Last week there was an interesting piece of news in the tech world when Firebase/Google acquired the Fabric product line and team from Twitter. Over 20+ years in the venture industry and hundreds of companies, this was a first for me: two companies we had invested in merged post their respective acquisitions by larger players. While it was unusual, nothing could make me happier than to see Crashlytics, which was acquired by Twitter in 2013, and Firebase, which was acquired by Google in 2014, join forces and continue the missions they held from their founding, and our original seed investments, of improving the lives and effectiveness of mobile developers. Huge congrats to Andrew, James, Jeff and Wayne and many thanks to both Twitter and Google for their support of both companies and allowing them to deliver on their common goals.
Rewind the clock to 2011. At the time my core investment focus was on developer-driven cloud platforms and an insight that companies that went to market with products that delighted developers could achieve significant adoption and break down many of the barriers seen by companies that focused on more traditional enterprise sales models. Within this broader theme (that also led to our investments in companies such as MongoDB, Stormpath and Apiary), it was clear at that time that the mobile developer was the new rock-star and thought leader and that most new application development spend was for mobile apps. But while mobile developers were leading the way, it was still too hard and technically challenging to quickly and easily get high quality apps into the market. Over the next year, this thesis led us to make seed investments behind two phenomenal teams. Both companies started out focused on very different markets – Crashlytics on crash reporting and Firebase on a platform to allow developers to easily build serverless back-end platforms. But both had a common goal of creating innovative technologies to help developers create amazing apps.
It’s always interesting to look back on your investment successes to see what if any common traits they shared. For Firebase and Crashlytics, there were many:
- Founded by young, passionate entrepreneurs[i] who had strong technology backgrounds, startup experience and an innate understanding of their target customer who were
- Creating platforms that addressed large and expanding markets with a
- Special “developer first” approach to working with the developer community that led to rapid adoption of their platforms which led them to
- Blow away their seed round metrics within less than a year and in turn raise Series A Rounds led by their initial investors and ultimately to being
- Acquired by leading technology companies less than a year after Series A rounds and these
- Acquirers provided significant incremental resources, let the teams run independently and continue to innovate under their own brands post the acquisitions
I could not be more proud of both of these teams. With millions of apps and hundreds of thousands of developers now using their technologies, what each has built is exceptional and I am 100% sure, will only get better as they join forces.
[i] It should also be noted in this time of anti-immigrant sentiment that in each company one of founders was born outside the US