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With $50M In Series B Funding, LinearB Is Looking At Optimizing Developer Workflow

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LinearB, the engineering efficiency platform, has secured $50 million in Series B funding led by Tribe Capital. The company aims to enable developers to spend more time building and solving problems and writing code by solving the productivity problems their teams face. LinearB hopes that by solving these problems developers will be able to ship more features and provide more value to their businesses.

“Developers get into software engineering because they love building and solving problems and writing code. And yet, if you look at the average developer that works for an engineering organization at a company, they might spend 1-2 hours a day actually writing code, which is not ideal. And this actually got worse after dev teams started working from home in 2020,” says Rocco Seyboth, Head of Community at LinearB, on the latest episode of TFiR Let’s Talk.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • WFH has impacted how developers spend their day with increased bottlenecks and idle time due to developers not being in close proximity to one another. Seyboth discusses how WFH is contributing to challenges with collaboration and productivity and how it is impacting developers’ time devoted to writing code.
  • LinearB is attracting a large community of DevOps teams, and has tripled the number they have helped in the last year alone. Seyboth discusses the growth of their DevOps community.
  • LinearB is solving problems that many developers face. He explains how LinearB’s developer workflow optimization is helping improve things not only for developers but also for engineering managers and executives.
  • The Series B funding now brings LinearB’s total funding to over $70 million in the last two years. Seyboth talks about some of the key investors in the company and how their expertise is adding value to the company.
  • LinearB is going all-in with developer workflow optimization. Similar to other vendors, LinearB already has elements of value stream management and engineering intelligence built into its developer workflow optimization but Seyboth explains how their approach is different and how what they are working on will improve developers’ lives.
  • LinearB decided early on that their growth model would be driven by community-led and product-led growth. Seyboth discusses the different outlets where they are building and interacting with their community and how their beliefs in investing in community are helping grow the company and business.

Guest: Rocco Seyboth (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Company: LinearB (Twitter)
Show: TFiR Newsroom
Keyword: Engineering Efficiency

About Rocco Seyboth: Rocco Seyboth leads community for LinearB and is the co-founder of the Dev Interrupted engineering leadership community. Rocco’s held leadership roles at major players like AWS and Symantec as well as numerous start-ups. He makes time to pay it forward by advising start-up founders and CEOs on go-to-market strategy, community building and product-led growth.

About LinearB: LinearB is an engineering efficiency tool that correlates data across your tools to identify bottlenecks and automate developer workflow optimization. This developer-first approach to automating engineering improvement uses data as the foundation for creating autonomous, self-improving dev teams. Engineering organizations use LinearB to reduce cycle time, improve planning accuracy and ensure on-time value delivery.

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Automated & Unedited Transcript

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya, and welcome to another episode of TFIR newsroom and today we have with us Rocco Seyboth, head of community at LinearB. Rocco it’s great to have you on the show.
Rocco Seyboth: Hey, Swapnil. Thanks for having me.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And today’s discussion is quite interesting. Also, first of all, congratulations for Series B funding, it’s around 50 million, if I’m not wrong. But there are a lot to talk about there. But before we talk about this funding and all those things, I want to talk a bit about the company. So, tell us what is LinearB all about?
Rocco Seyboth: Yeah. So, we’re trying to solve this core problem, which is that, developers get into software engineering because they love building, and they love solving problems, and they love writing code. And yet, if you look at the average developer that works for an engineering organization at a company, they might spend one to two hours a day actually writing code, which is not ideal. And this actually got worse after dev teams started working from home in 2020. We relied, as developers, we relied on that proximity to one another to work through collaboration and dependencies that we had with one another.

Our managers relied on that proximity to understand what was going on. And now that we’re all home, we have more noise in Slack or Teams, we have more meetings that we didn’t have before, we have more bottlenecks, we have more idle time. And so we were already only spending an hour or two a day writing code, now with these interruptions we’re actually spending less than that. And so, LinearB is trying to solve that problem, we want to help developers spend more of their time building and solving problems, and writing code, and in doing that we can solve this big team productivity problem so teams can actually ship more features, and provide more value for their business.

So, everyone’s trying to figure out how to make developers more productive, and that’s been our mission, and we take a unique approach to solving that problem, and we’ve been really lucky that we’ve been able to help a lot of dev teams.

