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The DEV Team

Special Announcement From the DEV Founders

ben profile image Ben Halpern with Jess Lee (she/her) and Peter Kim Frank ・4 min read

We are excited to announce that our company, Dev Community Inc., has raised a new round of funding. Last year, we raised ~$950k from a group of developer-focused angel investors and funds. This new round is an $11.5M Series A led by Mayfield, with participation from a few of our previous investors such as OSS Capital and Charge VC.

We want to tell you all about the deal itself, and what this means for the future of DEV.

The structure of the deal

Partnering with an investment firm is a major decision, so we prioritized working with people that saw eye-to-eye with our values and long-term ambitions. Mayfield has a track-record of supporting open-source companies; for example, they led Hashicorp’s Series A back in 2014. We came to them with a plan that centers around supporting open source, and we’re confident that Mayfield will make great partners in this regard.

Peter, Jess, and I will maintain majority control of the board, something we feel is important at this stage to ensure the community’s interests are always put first. With that being said, finding supportive and experienced new board members was also a key factor that attracted us to working with Mayfield. With that, we are welcoming Navin Chaddha and Vivek Saraswat to fill out our board. Navin is an extremely accomplished investor and entrepreneur, and leads the entire Mayfield firm. Vivek brings super relevant experience from his time at VMWare, Docker, and Amazon (AWS). As we encounter challenges along the way, we now have these two on speed dial.

Some more details about company structure: Jess, Peter and I have not talked a lot about our specific titles, but this announcement feels like as good a time as any to provide a bit more detail. Jess serves as COO of our organization, while Peter and I act as Co-CEOs. Jess typically leads internal operations, hiring plans, and team organization. I spend most of my time on our long-term vision, product decisions, and community leadership; whereas Peter focuses more on partnerships, growth, and new opportunities. This operating arrangement reflects how we’ve come to work together for years. Jess has also taken on the duty as our representative in a newly-formed compensation committee alongside Navin. Jess and Navin will get together to have the final decision on executive salary and related items.

The DEV Business model

Now that we’ve raised a larger round of funding, it’s natural to ask questions about DEV’s business model.

We have always been proud of the fact that we have generated revenue in ways that are value-add to the community. We have a useful and unobtrusive classified listings section, ongoing high level sponsorship relations, and other community-oriented services in the works. We continue to establish healthy sponsorships that act as a truly useful community resources.

These services, however, do not represent the end game in our business model. As an open source platform, we serve the community through transparency and collaboration. Our true north star has long centered around this model, and the Series A allows us to plan years ahead in order to execute.

I wrote about that vision recently:

The most important point to understand is that we are growing our business in a way that does not rely on a massive collection of user data. Our leverage will be centered on our ability to deliver and support software that powers a more distributed and community-driven Internet — not maxing out the attention and data of individual platform users.

We look forward to enabling independent entrepreneurs, as well as large organizations, to build standalone online communities on top of the DEV open-source software. We will host and support these new communities following the models of successful commercial open-source companies such as Automattic, Hashicorp, GitLab, and others.

What else is new?

Of course, this funding opportunity comes on the heels of a year of great growth. We now serve about 5.5 million unique visitors per month, up from about 1.5 million this time last year. More than 250,000 developers have registered to our service in order to customize their experience, create content, and participate alongside the broader community.

We launched ecosystem-oriented partnerships in order to help users control their content and data more seamlessly. Some of these initiatives are launched, some continue to be in the works. We also served as co-presenters of Hacktoberfest, the world’s largest celebration of open source.

We have been hiring

We recently welcomed a few new team members — Molly, Jacob and Avery — bringing our team up to 13 people total. We are also in the midst of interviewing amazing candidates to bring on a few more team members. We hire on a cyclical basis and will be opening up a new hiring period early next year. If you are interested in becoming part of our team, we hope you keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, you are more than welcome to contribute to our open source goals via our GitHub repo.

GitHub logo forem / forem

For empowering community 🌱

Thank you for being part of a journey that started as a Twitter account which I registered in 2014. We promise to always put the community first and push our industry forward.

Happy coding!

