Pinpoint — a system of intelligence for software engineering
We are thrilled that Pinpoint is finally out of stealth, 21 months after our first check, with a Series A funding round led by Ethan Kurzweil and our friends at Bessemer Ventures. This is an unusual “why we invested” post since we co-led the seed round in May 2017 with Storm Ventures and including Bloomberg Beta, Slack Fund, Social Capital, and Cherubic Ventures.
Since boldstart is in the heart of NYC, we work closely with IT executives from many of the largest companies. The familiar refrain we hear over and over is “we’re a software company that happens to be a “bank, insurance company, healthcare firm, ‘insert own industry.’” Despite the importance and rapid growth of these development teams, it is striking that there is still no analytics platform for software engineering, no true system of record like Salesforce to understand efficiency, cost, and performance. Given the size and scope of this problem, we were actively seeking to make an investment in this area. We met several companies but all of them were going bottom-up, starting with the individual developer. While that is a preferred route to go in most software organizations, we truly believed that someone had to go top down, building a system of intelligence driven by data science and machine learning to solve this problem.
Enter Jeff Haynie and Nolan Wright. When we first met them in April 2017 (thanks to Ryan Floyd/Storm Ventures), we started our conversation with, “we know what you are trying to do, but it’s really tough to pull off.” They agreed and said that every other approach was focused on the bottom up developer and their approach was different and it had to start at the top with the IT executive and eventually work its way down to department level heads. In addition, while there were a number of systems of activity like Github, GitLab, Jira, SonarQube, etc., these still only provided a siloed view of the activity in a software development organization. Their vision was to build a system of intelligence driven by machine learning to provide executives with an ability to align their strategic goals with their development teams. Pinpoint was born out of this frustration along with their numerous conversations with IT executives at some of the largest companies where they talked about rolling budgets and capacity planning if they had software like Jeff and Nolan envisioned.
Their passion was evident as they were living with this lack of visibility for many years at the various startups they had built. As they kept scaling these organizations, they kept telling themselves they would get back to this problem one day as there had to be a better way to track and predict delivery times for software development .Within 2 days, the team flew out to NYC and we introduced them to 3 of our IT advisors, one of whom was Marty Brodbeck, CTO of Shutterstock and formerly CTO Pearson, Diageo, and Pfizer. When asked if he had this problem, Marty gave us a resounding yes as he had one of the members of his team manually pulling out information from the various software systems to provide rudimentary metrics on a weekly basis. After meeting with Jeff and Nolan, Marty was quite excited and ready to dive in deeper.
Here’s what got us excited in 2017 and continues to get us excited in 2019:
- Solving a huge PAIN that has not been solved yet — as every company becomes a software company, executives need a common language and idea of how one of their biggest HR spends is performing. To date no system has provided that framework or visibility, and if someone could build the system of record for engineering efficiency like Salesforce did for CRM, this could be massive.
- Founder-market fit — Super experienced, previous co-founders of Appcelerator with exit to Axway, and had amazing blend of engineering, product, GTM experience, hunger, and humility. Their last company was a market leader but not a smashing success and what they learned from that experience has helped them build an even better foundation at Pinpoint. This company was also born out of their own pain and they were clearly on mission to solve this.
- Rapid time to value — their product would require no cultural change to how developers worked, utilizing the systems already in place to extract data and provide learnings on top. Data could be ingested in minutes to hours to immediately provide value. We also love companies that can automate manual, spreadsheet based processes with dynamic, intelligent ones — the pain was evident and verified from a number of IT execs
Here’s the current iteration of one of many Pinpoint dashboards which is now live with a handful of select customers. They’ve come a long way since their initial 12 slide deck, and we are super excited to tell the world about our partnership with the Pinpoint team.