This week we are excited to announce that we have closed a $33m Series C, led by Comcast Ventures with new investors including Microsoft’s M12, 01 Advisors, Atlassian, and ServiceNow, as well as previous investors, Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Harmony Venture Partners. We see this new round of investment as a validation that feature delivery is a market that’s here to stay. I had the opportunity to sit down with Split’s co-founders, Adil Aijaz, Patricio “Pato” Echagüe, and Trevor Stuart to conduct an in-house AMA about what the next five years at Split look like, and how the first five years got us here.
To read more about our investors and the details of our funding round, check out our blog post from Split CEO Brian Bell.
Five years ago there weren’t many who thought feature delivery was or could be a product category, today it’s on fire. How big can it get?
Trevor – As one of our board members, commented a few quarters ago, this market is “really beginning to open up”.
I think this is proven out just by looking at the customer and partner brands we’re now working with. The largest financial institutions and media companies are turning to feature delivery platforms, and Split in particular, to power their product development.
In the last several quarters, we’ve seen significant interest from market leaders, including our new investors, to build robust integrations. This includes, sending feature flag changes to ServiceNow or Atlassian for approval, or flag change notifications to Microsoft Teams to drive better collaboration and awareness. We’ve seen analytics providers like Amplitude or APM vendors like NewRelic look for feature level context data to enrich their platforms.
As we continue to build out our partner network, customers will see that feature level data will enrich all the tools developers and product teams use today. One phrase we hear over and over again is “this reminds me of the early days of APM”. We hope they’re right!
Pato – In shaping the idea that became Split, we recognized that feature flags and experimentation sit at the foundation of agile development principles. (Or maybe we got lucky, I’ll never tell!)
In today’s software development world, being fast and lean, and bringing value to customers with the same speed and efficiency is crucial. We play an important role in helping companies move faster without losing quality or safety. These are agile principles that are being adopted in every company that produces software. The market is just huge if you think about all the companies transforming themselves into technology companies and adopting software as the delivery method for their offerings.
What are you most excited about that this investment brings closer to reality?
Adil – We help product development teams gradually roll out new features to customers while understanding “what” was the impact of that change on customer experience. Our belief is that the real magic is in understanding the “why”. That “why”, a clear understanding of customer behavior, is what I am excited about unlocking.
Trevor – While the investment won’t change our day to day operating tactics, it allows us to continue to drive the product and industry forward. And brings the inevitable category of Feature Delivery Platforms one step closer. Creating a category is one of the most challenging things any entrepreneur or organization can set out to do. Customers have to both have the pain your solution solves AND a willingness to pay to solve that pain. Investors have to believe that the category you evangelize is going to materialize at scale. This investment allows us to continue that creation and evangelism, bringing us one step closer to creating a successful category.
We like to say that our customers are our change review board. How have you felt the power of our customers in guiding our growth?
Trevor – The first couple of whiteboard mocks and feature sets were based on our personal experiences and what we had built before. Very quickly though, I mean since week 12, it has been all about the customer. Every piece of functionality or new product offering is inspired by processes our customers have stood up outside of Split or core functionality they are asking us to build.
Currently we are beta testing two features that have been heavily requested by our customer base. These are adding the ability to export flag data via CSV, as well as allowing Split’s SDKs to download specific flag definitions. The former was one of our largest drivers of support requests these last 12 months, and the latter is one of our top 5 SDK enhancement requests.
Our product team has built an incredible backlog management tool that allows us to see all feature requests and the associated roadmap items. We’re able to bring each feature back to user pain and ultimately drive a deeper understanding of what the customer is trying to accomplish.
It’s hard to hit the mark with every new enhancement, hence the value of experimentation, but the more avenues of input the better. Want to talk? I’ll never turn down the conversation. Unless it’s my 12th Zoom meeting of the day! Then it will need to be a walking call!
What’s the next big problem or project you’re excited to tackle?
Trevor – From a product standpoint, we’re all excited about a tighter alignment with our new investors. We have a unique opportunity to bring Split’s capabilities to development teams using solutions offered by Microsoft, ServiceNow, and Atlassian and we’re excited to bring this benefit to our customers.
What do you wish you could go back and tell yourself when you were just starting this adventure?
Adil – Your instincts are right. Trust yourself.
Pato – I would tell the younger me to take a few more risks early on and to balance work better with personal activities like exercising and spending time with people I admire or that help me feel energized.
What’s the big culture goal over the next year? Over the next five years? How do you see Split’s culture evolving as we scale?
Pato – What keeps me awake at night is thinking about how we need to protect our culture as we grow. What tools and education we need, and how we implement hiring practices that support the culture we want to have.. It was so much easier when we were just 10 people but at the current scale, we need to think about the next generations and how they will influence the company and culture as we grow.
That impact will be as exponential as our growth.
Diversity has (rightfully) become a major component of the company culture conversation in 2020. Is there anything from the past five years that you’d have changed about how we approach diversity at Split? How do you see us changing in the next five years?
Pato – Starting with the founders, we all come from different countries, have different native languages, and had different religious beliefs, among other differences. We wanted to build a diverse culture from day one. We owe the company more work on that and recently we started a new task force to keep driving diversity at Split.
Adil – We’ve always tried to interview from a diverse background, based on skill-set and experience. I look forward to continuing these efforts.
Trevor – This ties back to the previous question about things I wish I knew at the start of this journey. If I could go back to day one, I would have been focused on hiring a diverse set of early teammates. We relied heavily on our networks and former colleagues. This common practice compounds Silicon Valley’s diversity problem. I encourage all early startups to start this conversation and make the requisite changes early on. Force the change you want to see. You started a company. You can make a change. Today at Split we’re recommitting to diversity and equity in our hiring practices, and look forward to bringing new voices onto the team.
Tell the truth, which integration is coming first… Azure, GitHub, Jira, or ServiceNow?
Pato – You’re putting me on the spot here! How about integrations with all of them at the same time!? Released at the same time!
No, that was a joke!
Seriously, we have some exciting decisions to make, so be sure to follow up on social media to get the updates! You can find us on Twitter @SplitSoftware.
And it wouldn’t be an AMA without this one… Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck? Why?
Trevor – One horse-sized duck. I can focus and defeat one duck. 100 ducks? Hard to focus.
Thanks team! If you’d like to learn more about modern feature delivery or experimentation with Split, we invite you to sign up for a free account and build your first flag today! Or check out these resources to learn more:
- COVID-19 and the Evolution of Experimentation
- How to Implement Testing in Production
- Database Migrations with Feature Flags
- How to Experiment During Extreme Seasonality
- The 5 Phases of a Feature Launch
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