that growth. “Now, what we’re finding is that FinTech companies, insurance companies, retailers — all of the more traditional brands — are now realizing they’re in a software business as well. And they’re really trying to build out the tool sets and the expertise to be effective at that. And so the real growth in our market is still right in front of us,” he said.

As CircleCI matures and the market follows suit, a natural question following a Series D investment is when the company might go public, but Rose was not ready to commit to anything yet. “We come at it from the perspective of keeping our heads down trying to build the best business and doing right by our customers. I’m sure at some point along the journey, our investors will be itching for liquidity, but as it stands right now, everyone is really [focussed]. I think what we have found is that the bulk of the market is just starting to arrive,” he said.