Profitable Australian DevOps startup Buildkite explains how its new $28 million in funding will let it spread the word about being 'the best-kept secret in the developer tool space'

Profitable Australian DevOps startup Buildkite explains how its new $28 million in funding will let it spread the word about being 'the best-kept secret in the developer tool space'
Buildkite CEO and cofounder Lachlan DonaldBuildkite
  • On Tuesday, the Australian DevOps startup Buildkite announced $28 million in fresh funding, bringing its valuation to $200 million.
  • Buildkite builds continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools that help developers release code faster and more often, and it competes with Jenkins, CircleCI, Travis CI, and others.
  • Buildkite CEO and cofounder Lachlan Donald says the company has been profitable since its early days because it charged for its product since the start, focused on building a quality product, and kept its headcount low.

For a long time, the Australian DevOps startup Buildkite didn't take calls from investors, even though it was "bombarded" by VCs reaching out.

Why not? In part because the firm never needed the money. Buildkite achieved profitability in the first month after launching in 2013, cofounder and CEO Lachlan Donald told Business Insider by charging for its products right off the bat, rather than offering a "freemium" product like many other startups. That model has really forced it to make its product shine brighter than other free competitors, he adds.

Buildkite sells tools for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), which help developers release code faster and more often. The firm currently supports over 30,000 engineers and 1,000 corporate customers, including Shopify, Pinterest, and Wayfair.


"[BuildKite] is not often the first CI tool you use, but what you come to when you're a successful business — when you've outgrown those introductory tools," Donald said. "We've been very successful in getting customers that are the best technology companies in the world using us. The fact that we charge for our products helps us work really hard at creating the best product possible."

But finally, after seven years, Buildkite decided to raise money to promote the company and build partnerships: On Tuesday, it announced $28 million in funding led by OpenView, bringing its valuation to over $200 million.

"We keep hearing from our customers that 'Buildkite is the best-kept secret in the dev tool space. You're our secret weapon,'" Donald told Business Insider. "The biggest challenge for us is telling people about Buildkite. This is the best CI/CD tool that every company needs. We want to try to get more people aware of it."


The company has a grand total of zero salespeople, and only recently hired its first marketing employee. The new funding will change that, Donald said.

Buildkite is taking on other CI/CD tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, and Travis CI

Previously, Donald worked as the CTO of 99designs, where his team "tried every CI tool," but was frustrated that other products were either like the open source project Jenkins, which is built for on-premise data centers, or entirely cloud-based, like CircleCI and Travis CI. So, Donald decided he wanted to build a hybrid tool that works for both kinds of customers.

"Buildkite was built because we thought CI/CD as it was designed was broken," Donald said. He wanted to "rethink" how it could be done, and decided that "hybrid architecture gives you the best of both worlds."


Read more: Investors are betting hundreds of millions of dollars that startups like PagerDuty, GitLab, and CloudBees can change the way software gets made

Buildkite also differentiates itself from other CI/CD companies because of its "unlimited" ability to scale and run thousands of operations at once, Donald says. It has some core philosophical differences that differentiate it from other startups in general, too.

It keeps its headcount low — with only 26 remote employees in six countries — rather than taking what Donald describes as the "land grab approach" of hiring many employees.


"We think that a lot of companies view headcount as a vanity metric," Donald said. "It's almost always the first question people ask: 'How many people are in your company?' We're trying to build a company where we can do more with less. We keep the headcount small but still be really effective."

In the future, Buildkite also plans to also focus on software testing to understand data on which tests are faster and slow and how they can solve problems. With the new funding, Buildkite plans to "keep doing what we've always been doing, which is to have a hyperfocus on customers."

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