Why We Invested in DevZero

John Chen
Fika Ventures
Published in
3 min readJan 24, 2023

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At Fika, we typically see two types of markets that startups pursue. There are those that are secret — they appear small or sleepy on the surface, but end up being surprisingly big when the right founder cracks it open. And then there are others, where the opportunity is clearly obvious and enormous on day one, but the problem appears so difficult and hairy that only the bravest of souls would attempt to solve it.

DevZero is the latter. And today, we are excited to announce DevZero’s launch out of stealth, and Fika’s participation in both the Seed and Series A rounds totaling $26M.

We are excited about DevZero for a number of reasons:

  1. The pain point is nearly universal, and the surface area is vast — in a world where almost every part of the stack is moving to the cloud, dev environments are still largely dependent on a developer’s local machine. With the exception of the mega cap companies like Facebook and Google, we were shocked to discover that even the most sophisticated growth stage software companies in the heart of Silicon Valley were running their dev environments on laptops, relying on local compute, and needing to be updated, maintained, configured, and locked down usually by large and expensive devops and security team. If the most sophisticated tech companies face this issue, this means that the majority of the 26.2M developers worldwide do as well, making this a massive opportunity.
  2. The cost of failure (or even the status quo) is high — we love software categories where there are high stakes, but where the magicians behind the scenes perform a critical but sometimes thankless job (i.e. no one calls to congratulate you when it’s working, but everyone calls to complain when it’s not). Dev environments are one of those categories. DevZero estimates that up to 40% of a developer’s time is wasted trying to troubleshoot and configure their dev environments and tooling. This ranges from the 5–10 minutes lost daily from downloading the latest software updates, or sometimes the hours lost when there are major issues that require a new patch, or the constant developer friction when developing and testing against other dependencies. This developer toil means less time coding, and more frustration.
  3. Opinionated but loyal users — perhaps only after product designers, developers are likely some of the pickiest about their toolset. This means the bar is set exceptionally high for adoption — nothing short of the fastest, most reliable and intuitive products. But this also means that if you can meet or exceed the bar, you earn a deeply loyal following that will ride or die with you through the wilderness of security review and procurement.

When we first met Debo and Rob, we were struck by the clarity and simplicity of their vision that addressed all of these pain points. They believed dev environments should be entirely in the cloud — always ready to code, preconfigured with latest updates, infinitely scalable and reproducible, secure and collaborative by default — all while keeping the conveniences that makes the experience feel native to earn developer love (like being able to keep using your favorite IDE and shortcuts). All this would allow developers to write and test code that feel exactly like production environments, streamline new developer onboarding, and reduce cloud spend by spinning up and down instances as needed. Delivering on all of this is not an easy undertaking, but Debo and Rob also had the unique blend of experiences that make them suited to tackle this problem, having both seen it done right at companies like Facebook, and also having first-hand experience in trying to fix it at companies like Uber.

Welcome Debo, Rob & the entire DevZero team to the Fika family. Congratulations on the official launch, and we couldn’t be more excited to be partners with you in this journey of empowering developers to code in the cloud.

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John Chen
Fika Ventures

Seed Investing @FikaVC , Columnist @TechCrunch . Previously @EmergenceCap , @BoxHQ , @Google , and @WhiteHouse . Tennis, cycling and ping-pong enthusiast.