App Infrastructure Startup Firebase Raises $5.6M From Union Square And Flybridge

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Firebase, a Y Combinator-backed startup that offers infrastructure for real-time apps, is taking the stage today at GigaOm’s Structure conference, where it’s announcing that it has raised a $5.6 million Series A from Union Square Ventures and Flybridge Capital Partners.

As CEO and co-founder James Tamplin first explained a year ago, Firebase aims to enable developers to create web and mobile apps “really, really fast without worrying about servers or writing server code” — you just write front-end code and let Firebase handle the backend. In the past few months, the company has opened the platform to all developers, released a software development kit for iOS, and launched its first module, Firepad (a real-time text editor).

In his blog post announcing the funding, Tamplin said that the new funding will be spent on three main things — improving support for the Firebase community, expanding the team, and launching Firebase’s paid product. The basic idea is to charge based on bandwidth, storage, and number of users.

Flybridge previously led Firebase’s $1.1 million seed round. The firm’s general partner, Chip Hazard, and Union Square’s Albert Wenger joined Firebase’s board of directors. Tamplin noted that “both have deep experience helping to build companies with developer-facing products” and both sit on the board of database company 10gen. He also said that Wenger was “the only investor we pitched who immediately made a Firebase app.”

In an email, Hazard said, “It’s clear from the metrics that the company has a product that developers love and the team and vision to provide companies with a world-class solution for building real-time web applications.” Wenger, meanwhile, has a blog post saying that Firebase makes him think of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke’s famous declaration that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic:

I remember first looking at Twilio and thinking it can’t really be that easy to receive a phone call using a program. A couple lines of code? Really? More recently I had the same reaction looking at Firebase. Javascript objects that are local but are synchronized over the network? Set values with a single call and receive a callback when a value changes? That’s really it? In a trial a few weeks ago it took me less than an hour to turn a single player game into a two player game (and that includes signing up for Firebase and reading the documentation). Both of these are examples of a kind of magic for engineers: access to a much more powerful spell that let’s you do new and amazing things.