Swapnil Bhartiya: You hit some nails there on the head which was, developers should have time to do things that they originally intended to do, which were like to build things, solve problem, not get stuck in a lot of things that don’t add any business value. And we have kind of seen a lot of interest in LinearB in the short time. So, first of all, let’s just flip it, you folks are doing a lot of things for DevOps committee. Talk about what kind of interests are you seeing from the DevOps community towards LinearB? What is driving that interest?
Rocco Seyboth: Yeah we’ve tripled the number of dev teams that we help in the last year. We raised Series A in March of last year, we had 1,500 dev teams using LinearB. Today as we raise this 50 million Series B, we’ve more than tripled that, we have 5,000 dev teams using LinearB, over 100,000 developers using LinearB, and we have really high weekly active usage, like almost 50% weekly active usage. The reason teams and developers use LinearB is, we take a novel approach to solving developer productivity problems and trying to give them more time to code.

So, if you look at the ecosystem of developer tools, there are a million developer tools that are focused on helping developers code better. Code better, code faster, code more securely, right? You have GitHub code pilot now is writing code with AI for developers, Sneak has integrated security directly into the developer workflow. And so you have a million tools focused on that one or two hours a day of coding. What we found though actually is that, a lot of the toil and the frustrations that developers experience, and a lot of the issues with team productivity and delivering value and features actually comes in that non-coding time.

Those six or eight hours a day when we’re stuck in meetings, or we are reading or reviewing code, we’re managing poll requests, we’re updating Jira tickets, we’re responding to Slack messages for status updates. And there is, for the amount of, massive amount of investment in time and energy and budget and tools, and solving that coding time, which is an hour or two a day, there’s almost no tools that are out there to solve that non-coding tasks. So we call it developer workflow optimization.

We look at all of the menial, annoying tasks that developers don’t like to do, that stop them from being productive and spending more time building, and we automate them with our developer workflow optimization tool. So for example we’ve fully automated the end to end process of collaborating on poll requests. So, about 50% of all our LinearB labs generated some proprietary research based on almost a million poll requests last year. And we found that about 50% of all poll requests were idle about half the time. A third of poll requests are idle almost 80% of the time.

That stops developers from merging their work and getting back to the next thing that they want to build, and it’s really frustrating. Another interesting thing that we found is that, about a third of all developer work happening in GitHub is not reflected in the issue tracker like Jira. Which means, basically the business doesn’t know anything about it and that creates this really vicious cycle. But of course developers don’t want to update Jira, that’s annoying, right?

They don’t want to log into Jira, they want to spend time in their IDE building. So developer workflow optimization takes all these tasks that stop them from doing what they want to do, and fully automates them. Developer workflow optimization lives in the edge where the browser is. So instead of having to go to a central location, we integrate directly into the IDE, and Slack, and Teams, and the browser where they work with GitHub. And what we’re finding is that by automating these tasks, we dramatically increase the team’s ability to efficiently provide value with high quality.

So, we find the teams using WorkerB is the name of our developer workflow optimization tool. Teams using WorkerB cut their software development cycle time in half after about 120 days. Their mean time to restore and their change failure rate, these are some door metrics that determine if you have an elite DevOps team, we find that those get dramatically cut. Deployment frequency, which is the rate that you’re able to deploy your work to production goes up dramatically. And all of these things lead to more predictability, higher planning accuracy, and those lead to engineering, delivering on promises to the business and delivering more features faster.

So LinearB not only provides that developer workflow optimization that helps developers improve from the bottom up, but of course we provide all those value stream metrics so engineering managers and executives can see the impact and the improvement that’s being made. So yeah, we’ve been really lucky that a lot of teams are finding this valuable.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Let’s talk about the biggest story today which is the Series B funding loan, 50 million. Tell us a bit about the background, who’s leading this, and what is the total funds you have raised so far?
Rocco Seyboth: So with this 50 million that we’re raising today it brings our funding up to over 70 million in the last two years. We brought some incredible investors into our Series A around a year ago, Battery Ventures, and 83 North, and we’re really thrilled that they’d come back to the Series B round. The Series B round this time is being led by Tribe Capital. And we’re really lucky to have one of their incredible partners, Sri Pangulur from Tribe, joining our board. We think that Tribe is a up and coming tier one VC, and they have incredible track record with other developer tools so, we’re thrilled to have Sri on the board and to have Tribe joining our journey.

