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Dev Community Inc. Raises $11.5M Series A (dev.to)
85 points by johnxie 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments





Congrats to dev.to on the fundraise. This feels like a positive and exciting development for open-source companies built in the open.

dev.to is a unique and interesting service -- a company built in the open on open source technology, and has grown a large community based largely on that open-source culture.

A discussion I'd like to see from the dev.to founders is how they plan to evolve what is primarily an open-source community into a software company that operates that community. This seems like an important discussion to have, especially for an open company, as the concerns/goals/responsibilities of the dev.to community are different than those of the dev.to software company (the company that will sell software to other companies).

A few questions that come to mind:

* To what extent is the dev.to community values/rules/etc are codified somewhere? * What happens in the event of an acquisition, or if a new leadership/management team is brought in? * To what extent are the dev.to community values the values of the company, vs the values of the current company leadership? (this point is sticky, as all companies are a reflection of the people who operate it, yet, "company culture" is a very much a thing)

I'm optimistic and excited to see how dev.to navigates these challenges. It's a unique opportunity to experiment with new models not yet seen in venture-backed companies or commercial enterprises in general.


> dev.to is a unique and interesting service -- a company built in the open on open source technology

I don't want to be negative and please correct me if I'm wrong but didn't they only open the platform well after they grew to a substantial size?

I don't know exact dates but I vaguely remember maybe reading a post there where the main guy said the platform wasn't open until well down the line.

It doesn't really matter in the end, this is more of a question on the accuracy of openness.


A lot of good things here. I think I'll try to address a lot of this in an upcoming blog post or two. I'd get into it now but I'm a bit tired from an exhausting day of making this announcement.

You can follow me at https://dev.to/ben to get notice when I get a chance to flesh some of this out publicly.


I wish you would disable the so called social login (twitter, github) and just use passwords with 2fa, or at least would add selfhosted Gitlab integrations for open source developers

https://gitlab.gnome.org https://gitlab.freedesktop.org https://salsa.debian.org

just to name a few


Ditto. Congrats to this team. Good people and good for the community.

Dev's rise parallels the early rise of Medium: both the good (lots of organic use/praise), and the bad (signal-to-noise ratio is very low from the content I've seen shared outside the site). Given this funding announcement, that's not a bad thing from their perspective. To Ben's credit, there were some Medium-esque growth hacks earlier in Dev's history, which were removed after I pointed them out.

The recent implosion of Medium due to user-unfriendly decisions likely helped Dev out, so there's a bit of good luck there too.


I haven't heard of it before and I'm trying to figure it out from the home page, but it just seems like a subreddit for software developers? I assume there's more to it, but..?

Honestly, that sums it up well enough. But the devil is in the details.

Ah I had wondered where all those Twitter accounts liking and retweeting each other had got to.

I'm pro Dev.to, but also pro Medium. What's nice about them both is that they are differentiated incentive structures so it does create actual choice for readers and authors.

But, I'm not sure what implosion on Medium you're talking about. That sounds like the talking points that two publications were using as they left medium (HN and FCC). But there was a shady backstory there and a lot of posturing to set themselves up to be independent.

But those publications leaving just ended up leaving a temporary gap that other publications quickly filled. Towards Data Science is now doing well north of 10 million page views a month. That's twice the size of Dev.to.

And I helped launch a new publication in May, Better Programming, that just crossed 4 million views per month.

I think when people here say that Medium decisions are user unfriendly that they are only seeing half of the picture. The paywall in particular is very author friendly. Now Medium brings authors both money and readers and you barely have to work for it. That's a good deal and creates incentives for a lot more and better writing. That end result is user friendly.


I'm more referring to individual Medium contributors (which is more analogous to Dev's model) than publications. I haven't seen a dev-oriented Medium.com article pop up on Twitter/Reddit/HN in a very long time (I've seen much less TDS too in the past year, and pretty much nothing from FCC or HN since they went independent; I probably should research that further). Admittingly, that's anecdata.

