Deno raises $21M to launch a fully managed runtime service

Deno, the development company behind the eponymous Deno runtime, today announced that it closed a $21 million Series A round led by Sequoia that brings its total raised to $26 million. According to CEO Ryan Dahl, the new cash will be put toward building out Deno’s commercial offering, Deno Deploy, while growing marketing operations and exploring new lines of business.

Deno is a runtime for JavaScript, TypeScript and WebAssembly based on the Rust programming language and the V8 JavaScript engine initially developed for Google Chrome and Chromium web browsers. Co-created by Dahl, who also created Node.js, Deno aims to provide a “productive” and secure scripting environment that can be used to manage servers, perform scientific computations, and more.

A prolific engineer, Dahl launched Deno in 2019 with Bert Belder, the co-founder of StrongLoop, a company building tools and services on top of Node.js. “Broadly, the purpose of the company is to further the use of JavaScript outside of the browser,” Dahl told TechCrunch in an email Q&A. “The main problem is how to tame the massive complexity of diverse and distributed infrastructure that is the web.”

Dahl sees Deno as a continuation of Node.js, which lets developers use JavaScript for server-side scripting (i.e., running scripts serverside to produce dynamic web page content). Deno seeks to solve Node.js’ lack of interoperability, and — unlike Node.js — it’s optimized for serverless computing, where cloud providers abstract away server resource management.

“You give [Deno] a JavaScript function that takes a request and returns a response, and we can serve that at scale indefinitely at zero cost — if it’s low traffic,” Dahl explained.

Deno the company contributes to Deno the open source project, which already has tens of thousands of weekly active users on GitHub. A full-time team of engineers works on Deno, addressing issues and bugs and deploying new releases. But Deno also sells access to the aforementioned Deno Deploy, a managed Deno service running on top of a network with 33 regions around the world.

Dahl sees Cloudflare Workers as most closely competing with Deno Deploy, followed by Vercel, Netlify and Fastly. But Deno has notched a few wins to date, including a collaboration with Slack to develop the latter’s next-generation development platform.

Deno is also a member of an initiative between Node.js and Cloudflare to allow the transfer of apps between Cloudflare Workers, Deno and Node.js without the need for a rewrite, a feat that’s presently beyond reach.

“There’s a huge amount of economic pressure to improve the infrastructure around the web — whether that’s browsers themselves or the servers that host websites or the databases,” Dahl said. “[Our goal is to provide] very optimal, very cheap cloud services.”

Former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, a Deno investor, added in a statement:

Deno is a new runtime for JavaScript that abstracts away all the complex capabilities of today’s data centers in native, easy-to-use JavaScript. This will revolutionize server programming by making it simpler and more intuitive to the largest base of developers: JavaScript developers. Additionally, Deno’s architecture as an isolate cloud supports the next wave of web development that relies heavily on optimizations like … edge. This makes it an ideal platform for modern web applications.

Besides Sequoia, Four Rivers Ventures, Rauch Capital, Long Journey Ventures, the Mozilla Corporation and Shasta Ventures have backed Deno. The company currently has 17 employees and plans to hire 10 more by next year.