A Q&A with Codenvy co-founder and CEO Tyler Jewell. The San Francisco–based company was founded in 2012 and closed a $9 million Seed funding round in early January. Investors include Toba Capital, Auriga Partners and Angels.
SUB: Please describe Codenvy and your value proposition.
Jewell: Codenvy is the cloud development environment for coding, building and testing applications. We give developers up to an additional two hours of viable coding time each day through always-on domains, no software maintenance, parallel continuous compilation, collaboration, and mobility. We have an extensive partner ecosystem including Google, Amazon Web Services BeanStalk, GitHub, RedHat OpenShift and more.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Jewell: Currently, over 50,000 developers are using Codenvy. We focus on enterprise team development, with an emphasis on Java and web programming languages.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Jewell: Any vendor that emphasizes building applications on the desktop, particularly Eclipse, IntelliJ, and JDeveloper.
SUB: What differentiates Codenvy from the competition?
Jewell: I believe there are really five differentiators. First, Codenvy’s architecture is optimized for compiled languages such as Java. Secondly, our company has an on-premise version, Codenvy Enterprise, for organizations that want to bring centralized shared development behind their firewall. The third differentiator is that every facet of the system can be tailored, creating business development opportunities with software companies that require on-demand developer workspaces. Fourth, engineers have backed the entire system with a Hadoop analytics system that mines insights to make developers more productive, and finally, our company’s research and development office has 30 people, most of whom have worked together for nearly a decade. The team has been working on this project since 2009.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Jewell: This project started in 2009 as part of a French company, Exo Platform. The project incubated and got significant traction through 2012. In the middle of 2012, the Exo Platform board realized that cloud development was a significant opportunity, and we opted to spin off the technology, form a new venture, raise capital, and operate it independently.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Codenvy? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Jewell: The idea behind Codenvy emerged from our desire to increase productivity using the cloud. The model for application development hasn’t changed in over four decades. Despite the rapid gains of cloud computing over the past decade, developers, teams and organization still have relied upon the desktop IDEs [integrated developer environments] as their workbench of choice. Given the advantages of the cloud’s instant access, no download, and pay-as-you-go attributes, we were motivated to come up with a technology to take advantage of this cloud-powered, always-on workspace to improve developer productivity through innovation.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Jewell: Because we were working on a concept that forced developers to rethink their entire approach to developing applications, we needed a name that resonated with technology communities while at the same time triggered an emotion that we wanted to associate with our business. We realized that the most productive developers are the envy of others, and that led us to our name.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Jewell: What we are doing is foreign to most developers which have been conditioned to the same model of desktop development for decades. That is a lot of inertia to break through. The most challenging part of establishing Codenvy has been articulating and demonstrating that, a.) the old way is problematic, and b.) the new way is better. But we are doing a pretty good job of overcoming this issue and the adoption curve is getting steeper, so we feel that this will be a smaller obstacle with each passing month.
SUB: You just raised $9 million in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Jewell: Yes, we recently closed our first round of funding of $9M in venture capital, led by Toba Capital with Auriga Partners and a number of Angels participating. We plan to use these funds to help accelerate the company’s growth and increase our employee count.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Jewell: We believe this was a good time to raise the funding as the move to cloud computing has exploded. Over the past ten years, cloud computing has disrupted nearly every facet of IT. Nearly every app has been re-engineered to take advantage of the cloud. Our investor partners share our same passion for innovation and improved productivity. Cloud development, in particular, is still in its early adoption curve with low market penetration. We have a multi-year technology advantage and are an early mover in a market that could be sizably significant. Raising money helps us work towards grabbing an unfair share of that market.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Jewell: Codenvy is free for public projects, and has a monthly subscription for private projects and those that require larger builder and tester resources. As I mentioned earlier, we also offer Codenvy Enterprise, which is essentially a private cloud installation for organizations with strict compliance requirements. Also, we do business development partnerships with ISVs [independent software vendors] that require white-labeled, on-demand development environments.
SUB: What are your goals for Codenvy over the next year or so?
Jewell: Validation, traction, engagement, and revenues. All the good marks of any good early-stage company.
Codenvy – www.codenvy.com