However, "the paywall in particular is very author friendly" is incorrect. If you want to monetize, sure, but the majority of people I know went to post on Medium in the first place did it to share personal knowledge with an easy-to-use UI/UX and get feedback, not to generate money.


I appreciate you saying anecdata. Yeah, definitely, it's a mixed bag. My hard data says someone's still writing to generate all these page views. But I don't have any way to help expand on your anecdata about which authors think it's a bad deal and which think it's a good deal. I only meet the ones that think it's a good deal.

This is great news. I've been a member of the community for a while and it's really positive in nature, a good mix of new developers and experienced. I like the culture of the people there and the values of the founders.

Their success ultimately will hinge on:

1. Monetization (obviously)

2. Their ability to scale (I hope to help with this at some point)

3. Their ability to maintain the current culture.

If they're able to scale out their infrastructure as people come in, find ways to make money without annoying people, and maintain the culture they have right now, the sky's the limit.

I don't know a lot about the leadership other than what I've seen on the site and following them on Twitter, but they seem very capable of doing it. I have high hopes for them.

To me, culture is the biggest challenge.

There are communities on the internet that I refuse to do more than lurk in. I don't join communities to have flame wars (do they still call them that?), pissing contests, or play gatekeeper to new folks. But I see it all over, and it drives people like me out.

I just want to talk tech, teach what I know and learn from what others know. I'm the kind of user you want on your platform. I won't drive people away or cause you legal problems. I'll help people and bring in more. But I will absolutely BAIL when it starts getting political, or toxic folks are allowed to sling crap everywhere. There are a lot of people just me that will simply walk away. No big farewell post or calling people on social media. Folks like me just walk away.

So running a community you have to make choices as to what you'll tolerate and stick to it, it's a thankless and stressful job and you don't really have much control. I believe that's more challenging than things like establishing a revenue model or scaling. I just hope they can maintain what they currently have now. HN has done a good job over the years keeping their stuff moderated, so it can be done.

Oh, and hopefully they don't do too much of this voting/karma crap like Reddit. Invisible internet points are what's destroyed their culture if you ask me.


Given that it took the open source release and PRs from contributors to get rid of the dark patterns on the site, I'm (as an outsider) not that optimistic about the "without annoying people".

There's always going to be annoying people in any community. It depends on how much you let them take over. HN for instance has its share but the mods don't let them run the place.

I'm not really talking about people in the community (although that's of course also an important point, but I haven't spent enough time on dev.to to judge that), but design decisions like fake notifications for "you're not logged in! create an account now", signup prompts styled exactly like comments interspersed with the actual comments, ..., which were added before the open-source release.

(and SPA things like breaking the browser back button, although I don't think that it's intentional)


IANAL, but I think they should use "DEV.to team" or "DEV<insert-suffix-here> team" instead of DEV for their branding to prevent it sounding like FOOD team against FOOD industry.

Branding has been the bane of our existence, we're gradually figuring it out.

Luckily our longterm plans revolve around helping other people use our software under _their_ name.


Their signup says "Open Source Forever" but to log in you have to pick between two proprietary platforms. I can't tell if that's irony or intentional.

Their business model sounds interesting to me. If anyone has used any of their software, I'd like to hear more about your experiences.

We have some private alpha users, but mostly the re-usable software isn't quite there yet.

We've been mostly focused on phase 1 which is our own use of the software, but have a roadmap to get more folks on the underlying platform in 2020.


I never understood having Co-CEOs. Why not make Peter CRO or similar, and have a clearer structure.

What if Halpern were to get hit by a bus? Then there would be no CEO.

The Oracle structure of co-CEOs leaves a company without any chance of instability, and works well for what it is.


Then the board finds a new CEO. How do you make decisions if the co-CEO's disagree?

Oracle gets by just fine.

As a non programmer who doesn't use dev.to, can anyone ELI5 what is dev.to and what is it's value prop/attracted funding?

Talking about Dev.to on HN feels strange. Maybe I'm on the wrong forum.

How so?

Omg. I read the topic and was great! yeas!

And then i tought. Why are all comments about the platform. I really read "Docker ... Inc. raised money". But clearly investors are stupid. dev.... m(




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