Earthly wants to reinvent continuous integration to make it faster and cheaper

Continuous integration and continuous delivery, aka CI/CD, is a modern development concept where code is being constantly updated and delivered to a central repository, rather than waiting for a set of features to be completed and releasing it all at once. It’s a fairly recent construct, but Earthly Technologies, an early stage startup, believes that CI is ripe for updating to make it faster and more efficient.

The company has had an open source CI product for some time, but today it announced that is releasing a SaaS version, Earthly CI, which users can sign up for. It also made public a previously unannounced $6.5 million seed plus round that closed in 2021. The company was loathe to reveal the exact closing date for some reason.

Earthly founder and CEO Vlad A. Ionescu explained that traditional CI suffers from being poky, slowing down developers waiting for the code to integrate. What’s more, he says the software is difficult to run and debug on a local laptop. Finally, it’s expensive, and he believes that it’s costly by design because it’s traditionally billed by the build minute, an approach that discourages companies from building a faster system.

He says he started his company to solve these problems.

“Our CI reinvents continuous integration by giving you really, really fast CI pipelines, I’m talking an order of magnitude faster than ever before possible. We’re talking like two to 20x speed improvement, and that unlocks a level of productivity for the engineering team that you’ve never seen before,” he claimed.

They do this by only running what’s changed instead of running the whole setup every time. “So if you look at the traditional CI, the typical workflow is such that the developer first commits code to GitHub, and then they wait for the CI to kick in. And then there are a bunch of steps like reinstalling programming languages, then reinstalling application dependencies and rebuilding components that have not changed.”

“And everything up to this point is stuff that is exactly the same every single time. Our technology allows you to reuse that computation from previous runs, so you only rebuild what has actually changed,” he said.

The open source project can be downloaded for free, but he says it lacks the speed boost of the pay version, Earthly CI.

The company has 15 employees, up from 4 when they got the funding, and is hiring slowly for select roles. In particular, he is looking to build a go-to-market team.

Ionescu says it’s challenging to find diverse technical personnel as he builds his team, but he will look to fill other roles with more diverse candidates. “It is not easy, especially when you have a very DevOps-CI type of product. The statistics are such that there are very few diverse candidates for those particular roles. It is tough, but as we continue to build a team where we can include more junior [roles] as well, that’s where we see more diversity coming in,” he said.

The $6.5 million funding was led by Innovation Endeavors with participation from existing investors 468 Capital and Uncorrelated Ventures.