CodeStream wants to move developer chat straight to the source code

There are tons of services out there from Slack to Jira that are designed to help developers communicate with one another about code issues, but there is a surprising dearth of tools that have been purpose-built to provide communication capabilities right in the IDE where developers work. CodeStream, a member of the Y Combinator Winter 2018, aims to fix that.

“We are team chat in your IDE and make it easier for developers to talk about code where they code,” company co-founder and CEO Peter Pezaris explained. He says that having the conversation adjacent to the code also has the advantage of creating a record of the interactions between coders, and they could learn from that over time, while making it easier to on-board new developers to the team.

Unlike many YC companies, Pezaris and his co-founder and COO Claudio Pinkus have more than 20 years of experience building successful companies. They say the idea for this one came from a problem they experienced over and over around developer communication. “CodeStream is story of scratching your own itch. We work as developers and my contention is that people tend to work too much in isolation,” Pezaris said.

Developers can go into Github and see every line of code they ever created back to the very start of the project, but conversations around that code tend to be more ephemeral, he explained. While the startup team uses Slack to communicate about the company, they saw a need for a more specific tool built right inside the code production tool to discuss the code.

Photo: CodeStream

If you’re thinking that surely something like this must exist already, Pezaris insists it doesn’t because of the way IDEs were structured until recently. They weren’t built to plug in other pieces like CodeStream. “You would be shocked how developers are sharing code,” he said. He spoke to team recently that took pictures of the code snippets with their mobile phones, then shared them in Facebook Messenger to discuss it.

A big question is why an experienced team of company builders would want to join Y Combinator, which is typically populated by young entrepreneurs with little experience looking for help as they build a company. The CodeStream team had a different motivation. They knew how to build a company, but having spent the bulk of their professional lives in New York City, they wanted to build connections in Silicon Valley and this seemed like a good way to do it.

They also love the energy of the young startups and they are learning from them about new tools and techniques they might not have otherwise known about, while also acting as mentors to the other companies given their atypical depth of experience.

The company launched last June. They eventually will charge a subscription fee to monetize the idea. As for what motivated them to start yet another company, they missed working together and the rush involved in building a company. “I took two years off after the sale of my previous business, and I got the itch. I feel better and happier when I’m doing this,” Pinkus said. “It’s the band. We got it back together,” says Pezaris.