Discussion

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peter profile image
Peter Kim Frank Author

We are so thankful to have found partners that truly believe in our long-term vision for the community and open-source platform. This is truly just the beginning for DEV, and we look forward to committing ourselves even more deeply to building open-source software that powers safe, modern, and independent communities.

A huge thank you to everyone here in the DEV Community for being part of this journey as readers, commenters, authors, and open-source contributors!

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Jess Lee (she/her) Author

The growth of DEV is only possible because there are so many wonderful developers here who share our belief that the software industry can be inclusive to everyone, and that community is how that happens. We can't wait to keep working with all of you on this journey!

We’re also so excited to be working with the team from Mayfield, who have already proven themselves to be deeply supportive and helpful partners. It’s amazing to have Navin and Vivek just a text message, phone call, or email away.

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Ben Halpern Author

In reflection on the success of this endeavor thus far...

This whole thing was really built by newbies. We've since hired a couple more experienced folks, but the work that it took to get the project off the ground was done by people brand new to software.

Our team of code newbies brought energy, perspective, and a willingness to learn.

The most successful sports franchises cultivate a scouting system and train the players they draft. There is an elitism in some tech companies that doesn't give any room for capable juniors to thrive. I'm happy we never felt that way, and I think it has paid off in our thoughtfulness, retention, and general growth as a company.

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Molly Struve (she/her)

I am so excited that we have been given the opportunity to continue to grow the DEV community and make the software and technology world more accessible and inviting for EVERYONE!

Many of you know it was a hard decision for me to leave my previous company and join DEV, but I joined it bc I believe wholeheartedly in the mission. Having investors to stand by our side that see the vision as well is amazing and we are incredibly lucky.

To all of the amazing folks here at DEV, whether you are an avid reader, occasional commenter, or dedicated blogger, you make this community what it is, THANK YOU to you all!!!

❤️️❤️️❤️️

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Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

TL;DR

So for those looking for the TL;DR I believe this is what Ben is saying:

  • They raised $11.5M
  • They all have fancy new chief titles
  • The business model is not about selling the platform's data
  • The business model is selling support for the open-source platform.

P.S. I saw no CTO title. Did you leave that title vacant for me? 🙃

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Ben Halpern Author

Yup, that sums it up. And to be clear, these have always been our titles, we just didn't have them listed everywhere. Jess's role in the comp committee is new.

And to add to the business model stuff, we'll continue the on-site monetization in the various ways we're already doing so, like sponsors, listings, and new stuff to come, but that's not what we're looking to max out. To us, making open source our core business model is the healthiest approach and the one where we can deliver the most net good with our time and energy. We also have learned through the past couple years of experience that this is be a great market to be in.

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Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

To help clarify questions of Axel and Mike:

The business model is selling support for the open-source platform.

making open source our core business model

Let us say ExamPro wanted to run their own version of DEV.to that is focused around Cloud Computing instead of Developers. Since the DEV.to platform is open-source so we can pull the DEV.to repo, provision the servers and maintain the running servers.

Let us say we have no interest in being involved in all this labour. We could pay DEV.to to provision these servers and keep them up to date with the latest codebase.

As more companies want their own DEV.to-like communities they might have specific features they'd like. These features may not be core to what DEV.to would want for their platform. These feature-requests could be turned into plugins (like WordPress) and companies can purchase them.

Another business model is how to manage and grow a community (not from a technical perspective.) They could provide training in the form of webinars, videos or 1-on-1 time or consultancy on strategy.

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Axel Rauschmayer

making open source our core business model

Can you explain what that means? It sounds like it’s good for the community but not necessarily for the long-term financial viability of the company.

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Mike Healy

The business model is selling support for the open-source platform.

I don't understand what this means either.

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pavelloz profile image
Paweł Kowalski

Think gitlab, redis, elasticsearch, docker and probably 100s of more im not aware of.

They are open source. You can use them for free. They make good buck from people who have bigger needs.

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Jacob Evans

So much awesome, this transparency and support to the community is one of the reasons I am obsessively supportive and ardent in my sharing, usage, and hype(sharing the website with coworkers or anyone for that matter).

