Gradle Grabs $4.2 Million To Expand Commercial Company Around Open Source Build System

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Surely by now we know that every company is a software company, and as more companies focus on software development, it is increasingly difficult for them to manage the complexity around coordinating builds and creating executables. That’s where the open source Gradle tool comes in — and it got $4.2 million today to continue to expand the commercial company behind the open source project.

The round was led jointly by True Ventures and Data Collective (DCVC). This is actually the first funding for the company, which has been boot strapping up until now, founder and CEO Hans Dockter told TechCrunch.

Gradle is a huge success by any open source standards, being used by millions of developers and some of the best known companies in the world including Netflix, LinkedIn, Siemens, Google Android and a host of other big names.

These companies are attracted to this tool because it solves a real problem around complex software builds. Let’s say you have a team of developers working on a piece of a project and those developers have to coordinate with other groups. That kind of coordination is nearly impossible manually. When one programmer makes a choice, perhaps downloads the latest library update, it’s possible that one small move could have a negative domino effect across the entire code base of the project.

What Gradle does is bring automation to that coordination process, checking dependencies and warning programmers when something they have done might break the code of others in the build, providing a constant quality check that has been missing from the developer workflow because there weren’t tools to do this.

This is not unlike Chef or Puppet, tools which bring automation to spinning up the virtual machines with the correct resources, but instead of working on the needed hardware, Gradle makes sure the build is constantly in sync, that no dependencies have broken and builds the executable from all of the code pieces when it’s ready to distribute.

Having an automation tool to do this can greatly speed up the deliverables, allowing companies to release builds much more often, an absolute necessity in a time where customers want the latest updates as quickly as possible, not in a month or longer.

Android is a good example. Android had issues with the fragmentation of Android build types. This has caused confusion and consternation among developers trying to deal with all the different flavors of the popular phone OS.

“Developers were saying it was too hard to deal with that, to build apps with all of the things they had to consider with different devices, different SDKs [and so forth]. We as a next generation build tool, reduce complexity and make it easier for developers [to deal with that],” Dockter explained.

Down the road, the company plans to release as a Software as Service offering, which will not only tell a programmer that a dependency is broken, it will track every open source instance of Gradle running on developer machines. It can then gather all of that information and feed it back to developers to explain why it’s not working, Dockter explained.

Dockter moved the company to the Bay Area last year from Berlin,Germany to build out the commercial part of the company. It currently has 35 employees, but they plan to at least double that in 2016. While 10 million developers have downloaded the tool, around 100 are paying for support and services at the moment and they want to increase that number in the coming year.

In addition, they hope to get the service ready for commercial release, while continuing to build out the capabilities of the open source version of Gradle.