|1||More than 10,000 dev users|
Floobits founders Geoff Greer and Matt Kaniaris believe it’s time for software companies to ditch offices. The inefficiencies of commuting (for the workers) and relying on local talent (for the companies), not to mention office distraction, noise and expense, are plenty of incentive to think virtual. What do developers need? Fundamentally, they need to talk to each other in real time.
Developers like to collaborate. They like their environments barrier-free, their partners and distributed teams on the same page, and their codebase common. They prefer the comfort of coding within their own native text editors.
Now, unimpeded coder collaboration is possible from remote locations thanks to Floobits’ pair programming platform. The startup’s growing 7,000 member user base can simultaneously develop applications on the same codebase directly in the text. That’s how Floobits stands apart—other pair programming platforms restrict developers to web-based editors.
Solving their own problem
A crack coder since age 12, Greer previously worked at Bloglines and Cloudkick (which Rackspace acquired in 2010), writing a lightning-fast code-searching tool called The Silver Searcher in his spare time. Kaniaris co-founded CloudFab, a 3D printing startup. He met and coded with Greer at Rackspace—starting Floobits, they say, was a decision to solve their own problem.
When they weren’t able to find the right real-time collaborative programming tool, Greer and Kaniaris decided to build the solution themselves. Their top priority was creating a platform that didn’t force users to give up their highly-customized native editors.
“I think it’s crazy that it’s 2013 and you still have to physically move software developers around to get them to work well together,” Greer says. “It seems like this should be a solved problem and I’m annoyed that it’s not.”
Setting their sights on the scale and penetration of hosting service GitHub, the founders aim to “to be at that level where if you’re not using our product, you’re doing it wrong,” Greer says.
Kaniaris and Greer see themselves leading a move toward productive telecommuting and remote collaboration. With Floobits, teams can easily move to Google Hangout for chat, screen-share, audio and video conferencing. Organizations don’t need to worry about drops in employee productivity that can occur when developers work from home. “The fact that other people can see your screen means you can’t just browse Reddit,” Greer says.
Making getting help easier
Matt Kaniaris says he knows that there’s a market waiting for Floobits—one user told the founders that he’d been waiting for this kind of system for years. In the past, that user would have had to cobble together a slow, ineffective environment using screen share and maybe collaborative web tool Screenhero, according to Kaniaris.
“Now you don’t even have to say ‘try this,’ you can just jump in and do it yourself,” he says. “If I had some problem, I’d go and grab a friend and have him look at my screen, look at some debug output and play around with it and it’s usually a silly one-line fix. You can’t do that easily right now on the internet without Floobits.”
And the founders say this is just the beginning. “There’s a lot of cool things we can build on top of this,” Greer says. (The founders recently introduced Floomatic, an open source tool they developed using Floobits that enables coders to show the results of their file changes in real time.) And Floobits is valuable for remote consulting, too. Since the tool can connect anyone already using the platform, it makes getting help from experts easier.
“It’s very common when writing code that if you had a domain expert for 30 minutes, you’d be able to work much faster,” Kaniaris says. “But instead you end up reading documentation and looking at mailing lists for hours.”
A taste of things to come
The Floobits team is focused on replicating—and enhancing—some of the social dynamics that occur when people are in the same physical work environment. Greer believes that whiteboarding is still a great way to communicate ideas, so Floobits will likely incorporate its instructive, interactive features, maybe even including a kind of courtesy prompt that informs users not to interrupt when their remote partner is “in the zone,” the founders say.
For now, Floobits offers a freemium pricing model—users can get up to five public workspaces for free, or pay for a variety of packages to use private workspaces. To come: selling their tool to larger organizations that can run their own copy of Floobits behind a firewall.
Floobits is conducting a Regulation D offering via Wefunder Advisors LLC. CRD Number: #167803.
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