Real-time developer tool startup Pusher pulls in $8M in Series A funding

Pusher, the London startup that provides tools and cloud infrastructure for developers to add real-time functionality to their apps, such as push notifications and messages, has pulled in $8 million in Series A funding. The round was led by London VC firm Balderton Capital, with participation from Heavybit, the San Francisco-based investor that specialises in helping developer product companies scale.

Founded in 2011 — off the back of a modest $1 million in seed funding — Pusher aims to significantly lower the barriers for developers who want to build real-time features into their websites and apps. This was originally delivered via a general purpose realtime API and supporting cloud infrastructure, enabling app developers to more easily build things like rich push notifications, live content updates, and various real-time collaboration and communication features.

However, more recently the company has began rolling out additional offerings dedicated to specific real-time functionality. The first of those is Chatkit, an API and SDK intended to do a lot of the heavy lifting required to add chat functionality to an app or service.

In a call, Pusher co-founder Max Williams told me the startup’s Series A will be used to continue building new developer products and to establish a bigger presence in the U.S. so that it can be closer to customers.

Pusher already has a small team working out of Heavybit’s San Francisco office, but in line with growth it plans to eventually set up a bigger office on the West Coast and aims to have up to 30 people working in the U.S. by the end of the year. These will be in sales, marketing and customer support.

In addition, a significant amount will be invested in R&D, too, with Pusher’s own London-based engineering team being bolstered accordingly. Pusher currently employs 60 people.

To that end, Williams says that the new capital will enable Pusher to move a lot faster, in recognition that the real-time developer tool space has not only grown exponentially in the last few years but is also becoming more competitive. He feels that for Pusher to fully take advantage of the opportunity ahead, organic growth — and in turn the company growing at the same pace as revenue — wasn’t going to cut it. Prior to this round of funding the startup had only raised $2.5 million in debt in addition to its original $1 million seed round.

Meanwhile, Pusher says that more than 200,000 developers worldwide are using Pusher’s products and more than 40 billion messages per day are now sent using APIs provided by the company, “connecting more than eight billion devices per month”. Customers include The New York Times, which uses Pusher for updating its realtime news feeds; Mailchimp, which uses it for internal collaboration tools; and DraftKings, which uses Pusher for updating its realtime leaderboards.