Build is one of the most foundational tools for software engineering. Traditionally, it is the step in software development that takes the files written by engineers and compiles them into machine runnable code, but build has become so much more. Yes, it is used to compile code, but it is often the start of the developer workflow, from orchestrating application tooling, testing, environment setup, security, and compliance testing to even deployment. It really has become the central nervous system to development.
At a16z, we’ve been tracking build systems closely for years because it plays such a key role in software. However, build tools have been a fragmented market, with a particular build system most commonly used with a given language. For example, Java developers were likely to use a different tool than, say, C developers.
All of this changed when Google open sourced Bazel, which has since become a leading build system industry-wide. Bazel is an incredibly powerful build system that is fast, multi-language, extensible, and tremendously powerful. Over the last few years we’ve seen it take off rapidly in the industry, with adoption by many of the most sophisticated software companies.
Therefore, we were overjoyed when we learned that two of the core Bazel team, Helen Altshuler and Ulf Adams, had left to found EngFlow, the Bazel company. Early into our first meeting, we were fully sold on the team. Ulf, who is CTO, is one of the creators of Bazel and also one of the most respected engineers we’ve ever spoken to. And Helen, who is CEO, has an incredibly impressive background as a tech leader and has been integral to the Bazel community, where she led the adoption of the open source project and has deep relationships with everyone involved and on the periphery. Beyond that, they’ve put together the highest density of build and Bazel experts we’ve ever seen, with 70 percent of the company being from the original Bazel team and open source contributors.
We’re very excited to announce that we’ve joined the EngFlow team and led their seed round. Helen and Ulf are exactly the type of founders we love to back, and EngFlow — which is based on a leading, open, and deeply technical project and is delivering Bazel solutions to the enterprise — is exactly the type of company we love to be involved in. Since we made the investment, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the company’s development over the last few months, and EngFlow is already engaged with many top software companies as paying customers, including Snap and Brave. It’s almost as if this seedling was birthed as a full adult!
EngFlow’s solution is not limited to Bazel. While we strongly believe Bazel is the best build system out there, the EngFlow team is the best build team on the planet, and they are building the best platform independent build solution. They already support Soong/AOSP and Chromium/Goma today, and have support for many other build platforms on the roadmap.
So, if you’re a Bazel user, you really need to speak with EngFlow. More broadly, if build times, build costs, and the flexibility of your build system — regardless of what it’s currently based on — are important to you, then you really should be speaking with EngFlow.
The views expressed here are those of the individual AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) personnel quoted and are not the views of a16z or its affiliates. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by a16z. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, a16z has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation.
This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by a16z. (An offering to invest in an a16z fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Andreessen Horowitz (excluding investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets) is available at https://a16z.com/investments/.
Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see https://a16z.com/disclosures for additional important information.