First GitHub, Now Meteor: Andreessen Horowitz Backs Another Developer Favorite

By Erin Griffith , written on July 25, 2012

From The News Desk

Marc Andreessen's now-famous "Software is Eating the World" manifesto made his firm, Andreessen Horowitz, the investor-of-choice for companies building solutions for software developers. Last month there was GitHub. Now, the firm, alongside Matrix Partners, has invested $11.2 million in Meteor, an open source developer platform that Matrix Partners' David Skok calls "the next Ruby on Rails."

Andreessen Horowitz's $100 million investment in code repository site GitHub was one of the hottest deals of the year – after I wrote about the deal in May, I was bombarded by emails from investors asking "was I sure this deal had closed because their firm was realllly hoping to get a piece of it?"

Those guys didn't have a chance. Andreessen Horowitz chased the profitable, bootstrapped company for nine months, says Partner Peter Levine. The firm first convinced GitHub's founders to take investor money (which the company did not need), and then convinced them to do it with Andreessen Horowitz. The two sides finally agreed on terms – an unheardof $100 million Series A at a $750 million valuation – including a specific request: This highly sought-after deal would be for Andreessen Horowitz exclusively. Since GitHub didn't need the money, they were doing this for expertise. No outside capital would be let in.

That expertise is what brought Meteor, the newest on-fire developer platform, to Andreessen Horowitz. Meteor is a bit younger than GitHub – founder Matt DeBergalis launched its open source site April. Three months later, "most javascript developers know what Meteor is, which is a good indication we touched a nerve," DeBergalis says, adding that Meteor might have been the most popular product launch in the history of Hacker News.

Today Andreessen Horowitz led an $11.2 million investment in Meteor, with participation from Matrix Partners.

The deal fits perfectly into Andreessen Horowitz's focus on "the renaissance in enterprise computing," Levine tells PandoDaily. "Enterprise computing is really entering this very explosive growth phase and these companies actually make it easier and more scalable to programmers to write code."

"With Meteor and Github, we've found the two winners in the space," he adds. In a company blog post on the deal, he called Meteor's "fast secure and in real time" client synch "magic!"

Levine and Skok of Matrix Partners have both built open source companies. More importantly, they've both turned those open source companies into viable enterprise businesses and sold them. Levine built XenSource, a provider of open source virtualization solution, which he sold to Citrix Systems in 2007. Skok led open source company JBoss through a similar transition, which he calls "a classic illustration of the power of free." Levine and Skok have signed on as advisors. And Rod Johnson, co-founder of development framework SpringSource, which sold to VMWare, will join Meteor's board.*

Meteor's DeBergalis says that is his company's plan as well. First his seven-person company will spend a year building up a community of developers using its free, open source solution. Then he'll tap Levine and Skok's expertise for making it into a real business, selling commercial tools that sit alongside Meteor to enterprise customers.

He built Meteor creating building similar tools for his own use, realizing the need for such a platform. Meteor helps developers build rich, responsive applications using javascript, he says. Currently sites like Facebook, Twitter or Gmail are responsive--meaning they show updates and changes to pages made by others, on multiple devices, without the user having to refresh the page. Even though users have come to expect that kind of experience, it is difficult for developers to build into small or new web and mobile applications. Meteor makes it far less difficult.

"We're in the midst of a transition that happens every 15 years where we change the way we write applications," DeBergalis says. Last time it happened with the rise of the Web was in the late 90's where we replaced the existing applications with applications run on Web servers. Now, instead of writing these things on a web server, apps run right in front of the user, he says.

"That leaves the typical developer high and dry because building those things early in the tech cycle is incredibly difficult." Meteor is the first "off the shelf" solution that allows developers to do that.

  • A previous version incorrectly said Skok and Levine would join Meteor's board; they will act as advisors to the company.