Netlify, the well-funded company that, in many ways, started the Jamstack movement, today announced that it has acquired Quirrel, an open-source service for managing and executing serverless functions.
Founded by Simon Knott, who is also the maintainer of the popular Blitz.js React framework, Quirrel never raised any outside funding before the acquisition, which quietly happened in the middle of last year after one of Netlify’s investors made the introduction, as Netlify CEO Matt Biilmann told me.
Given that it has raised quite a bit of money, making acquisitions to accelerate its growth and build out its product makes a lot of sense for Netlify right now. While a few years ago, Netlify still had to explain the concept of the Jamstack, we’ve now seen the rise of a number of competitors, including the likes of Vercel, which itself announced a $150 million Series D round in November — after announcing a $102 million Series C round in June.
This marks Netlify’s third acquisition in total. First, the company acquired the Y Combinator-backed developer collaboration service FeaturePeek in May. In November, it bought GraphQL specialist OneGraph, another Y Combinator graduate, shortly after announcing its $105 million Series D round.
“It’s very clear where we want to be and where we want to go,” Biilmann said. “So, of course, it also starts making it interesting when we see opportunities from smaller startups in the space that are doing really cool and interesting stuff that fits into where we want to go and that feel aligned with the vision we have of what the web could be. For some of those, we will find great opportunities to partner and work together — and for some of those we will find that we will work even better together if we just did it all together.”
While the open source project will live on under the Quirrel name, Netlify has already started integrating into its own platform many of the ideas behind the service. The company first launched its serverless platform in 2018. Since then, it has become a core feature of its service, but scheduling functions and background tasks to run on a regular schedule still remained a bit of a hassle for Netlify developers.
“Those kinds of jobs are important to what developers want to accomplish,” Billmann explained. “I think Simon [Knott] had really nailed some of the developer experiences around how do you not turn that into a lot of configurations and old school lists of cron jobs? How can you get this to feel more like writing code — and then it happens?”
Netlify, of course, operates at a completely different scale from Quirrel, so it’s maybe no surprise that the team set to rebuild a lot of the infrastructure with a focus on keeping the developer experience aligned with the original vision of Quirrel. Billmann described it as working from first principles, not just because of the company’s scale but also because Netlify has a philosophy of ensuring that the core abstractions of its service don’t depend on specific frameworks (Blitz.js, in Quirrel’s case).
Netlify’s new scheduling features based on the Quirrel user experience are now available for free through Netlify Labs, the company’s platform for beta testing new features. That means some of the features may still change and the team is still thinking about how (and if) it will charge for the service. For now, though, Netlify wants to see how developers will use the service and then build out the product accordingly.
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