We also brought in a strategic investment from Salesforce Ventures. So Salesforce is an organization that really, deeply understands workflow. And now that they are together with Slack and so much important developer workflow happens at the, what we call the chat edge, which is in Slack, we are really excited to have them in for the B round as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Can you tell us what are the areas that you folks, especially after this round of funding where you want to grow, what area you’ll be investing in. What are your plans?
Rocco Seyboth: Yeah. We’re going all in on developer workflow optimization. We are finding that, unlike other vendors who are attempting to solve the same problem, one thing that we found is, there are tools out there that call themselves a value stream management, or sometimes they call themselves engineering intelligence. These are really valuable tools and LinearB has elements of value stream management, and engineering intelligence built in. The problem that we’ve seen though is that, those tools attempt to solve the developer productivity problem with dashboards.

They extract information from Jira and GitHub, and they put it into dashboards to provide visibility to engineering leaders. And that’s really useful, and again, that’s something that LinearB does. But what we’ve learned in the last few years from working with 5,000 dev teams and 100,000 developers is, metrics and dashboards alone do not improve dev teams. True sustained improvement in engineering organizations starts with developers and comes from the bottom up, and the only way to improve developer productivity is with improving the workflow.

So, we are going to continue to provide great value to engineering leaders with our door metrics, our value stream metrics, but we are going all in on developer workflow optimization, because ultimately what those engineering leaders care about more than visibility is seeing improvement, and we believe that making this big bet in developer workflow optimization is how we’re going to do that. Now in order to make this bet, we need to double in size over the next six to nine months.

We are going from 50 to 100 people this year, and we have a lot of engineering and product hires that we need to make in our headquarters in Tel Aviv. We think our mission is going to be really exciting to a lot of developers. Because, developers can come to LinearB and build the next great set of developer tools that will literally change the workflow of every other dev team and developer in the world. So, it’s a really cool opportunity for developers.

And then we also need to double the sides of our go to market organization, which is mostly here in North America. We have a lot of customer success and sales hires that we need to make to keep up with the demand of LinearB. So, we’re looking for great people who are excited about our mission to use developer workflow optimization to positively impact every dev team in the world.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Thanks for explaining that. Now if you look at your title you have community in your title, so you’re head of community there. Of course we are talking about a company and stuff like that, but you are kind of also building a community around LinearB, or the kind of problem you’re trying to solve there. So can you also talk about the community around it? And I also like, if you can talk about how people can get involved and engage with the community.
Rocco Seyboth: LinearB made the decision, Dan and Ori, our two founders made the decision early on that our growth model was going to be entirely around community led and product led growth. And we put our money where our mouth is when it comes to community. So, the primary way that dev teams find out about LinearB is through our Dev Interrupted community. So, our co-founder and COO Dan Lines is hosting a podcast every single week that gets thousands of downloads a week, so thousands of engineering leaders listen to the podcast every week.

We have a Dev Interrupted Discord community that has thousands of members, engineering leaders talking to one another every day, helping one another with culture, and hiring, and improving developer workflow and productivity, and mentoring new leaders that want to go from being a developer to being a team lead, and one day a VP of engineering or CTO. That’s another huge part of our community. Another huge part of our community is our interact event.

Just two weeks ago, we hosted 1,700 engineering leaders from 99 countries around the world at our interact virtual event. We had incredible speakers, the VPs of engineering from American Express, GitHub, GitLab, Netlify, incredible leaders are part of this dev interrupted podcast and interact event. And so, yeah we’re all in on the community. It actually all started with Dan writing blogs and publishing on them on dzone.com. And his blogs were getting 50 and 100,000 views on DZone, and people were reaching out to him and saying, “We love these ideas you’re writing about, how can we get involved?”
And that led to the pod, and the interact event, and the Discord community. And then of course from community led growth goes to product led growth. We don’t want every engineering leader, every engineering organization, or every developer for that matter who’s interested in learning more about how to use door metrics, or value stream metrics, or how developer workflow optimization can improve their developer productivity. We don’t want them all to have to talk to a sales rep.

So, we have a free forever version of our product, one for developers and one for teams, that provides an incredible amount of value. You can get that value completely self-service in less than five minutes on our website, and you can use it for as long as you want without speaking to anybody in sales, or anyone for that matter. And about 50% of our customers that go on to be premium paying customers start from that free path. Because they just wanted to use it and see the value on their own time.

So, those beliefs are baked into how we’re growing the company, and we think in particular for developers and engineering organizations that sort of like show me, don’t tell me, or let me show myself actually, is really the way they like to try and buy.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Rocco thank you so much for taking time out today and not only talk about LinearB this investment but also, in general, how you are solving a larger problem for a much bigger ecosystem. And as usual I would love to have you back on the show, thank you.
Rocco Seyboth: Thanks Swapnil, great to be here.

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