Many of us are working in distributed environments these days, and in the best scenarios, it might actually have improved rather than impeded our productivity. Today, a company that has built technology that taps into that concept as it applies to computing is announcing a large round of funding to boost its growth after a strong year of business.
Incredibuild, an Israeli startup that provides a way for organizations to implement distributed computing architecture to speed up the processing needed for intensive tasks like software development by tapping into a company's network of idle CPUs, has picked up $140 million in funding.
"Startup" might be overstating what Incredibuild is: Yes, it's a privately backed tech company, but it has been around since 2000, and although it counts substantial companies like gaming giants Epic (the company behind Fortnite), Microsoft and Nintendo, as well as Amazon, Citibank, Adobe, Disney, Intel and Samsung among its 800 customers, it's been somewhat quiet and under the radar.
The company will be using the funding to continue building out its technology and its business model to apply to a wider range of enterprises and use cases.
CEO Tami Mazel Shachar said in an interview that the key concept that Incredibuild created was an efficient way of tapping CPU power in a network of computers regardless of whether they are on-premises or in the cloud. That technology is priced on a per-use basis, but implementing it, Shachar said, brings down a company's overall computing and equipment costs, and can speed up builds by 8X.
As you can see here, Incredibuild is not available to punters in easy-to-understand tiers: you need to get in touch with the company to sign up. The plan will be to devise and list new pricing tiers, including a freemium tier to bring in more and smaller developer teams.
This round of financing is the first substantial outside investment made in the company since it was picked up by private equity firm Fortissimo in 2018. It comes from a single backer, Insight Partners, and represents a partial spinning out of the business, effectively back into startup mode. From what we understand, Incredibuild was already generating a lot of cash -- hence no big fundraising history -- and while it is not disclosing its valuation now, we understand from reliable sources that it is between $300 million and $400 million.
Incredibuild was started by two engineers, Uri Mishol and Uri Shaham, who first thought of the concept of speeding up software development processing through a distributed model when they were still in the Israeli army, working in the special forces and finding the processing times for their work to be much too slow, even on the most advanced machines (both are no longer actively involved in the company, although both support it, Shachar said).
The company found early traction with games companies, whose heavy use of media required lots of code processing; longer-term, other companies that deal with graphics, AR, VR, artificial intelligence and other work-intensive loads came to the company as well.
Of course, there are a number of other solutions being built to speed up workloads, from improving processors on devices, through to other DevOps and workload plays such as CircleCI, CloudBees and many more. Nor is distributed computing a new concept: it's the basis of a lot of peer-to-peer architectures such as those devised early on by the likes of BitTorrent, and it's equally something that has been taken up by the blockchain community.
Interestingly, Shachar told me that Incredibuild itself does not own any patents on what it has built.
"The barriers are in the technology itself," she said. "At the end of the day, the IP is in how good we do what we do. It would take many years to try to copy what we have built and we are building on those hooks more now." It's also adding in more integrations to improve and expand on all of the use cases for its technology.
For now, the basic idea is predicated on networks of computers that are idle within a specific team of users, and there are no plans for bringing that concept into a wider network of users as you might find in P2P networking models. The privacy issues, for one thing, are a non-starter, Shachar noted.
But, she hinted that there are some concepts in the works to improve processing power using its technology for some of its current partners' customers. It's interesting to remember that Microsoft, owner of Azure, and Amazon, owner of AWS, are both in Incredibuild's client list. Watch this space.
Insight is notable for its other investments in DevOps -- its portfolio includes both containerization leader Docker and JFrog -- and so it will also be interesting to see whether we see more alignment with these.
“We firmly believe that Incredibuild has built a crucial technology for any business that wants to develop better software, radically faster,” said Teddie Wardi, managing director at Insight Partners, in a statement. “With our long history of investing in the development ecosystem, we are confident that Incredibuild will continue to innovate and build upon their recent momentum.” Both Wardi and managing director Lonne Jaffe, as well as senior associate Brad Fiedler, are joining Incredibuild’s board.
Fortissimo is staying on as a shareholder in the company.
“Fortissimo bought Incredibuild in 2018 with belief in the enormous potential of distributed processing,” said Yoav Hineman, Partner at Fortissimo Capital and board member of Incredibuild, in a statement. “The investment by Insight Partners is a great milestone in delivering unparalleled acceleration for software developers.”
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