Q&A with Cloud9 co-founder and CEO Ruben Daniels

By Editor July 15, 2011

Cloud9 logo

Cloud9 is a cloud-based, collaborative Integrated Development Environment. The Amsterdam-based startup recently raised $5.5 million in Series A funding.

SUB: Please briefly describe Cloud9, and the value proposition you bring to the market.

Daniels: Cloud9 IDE provides the first commercial cloud-based Integrated Development Environment for JavaScript incorporating HTML5, and supporting Python, Ruby and PHP. Developers can access, edit, and share projects anywhere, to build, test, debug, and deploy web and mobile applications in as little as half the time, with fewer technical skills.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Daniels: As the first commercial Development as a Service, or DaaS, platform featuring debugging, collaboration, and mobile access, we are in a unique position. Our main competition comes from legacy desktop tools, such as TextMate, VI, and Emacs. The core of developers still follows the Eclipse/Java model, which doesn’t directly compete, since it lacks cloud-based development and integration. Other cloud services out there at this time are simply projects, not commercial platforms.

SUB: What are the primary differentiators Cloud9 offers that distinguishes you from the competition?

Daniels: None of the aforementioned competitors come remotely close to our refined UI and the number of developers both creating the product and using it. Furthermore, these competitors seem to have a much less aggressive roadmap for collaboration, partnerships and actual features than Cloud9 IDE. As of now, these others are not competing, however they do aim for a similar space as we are.

SUB: How are you marketing/promoting Cloud9?

Daniels: We started out with a very successful kick-off at Demo Spring this year. We are using a mix of progressive media coverage and word-of-mouth buzz with targeted social coverage. Thus far we received a fair amount of thought leader and enthusiast blog recognition, a growing presence of passionate followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook, that have been leading to actionable clicks, paving the way for broader recognition.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind Cloud9?

Daniels: Building applications for the cloud on local computers required developers to simulate cloud environments locally and to do that be system administrators rather than developers. We saw the need for a cloud-based IDE for which web development and JavaScript were the core focus. We wanted to create an alternative to Eclipse variants and other Java or C++ IDEs, where extending and customizing applications is done in either Java or C++, and is generally very difficult to use. We figured that if you develop web applications to run online, why shouldn’t your application development be online too?

SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?

Daniels: Rik and I started out with Ajax.org a couple of years back. Ajax is a group of technologies combining HTML and CSS to mark up and style information. The resulting document object model (DOM) is accessed with JavaScript to dynamically display information and allow the user to interact with it. Cloud9 IDE, Inc. is the company that creates Cloud9 IDE. Cloud9, in effect, builds on top of Ajax.org’s UI technology to offer a cloud-based IDE. We saw the need for a cloud-based IDE for which web development and JavaScript were the core focus. We wanted to create an alternative to Eclipse variants and other Java or C++ IDEs, where extending and customizing applications is done in either Java or C++, and is generally very difficult to use. On March 1st 2011, we launched the fully commercial DaaS platform, featuring debugging, collaboration and mobile access.

SUB: You recently closed a $5.5 million Series A funding round. How do you plan to use the funds?

Daniels: We will employ the funds to consolidate our leadership in the emerging cloud-based Development as a Service (DaaS) segment of the $8 billion application development market. The new funds will accelerate support for multiple languages, platforms, and cloud/mobile SDKs. To reach the ambitious development goals, we will expand our Amsterdam development team and open a new U.S. headquarters in San Francisco.

SUB: Why was now the right time to raise outside funding?

Daniels: We had a core team ready to tackle an ambitious development plan. The added funds enable us to step on the gas by again expanding our Amsterdam development team, and by opening our new U.S. headquarters in San Francisco.

SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?

Daniels: While I wouldn’t rule that out should new opportunities arise, our current funding round, together with revenues from our growing customer base, should be sufficient for the foreseeable future.

SUB: What have the biggest challenges been so far to building Cloud9?

Daniels: Deciding what to do first. In moving to a cloud-based development model there are so many exciting ways to make developers more efficient, that we’re like kids in a candy shop. For that reason, it was critical to lay out a comprehensive development plan, while keeping a close eye on user feedback.

SUB: Where do you see Cloud9 in about a year from now?

Daniels: We want Cloud9 to be the premier online development environment for JavaScript and HTML5 developers, providing DaaS (Development as a Service). Cloud9 aims to be more than an IDE by providing the entire infrastructure a developer needs to start, run and debug a project, without hassle. We have a huge roadmap for Cloud9. There is language analysis so you get autocomplete, warnings, templates, refactoring and so on. Collaboration, with Google-docs style multi-user experiences is coming up, and many integrated services for different languages, testing and rollout. We have a lot of work to do.

Cloud9 – www.cloud9ide.com