How Netlify Became The JAMstack King
Netlify has now become the first choice of developers to build something cool but this wasn't always the case. Lets see how Netlify grew into a giant we all know.
If you are a web developer/designer then you probably have heard about JAMstack and Netlify. If you haven't then I guess you aren't a web developer, are you? Even if you aren't it's still worth to read their growth story.
Most of Netlify’s growth was organic and let's see how it happened.
In the beginning stage, Netlify was just a static hosting provider(you can still check it on MakerLoop) and it didn't have any added value over others. To tackle this Netlify worked on JAMstack whose founding stone was laid by Jekyll & GitHub years back.
In the end, Netlify immerged as a hosting provider for JAMstack based sites with serverless functionality. Since then Netlify has always been focused towards the JAMstack space and trying to push harder to reach new growth height.
Now let's see the path Netlify took for its organic growth story.
1. Winning Over GitHub Pages
Netlify was almost matured by 2017 and now was the time to aggressively go for the market. The closest thing to Netlify back then was GitHub Pages, most developers used GH Pages to host personal portfolio and open-source stuff for free. It was an easy war to win. Netlify quickly created a landing page on how Netlify was better than GitHub Pages. They even ran Google Search ads on related terms and it worked phenomenally well.
Now that Netlify had lots of developers under the roof it was time to explain the ways it was meant to be used.
2. Going JAMstack
The web wanted to grow but the current stack was holding developers back. Mathias and Christian being developers themselves knew the solution, going headless. Though the technology wasn't new but wasn't matured either. Reason? Lack of developer interest.
To tackle this Netlify's team massively promoted "JAMstack" and see where we are. Apart from this, they did help with some initial migration to enterprise customers. Checkout how Smashing Magazine moved to JAMstack with Netlify.
3. Hire Right, Sit Tight
I don't know who's the HR at Netlify but he or she is amazing. Netlify knew that the easiest way to get more developers to use their service was to make the best developers use Netlify.
They hired the best and the creative one. Some of them are Cassidy Williams, Phil Hawksworth, Shawn Wang, Jason Legstorf and others. These developers/designers did a great job is telling devs and designers about Netlify and how they use it through social networks and it was free promotion plus better engagement compared to ads.
4. Go Freemium
Currently, developers tools market is flooded with free tools and services and it would have been pretty much impossible for Netlify to see any traction without a free plan.
Just like Cloudflare, Netlify leveraged it free plan to get the masses and in result big giants like Facebook, Google, Netlify and Smashing Magazine started using it.
Netlify's founders have always been entrepreneurs, they were the ones behind BitBallon (merged with Netlify) and wished to take a bootstrapped path but this was capping their growth ability. In an interview by TechCrunch, Mathias Biilman said which I quote.
“We weren’t looking for new funding, but felt with the company growing rapidly, it would be prudent to take the money to help continue that growth.”
Netlify so far has taken part in 4 fundraising rounds, here are those.
Venture Round of 2.1M USD led by Tank Hill Ventures.
Series A Round of 12M USD led by Andreessen Horowitz(a16z).
Series B Round of 30M USD led by Kleiner Perkins.
Series C Round of 53M USD led by EQT Ventures.
So far 97.1M USD has been raised by Netlify to fund its current development
and growth phase, let's see how far this JAMstack wave takes them and what new thing the develop.
The result? The phenomenon, 800K users and $13.3 in annual revenue. Though they took lots of VC money in the end, the growth was all organic and natural.
Though they have seen a great growth journey now there are lot many competitors to tackle with, the major ones being Vercel and Render. The first one has smoothly made its way using its open-source framework known as Next.js and the latter one is evolving and a complete IaaS provider.
Ankit : )