UPDATED 08:00 EDT / MAY 14 2024

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CI/CD platform startup Harness raises $150M to accelerate software delivery

Continuous software delivery startup Harness Inc. is looking to expand its platform and kickstart the next stage of its growth after closing on a $150 million round of debt financing today.

The latest round, which brings the company’s total amount of equity and debt raised to more than $500 million, was led by Silicon Valley Bank, now a division of First Citizens Bank, and saw participation from Hercules Capital Inc.

Harness was founded by Jyoti Bansal (pictured), who previously founded AppDynamics, which Cisco Systems Inc. acquired in 2017 for $3.7 billion just before the company was about to go public. Bansal is also the founder of Traceable and Unusual Ventures.

Harness is the creator of a continuous delivery-as-a-service platform that leverages machine learning algorithms to monitor new software releases in case they create problems for developers. The service makes it easier for developers to understand what’s happening in an application’s baseline environment, and if a new update starts acting up, they can initiate an automatic rollback to the previous version of that app.

The platform is designed to support continuous integration and continuous deployment or CI/CD methodologies, which is a practice where companies push out frequent updates for their software and applications, often several times a day. Historically, developers would release new features in their software only once every few weeks or months.

Harness makes it simple for developers to adopt and implement CI/CD. Previously, doing so was a major headache that involved deploying a complex array of open-source tools, which can take many months. But with Harness, developers can utilize a number of prepackaged CI/CD features that are much easier to set up.

In addition, Harness provides tools that simplify other engineering tasks, such as setting up and maintaining the cloud infrastructure that supports developer’s applications.

Harness co-founder and Chief Executive Jyoti Bansal said his company is focused on supercharging developer productivity and reducing developer toil. “Every year, developers waste more than $1 trillion by spending 40%-plus of their time working on mundane, non-code-producing work,” he pointed out.

Harness says today’s debt financing comes on the back of some impressive growth in recent months, with the company recently breaking the $100 million annual recurring revenue milestone in its last financial year, as its customer base expanded to more than 600 enterprises. Its platform has been growing fast in terms of developer usage too, with customers executing a combined 44 million-plus code deployments via Harness in 2023, which is more than double the number seen in the previous year. Moreover, its platform has gained tons of new functions in that time, with over 2,800 new features and enhancements introduced in the last year.

With regard to those new features, some of the highlights include the debut of AIDA, which is a developer assistant tool that was launched in June last year, during the early days of the generative AI boom. Harness was one of the first software companies to introduce a generative AI-based assistant, and it has steadily improved the offering since its launch.

Other updates include the launch of four new product modules, including a code repository, internal developer portal, infrastructure-as-code management and software supply chain assurance, joining its eight existing modules. The company also debuted an open-source project called Gitness, which is a code hosting platform that Harness positions as an alternative to GitHub.

Most recently in January, Harness announced the acquisition of a competitor called Armory Inc. in an all-cash deal said to be valued at about $7 million. Armory was focused on automating the continuous deployment side of the CI/CD workflow, simplifying the process of creating scripts that scan new code for vulnerabilities and performance issues before it’s deployed.

Although a small portion of Harness’ previous funding round of $230 million two years ago was debt financing, this one had no equity component. Bansal told SiliconANGLE that debt at this time is a “cheaper source of capital” that “allows us to go to an initial public offering without any more financing.”

Bansal declined to provide timing on a possible IPO. “The bar is much higher” than it was a couple of years ago, he said. “We are not burning cash,” he added. “All we can focus on is building a strong business.”

Harness said the funds from today’s round will be used to help support the expansion of the platform, with yet more new features and generative AI capabilities said to be on the horizon, including several new software modules in addition to the current 12. Bansal said the company is investing heavily in AI. He said parts of the platform are built on OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google LLC’s Gemini large language model as well as “a little bit of self-produced LLMs.”

In addition, the company aims to expand its “go-to-market engine.”

With reporting from Robert Hof

Image: SiliconANGLE/Microsoft Designer

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