Investing in Faros, the engineering bottleneck-breaker

Why we’re leading a $16M seed to change the future of engineering operations with Faros

 

Economics has been called the dismal science, and the same label could be applied to software project management. Despite best efforts by very smart people, many if not most software projects end up with missed deadlines, frustrated engineers, disappointed managers and customers, and plenty of politicking after the fact about who should take the blame. My own introduction to this reality came during my very first job out of college as an engineer on Oracle’s database server team about 20 years ago — it was basically taken for granted that schedules would slip and it was part of the duties of a manager to make sure their group wouldn’t be the first to admit they’re causing the whole release to slip and be the fall guys – so you could hide behind someone else’s slippage while trying to get your own team caught up. They don’t teach you that one in college!

Lots of ink has been spilled on reasons for engineering bottlenecks and what could be done. Fred Brooks’ “The Mythical Man Month” is a classic of the genre originally published in 1975, so the problem was recognized a half-century ago. There have been many purported solutions: waterfall to agile, test-driven development, productivity tracking software, and the list goes on. Still, there hasn’t been a silver bullet, and in fact, many of these solutions had the opposite of the intended effect.

Just one example: when IBM started using lines of code as a measure of output, it encouraged bloated code and the opposite of engineering productivity. Maybe another (can’t resist): engineers tend to dislike JIRA because it focuses them on closing the most recent tickets instead of the big picture of shipping product.

The Faros team has experienced these issues first-hand, so they built something better.

Vitaly, Shubha, and Matthew felt the pains of engineering bottlenecks while they were at Salesforce together helping to lead Salesforce’s Einstein team, and in their prior roles at companies like Linkedin. With Faros, their approach to the problem was to recognize that software engineering projects are inherently complex, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that can solve the problem of managing them — software engineering is an art AND a science.

What all software engineering projects could benefit from was better visibility into who’s doing what, so that engineers and managers could apply their judgment using the most complete data. Joining data from version control systems, issue trackers, team org charts, CI/CD systems, Faros can give teams a unified map of what’s happening. Additionally, the Faros team had the insight that because no two software development organizations are alike, their platform had to be very flexible and allow for maximum customizability.

Faros founders (from left): Vitaly Gordon, Matthew Tovbin, and Shubha Nabar

By combining a unified data model with the flexibility to customize, Faros puts the most complete data about any software project into the hands of the people running it while leaving value judgments aside. That’s the art Faros leaves to the humans while it takes care of the data part – the science. With Faros, teams ship products faster with fewer resources, and engineers enjoy their jobs more so they stick around longer.

When I first met Vitaly and the team, this vision was just starting to crystallize. Just as Faros helps engineering teams focus on what’s important, SignalFire does the same for our portfolio companies by assisting them with recruiting, growth, and PR. For example, our resident data science PhD Olivia Angiuli helped Faros build customer lead lists to speed up their go-to-market motion.

Fast forward two years, and today we’re thrilled to see Faros announce its $16 million seed fundraise. And more important than the capital are the terrific customers like Box, Coursera, Salesforce, and GoFundMe who are using Faros to ship their software projects on time and on budget.  If you’re a software engineer or manager who’s interested in checking them out, please go to https://faros.ai/ or just drop me a line. Break those bottlenecks and get back to building!

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