23 Mar 2018

The First Week of a Wild Ride

My first week on the job, we raised series B funding and celebrated with a trip to a local tiki bar. After that big milestone, I’ve split my time learning a new programming language, learning a new deployment toolchain, getting acquainted with all my great new colleagues, and realizing that there’s so much more for me to learn. A few things, however, have been familiar.

At my last job, we used LaunchDarkly for feature management. Engineers would create feature flags and then ship features behind those flags. We kept those features hidden to customers until we had tested them out internally. Once a feature was ready, we’d let our customer success team communicate the change to our customer and enable the feature.

Something that brings me pangs of nostalgia is operational issues with recording event data. At my last gig, we had an outage because of a bug (I introduced) that created a channel in RabbitMQ every time that we published an event. This bug went undetected for a while. Then, one day we had a load spike that caused our RabbitMQ server to run out of memory and prevent us from accepting all writes (because we tried to publish before the transaction was committed). Since the bug went undetected for so long, reverting recent deploys didn’t have an effect, and so we had an outage until we were able to find the root cause of the issue. Once we knew the root cause, the fix was easy, but while we were investigating, our application was essentially read only. If we had the ability to disable publishing for the one customer that was sending us the spike in traffic, we’d have been able to isolate and reduce the severity of this outage.

At LaunchDarkly, luckily, we use feature flags for those operational scenarios. Just recently we were getting a dramatic spike of events from one customer, to the point it was causing increased latency in our message broker. Once we noticed that, we disabled publishing events for that customer since they were already over their usage limit. By doing that we were able to isolated degraded service and prevent issues cascading to anyone else. Once we flipped the feature flag in LaunchDarkly, in real-time, the traffic was diverted and the outage was averted.

Building resilient systems like this is something that I’m really excited to be doing. I’ve got a lot to learn and the company is growing fast, so I think this wild ride is gonna continue for a while.

04 Dec 2017

LaunchDarkly, #1 Feature Management Platform, Gets $21M in Series B Funding

As founder and CEO of the leading feature management platform, I’ve seen how our customers use LaunchDarkly to help them innovate more quickly, reduce risk, and break down the barriers between developer, product, marketing, and sales. Ultimately, LaunchDarkly helps our customers around the world help their own customers succeed. We take the feature flagging platform that the biggest tech giants (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) build in-house, and provide it as a service for everyone else. Thanks to a tremendous response—we serve over 10 Billion (with a B) features EVERY DAY— I’m pleased to announce that we’ve raised $21M in our Series B to accelerate our own growth in engineering, customer success, and category education.

Feature flagging/toggling is a deceptively simple idea—by separating code deployment from release with a “flag” or ”toggle”, companies can control who gets what feature in their software. LaunchDarkly allows customers to manage their feature flags at scale, giving them the in-house platform that the big tech giants have. Companies start by using LaunchDarkly for an initial “dark launch” by selectively releasing a feature to a group of their customers. This is something tech giants like Facebook and Netflix do constantly, and it allows them to manage what features we see and use in their products with minimal risk to their business. Once they become comfortable with our platform and services, the product team is able to use LaunchDarkly feature flags for fast feedback, marketing team can use LaunchDarkly for betas and launches, and sales can use us for contract management.  

LaunchDarkly is a unified platform where developer, product, marketing, sales, and customer success teams can manage code in real time. Our three main types of customers are:

Disruptors
These startups want the same feature management superpowers Facebook and Netflix have. We’ve worked with startups as they’ve grown from four people to thriving successful businesses, like Troops.AI. They’ve used us for every feature, usually starting with risk mitigation, then moving into limited rollouts, and then allowing everyone in the business to control their own features. As one startup company’s CEO told me, “We originally started using you as an “oh shoot” button, now we use you everywhere.” Another VP Product said, “Using LaunchDarkly for feature development is like night and day.”

Transitioners
These customers built their own feature management infrastructure and are tired of maintaining it. When companies like Lanetix and a leading ecommerce car buying portal made the switch to our platform, suddenly their developers could do all the things they wanted, like role based authorization and complex rule sets. And what’s more, the rest of the company can also use our tools. Now developers can focus on building and the entire company benefits from access to control and flexibility. When I was in Australia, the company told me “now when we build a feature, everyone asks ‘did you LD it?’”

Innovators
These modernizing companies know they need to move faster to innovate. They are at the forefront of their industry and know that constantly iterating will help them stay competitive. Last year, I gave a talk at NDC Sydney on how to use feature flags. An engineer from a huge IOT conglomerate immediately asked me for a demo and became a customer. This year, he gave a talk on how he’d moved from annual releases to weekly releases.

It’s extremely gratifying for our entire team at LaunchDarkly to see how much customers rely on us to run their own businesses. Customers small and large are looking to us not just as a developer tool, but as a platform that their entire company can use to deliver functionality to the right person at the right time.

