Kite, which makes developers more productive by automatically writing lines of code, just launched its first paid product in six years

Kite, which makes developers more productive by automatically writing lines of code, just launched its first paid product in six years
Adam Smith, founder and CEO of KiteKite
  • On Tuesday, the developer startup Kite launched its first paid product, as well as support for JavaScript, the most popular programming language according to GitHub.
  • Kite has seen an 8% increase in usage in March during the coronavirus pandemic and CEO Adam Smith believes it's because it's helping developers be more productive.
  • "Our users tell us that Kite makes them, on average, 18% more productive," Smith says, estimating that its new paid product — Kite Pro — will give developers a "25x return-on-investment."
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Kite, the six-year-old developer startup with over a quarter million monthly active users, just launched its first paid product aimed at speeding up the programming process.

Kite helps automate the tedious parts of writing code to help developers be more productive, including by automatically correcting errors, surfacing documentation, or identifying patterns in code. It can even save developers time by suggesting ways to complete multiple lines of code at once.

On Tuesday, Kite launched Kite Pro, which is packed with improved features aimed at professional engineers, says founder and CEO Adam Smith. Most of Kite's users have traditionally been students or casual coders, but the startup thinks that the new tools — like the ability to auto-insert lines of boilerplate code without copy-posting snippets — will appeal to professional users. Kite Pro costs $16.60 per month and the company plans to roll out more business-focused features over time, Smith says.

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"Our users tell us that Kite makes them, on average, 18% more productive," Smith says. Using average salary data from StackOverflow's latest survey and assuming that half of a developer's time is spent coding, he estimates that Kite Pro provide "a 25x return-on-investment."

Kite's also launching another free product called Kite for JavaScript. Up until now, Kite has only focused on the programming language Python, but this new addition will allow it to accommodate the most popular programming language.


Kite has seen an 8% increase in usage during the coronavirus crisis

Smith says that he founded Kite because throughout his long history of coding, his biggest frustration was when he'd end up wasting time on repetitive tasks.

He first started writing code and selling it online as a teenager before studying computer science at MIT. He launched his first startup — Xobni — out of his dorm room and Yahoo acquired it for $40 million in 2013. By the next year, he launched Kite.

"[As a developer] you're constantly searching on Google for documentation," Smith said. "Anytime you have repetitive tasks like this, you figure out how to automate it."

It took the company three years to publicly launch its first product, but since then the company has put time and effort into developing a strong team to build on the technology, winning users' love, and scaling the product in an affordable way.

"Now that we've figured that out, the next step is: Can we monetize this user base?" he said.


Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Smith says that Kite saw an 8% increase in usage in March, and Smith believes it's because the product is helping engineers be more productive at this time. The company currently has 250,000 users.

While he believes it could have gotten more users, faster, by rolling out support for different programming languages sooner, he says that Kite's strategy allowed it to make sure it got its core products right first.

"Some startups fall into a trap of expanding too early," he said. "That ultimately slows you down if you don't have a formula."

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