I almost exclusively use dev.to for blogging (I plan on making my own but tieing them together)

So glad to see the things continue and going strong, the amazing vision and mission, that drew me here when I was fed up with other places selling out and becoming toxic environments for sharing knowledge. DEVCommunity, @thepracticaldev , and Dev.to was an oasis that I decided to never leave.

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Ben Halpern Author

Thank you Jacob!!

I was fed up with other places selling out and becoming toxic environments for sharing knowledge.

I think this speaks both to why some people find their way here, and also fundamentally why we had to put the work in to get here in the first place. While it is possible for any conversation on DEV to turn toxic, because with emotions and misunderstandings, we work really hard to make it the exception in the dialog here, rather than the norm.

All in all we just want to make the ecosystem healthier for everyone, and we've really worked to ensure we can focus on a business model that is in alignment with that, rather than working against it.

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Jacob Evans

I certainly believe in the mission and I definitely believe in you and your team's passion for that mission.

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Nick Taylor (he/him)

Congrats! It’s been amazing to see the community and platform grow. 👏🎉

plant growing

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Vivek Saraswat

Vivek from Mayfield here. I'm really humbled and excited to be working with Ben, Jess, Peter, and the rest of the DEV Community team on the mission to build more inclusive communities with the power of open source.

I wrote a bit about how I first got excited about DEV and why I believe building an open-source powered community built on positivity and openness really matters here: linkedin.com/pulse/why-i-believe-p...

Hoping to contribute to the mission with some of my past product leadership experiences from Docker, VMware, and AWS, along with working closely as an investor with Mayfield portfolio companies like Hashicorp, Rancher, and Volterra.

Now that it's official maybe it's time for me to start posting articles on DEV too =)

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Now that it's official maybe it's time for me to start posting articles on DEV too =)

Most definitely ❤️

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Salli Figler

Congratulations to 3 extremely insightful, smart, hardworking people and all Dev members who will also benefit greatly by what’s to come. There is something for everyone on Dev.to and I am glad to be taking the journey with you!

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Paul

I've watched free services crop up and realize that they would eventually die without some sort of monetization. Pushbullet comes to mind; Medium also. There seems to be this willingness to remove aspects of services from the free tier to paid. Users get angry and leave; the userbase diminishes. Ad infinitum.

DEV is the exception. Its founders show self-awareness that seems oddly lacking among other services, whether they're competitors or not. Developers are users, too; it should be pretty plain that throwing users under the bus, so to speak, is always a bad idea. The DEV team has never lost sight of that. ❤️

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Ben Halpern Author

Well that is very kind of you.

To speak to some things that help us be just a bit different, although we're fallible just like everybody else.

  • Me, @jess , and @peter are genuinely three very different people. We role in different crowds and sort of care about different things outside of work. All three of us really have a tendency to strive for justice one way or another, but are different enough to eyeball blind spots.
  • We're definitely outsiders in a way, with just enough insider knowledge. We're not based in Silicon Valley and we're not really software industry schmoozers. We sort of do our own thing.
  • We came around at a good time in terms of a lot of other people caring about genuinely doing right by our users, and especially those most vulnerable. Hard to say if that would have mattered as much ten years ago. If it didn't matter to the community it's hard to say it could matter quite so much to us.
  • This whole thing gained traction as a side project before we made it into a business. With a lot of time to make some solid enduring choices before there was as much pressure, we laid a really solid foundation.
  • We lucked out with some incredibly committed and principled early team members like @maestromac and @andy who have been with us a long time. And that's stayed true with the rest of the folks who have since joined up. Our own team would be the first ones to object to anything that was blatantly the wrong thing to do.
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dAVE Inden

This is so awesome! This community is amazing and I am always inspired by how DEV can serve as an example of how one can make an online space safe, inclusive, and supportive to its users. I tell people all the time how DEV is the best online space I have experienced. Knowing that collecting user data isn't the driver of financial success makes me so happy and proud to be a member of this community. Keep up the great work! I am looking forward to hearing more about the journey of DEV.

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Stuart Miller

Congrats on the raise, looking forward to what the future holds for DEV.

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Ben Halpern Author

Thanks Stuart!

