Our Investment in DevZero: Taking Developers to Cloud Nine

I’m thrilled to share that DevZero has raised $26M in funding across its seed and Series A rounds. This announcement coincides with another major milestone: the general availability of DevZero’s Developer Environment Platform! Foundation Capital was the first investor in DevZero and led its $5.1M seed round in fall 2021. Having been on DevZero’s board of directors since day one, I wanted to offer a few thoughts on their product, why we invested, how we partnered, and the road ahead.

Signing the seed term sheet with Debo and Rob in San Francisco!

Revolutionizing How the World’s Developers Code

DevZero is on a mission to make software development seamless, collaborative, and secure. Its cloud-based platform streamlines tasks that today take months to complete to just a few hours — all this while improving security and reducing infrastructure spend. With the click of a button, developers can reserve on-demand, ephemeral, and ready-to-code development environments that are exactly like production.

Optimizing developer productivity and collaboration is mission critical for most enterprises. Yet, for the vast majority of the world’s 27 million developers, writing code remains akin to authoring a group essay with versioned Microsoft Word files before the advent of Google Docs. In this onerous process, developers start by pulling source code from their company’s cloud or on-prem environments to their personal computers. They then have to ensure their local device is correctly configured, which involves installing several third-party apps. Next up, they must run several software applications for compliance, IT, and security, which can strain resource-constrained laptops. When code is ready for review, further problems arise, as the new code often behaves differently between the developer’s laptop and the shared development environment. This inefficient workflow repeats until the code can finally be pushed to production. 

To avoid these headaches, the most sophisticated technology companies have created bespoke internal tools that allow developers to code in the cloud. Founded by former Uber and Meta engineers, DevZero is democratizing access to this tooling for the entire enterprise market. With DevZero, developers can code across any type of environment, including containers, virtual machines, Kubernetes, and serverless, which they can access via a browser or their preferred IDE. DevZero can be deployed via a self-hosted option or fully hosted SaaS offering on DevZero’s cloud. Once created, this environment can be shared across teams to speed up feedback loops and test end-to-end flows directly in the development stage. What’s more, security, DevOps, and IT teams can seamlessly roll out up-to-date security tooling and provide pre-configured environments across the entire engineering organization.

The Makings of a First-Class Team

In September 2021, my friend John Chen at Fika Ventures introduced me to two infrastructure and security engineers from Uber and Meta, Debo Ray and Rob Fletcher, who were considering starting a company to improve developer productivity. Across our Foundation Capital enterprise team, we had met over a dozen startups tackling this challenge, so I knew the type of founder and approach that could work. 

At a board dinner with Debo, Rob, and Brad from DevZero and John from Fika Ventures in August 2022

 

In our first meeting, Debo and Rob immediately stood out for their experience and insight. Critically, this duo was not only intimately familiar with the productivity and collaboration problems that developers faced, they also recognized the security, privacy, cost, and architecture implications that enterprise infrastructure teams cared about. 

Over the next month, I dove in deep to understand what made this founding team special and spoke to over a dozen of their former managers, colleagues, and classmates. Debo had previously sold a company to Twitter and was described as an “off-the-charts creative” engineer “who sought out the most difficult problems.” As one of the first members of Uber’s infrastructure team, Rob was recognized as a stellar manager who was “ten years younger than [his] peers” with a “loyal following.”

DevZero’s investors, advisors, and early employees at a dinner in January 2022 

 

Debo and Rob hadn’t fully fleshed out how to productize their idea, so we introduced them to prospective customers, including CTOs, CIOs, CISOs, and VPs of Engineering. Together, we worked to refine DevZero’s value proposition and go-to-market strategy. I also recruited infrastructure experts and friends like Dmitri Alperovitch (co-founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike) and Jon Gelsey (former CEO of Auth0 and Xnor.ai) as early advisors to help us brainstorm. By mid-October, Debo and Rob felt confident enough to jump in with both feet. They handed in their resignations, and we officially incorporated and funded the company. In winter 2021, they hired their first few engineers and started coding.

Ready for the Main Stage

Today, DevZero is twenty-people strong with a handful of initial paid customers. As infrastructure moves to the cloud, so too will the engineering pipeline. At Foundation Capital, we feel proud to support DevZero’s mission of making engineers happier and more productive and can’t wait to see what the world thinks as they launch publicly. Congratulations Debo, Rob, and the entire DevZero team! 

P.S. DevZero has offices in Seattle and San Francisco—and they’re actively hiring!