While we were in Sydney, a customer’s CEO sent me a personal thank you note for a sales person visiting them and educating them on how best to use feature flags. If you’ve been in enterprise developer software, like I have, you know that usually the reaction to a salesperson visit is not kudos. However, our customers view us as a trusted advisor for expertise in feature management. I am so proud of our team and I hope our funding will help us continue to be the #1 trusted feature flag management platform, as well as invest in more education for our customers and broader market. Want to join our team? We’re hiring!

We found perfect partners in Scott Raney (Redpoint) and Jonathan Heiliger (Vertex). Scott has been a long time friend of LaunchDarkly, giving me advice and guesting on my podcast, “To Be Continuous”. Jonathan is a cloud infrastructure pioneer who is very familiar with the value LaunchDarkly provides from his time at Facebook. I’m looking forward to working closely with them both through the next chapter of LaunchDarkly.

So what’s next? LaunchDarkly has an incredibly broad base of cross-industry customers, from banking to insurance to shipping to ecommerce to hardware. The appeal of feature management is truly game-changing. Instead of code being a static object that’s changed only once a year or quarter, suddenly, code is a living, evolving power. Developers can build, marketing can launch, product can iterate, and sales can sell. Equipping businesses with the ability to move at the speed of every deploy allows an entire company to learn rapidly, deliver value to their customers faster, and produce more value. With this funding, we hope to support more customers and teach the world that there is a better way to build software—feature flagging.

*Header image credit: NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Expedition 32 flight engineer.

16 Jun 2017

To Be Continuous: Finding Co-Founders, Engineers vs. Artists, Funding Napkin, NPS, Hiring

In the latest episode of To Be Continuous, Edith and Paul discuss 5 topics that are top of mind at most startups. First, they examine approaches for finding a good co-founder. Next, they delve into Michael Dearing’s course on the artistic side of engineering. They then move on to discuss the SaaS Funding Napkin and why 27% of companies that raise series A have no revenue. They also share their experiences using Net Promoter Scores and consider the pros and cons of hiring fast vs slowly. This is episode #32 in the To Be Continuous podcast series all about continuous delivery and software development.

Continue reading “To Be Continuous: Finding Co-Founders, Engineers vs. Artists, Funding Napkin, NPS, Hiring” »

17 Dec 2015

How LaunchDarkly’s Culture Inspires Its Product

Silicon Valley is known for its innovative work culture that cultivates employee happiness and promotes a harmonious work environment.  That’s all well and good, but does it translate into a great product?

I would argue that many companies promote an exciting ‘super duper awesome’ work environment, but have a hard time channeling that culture into a successful product.   Here, I’d like to discuss how we take this innovative culture and channel it into a successful product by promoting three core tenants.

  • Intellectual Curiosity – A culture of continuous intellectual growth allows everyone on the team to contribute to every aspect of the product, from marketing to design.  You are encouraged to learn, to adapt, and to challenge yourself and your teammates.  “What if’s” are encouraged and “dissent” is channeled through hypotheses and curiosity.  Product direction is shaped by the interplay of curiosity and discourse, even if you are not a domain expert in the subject at hand.
  • Reciprocated Support – Everyone on the team works for each other.  If I work on the weekend, it’s not because I have to or because I have a deadline, it’s because I want to.  Because I feel continuously supported, I reciprocate by trying to make everyone else’s workload easier and provide any benefit I can. We each have each others’ back, and that’s an inspiring feeling to have.
  • Vision Driven Development – While ultimately we are looking to be a successful business, we also truly believe that we are making things better and easier.  I find it very easy to pour my energy into something I truly believe in, rather than just something I feel will make money.

When you have a team that gels so well together, the product creates itself and reflects those values.  When each individual is held to a high standard, the product is held to a high standard.  Being proud of what you create is essential to a successful product.  We are proud of the work we do and we channel that pride to, not only make life better for our customers, but for each other.

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01 Oct 2015

LaunchDarkly on ProductHunt

We’re thrilled to be on ProductHunt today! We’re happy to have more software teams discover the power of LaunchDarkly to help them build better software, faster.

Here are ten ways you can use LaunchDarkly:

  1. Run beta programs on your live application by explicitly including the people you want to see a new feature
  2. Quickly turn off a poorly performing feature
  3. Allow users to opt-in for early access to new features
  4. Do phased rollouts to percentages of your users to verify there are no scalability issues.
  5. Protect features from users by excluding them from ever seeing them – for example, excluding anyone from TechCrunch from seeing new functionality
  6. Run A/B tests of features to see which perform better.
  7. Control subscription plans by bundling features flags into plans
  8. Show expert users and beginner users different features entirely
  9. Put portions (or your entire application) into maintenance mode
  10. Cleanly sunset old, unused features

If you have any questions, we’re happy to answer – you can use Intercom, or email us at support@launchdarkly.com