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Jeremy Morgan

Congratulations. Tech needed a community like this for a long time. I really enjoy being here so I'm happy to see it flourish. Not only that I'm happy about this because it's awesome to see good things happen to good people.

Cheers for DEV!!

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Yaser Al-Najjar

Wow... the DEV team is working hard af and really deserves all the best!

LONG LIVE DEV ❤️️

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Yechiel Kalmenson

Congrats team!!!

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Ben Halpern Author

Thanks for the ongoing awesomeness as part of the community Yechiel!

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Robin Kretzschmar

Congratulations to the team and of course to ourselves as community!
I'm really enjoying to be a part of this awesome community.

Having experienced investors on board is a great way to add to the team and the community.

Sometimes its hard to describe this community to someone I recommend it to because there are so many aspects of how DEV makes a difference ranging from the core values of open source and transparency over a great technology stack and foresight all the way to all this awesome content here.

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RODRIGUEZ

I remember how I discovered you through your stickers giveaway in Twitter. It was like 3 years ago if I recall correctly. Keep going!

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Peter Kim Frank Author

Wow! We learned so much through that sticker giveaway experience. Hope you still have the stickers! :)

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Muhammad Arslan Aslam

Please do that again. I bought a new laptop and it still has a lot of space for new stickers :D

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RODRIGUEZ

Yep! I still have them in my laptop :)

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Bhupesh Varshney 👾

Got Team DEV 💟

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joon

A sincere congrats on the funding.
I start and finish every day scrolling through the app, looking through interesting or useful-looking topics.
I will attempt to contribute to the project as first priority as soon as my programming skills are up to par.

Thank you so much for existing, and please continue to do so.

  • A very satisfied user
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morgana

That is really exciting! Congrats to you all 😄

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Pandita

Congratulations!! Lots of happy hugs for everyone in the team 🥳🎉

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Ryan Palo

Congratulations! I can’t wait to watch DEV grow even more!

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Matthias 🤖

Congratulations! Awesome news 🥳

Must be a great feeling to create such an awesome community, start a business out of it and actually making money with it!

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Ben Halpern Author

It is a great feeling.

The idea to start the project really came from a moment of clarity, like... "whoa Ben, slow down and build something you care about."

I explicitly gave myself a ten year window for success, rather than feeling I had to make it work over night and get burnt out if it didn't. I also slowed down and didn't just work with the first people to show interest. Having @jess and @peter as co-founders is really the perfect group for us. I can't imagine trying to go this on my own and I can't imagine doing it with just one of them as co-founder.

We also have folks on our team who are just sooo bought in. The fact that we have made support, moderation and safety such an important priority is not strictly top down direction. We have folks on the team who really really really empathize with our members and I really couldn't imagine doing it any other way.

So yeah, we're enjoying it, even though it can definitely be stressful at times too.

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Jacob Herrington (he/him)

Excited to be part of the team and part of the community. Building cool stuff is fun.

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Joel Varty

Well done! Here’s to more of the same kind of great community building that has brought so many folks here to collaborate and share. I will always support a positive environment that is kind and welcoming.

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Daragh Byrne

I'm excited for you. The Dev platform has been a shot in the arm for the software development community and has been driving positive change for as long as I've known about it. I wish you all much success with your future endeavours!

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Paweł Kowalski

The most important point to understand is that we are growing our business in a way that does not rely on a massive collection of user data. Our leverage will be centered on our ability to deliver and support software that powers a more distributed and community-driven Internet — not maxing out the attention and data of individual platform users.

I hope this point will stay relevant and you wont be crossing out "Don't do evil" couple years from now.

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Max Ong Zong Bao

Congrats on your amazing growth and latest fund raising round.

I'm impressed and amazed on Dev continuous focus on providing a home for all developers over the world.

By providing something of value instead of the usual fluff that I encounter from startups.

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Clara

Congrats! That is amazing news!
Definitely keeping an eye out for new job openings!

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Ben Halpern Author

Awesome! As soon as the new listings go live, we'll sure it's visible on DEV somewhere.

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Jack Harner 🚀

Wow. Massive Growth in both Users & Capital. Super excited to see the trend continue and see what DEV turns into even a year from now!

Great work everyone!