David Smooke

@DavidSmooke

Building the First Independent Marketplace for Developer Services

Founder Interview

Disclosure: Manifold, the developer marketplace, has previously sponsored Hacker Noon. Use code HACKERNOON to get $25 off any service.

Today we’re going to catch up with Manifold co-founder Matt Creager to find out how he sees the future of software development, where Manifold is headed, and what makes him do what he does

Could you share some details on Manifold’s progress, what have you learned since your recent launch?

We couldn’t have predicted how excited developers would be by the prospect of an independent marketplace for developer services, an expanded selection of services on any cloud and the potential to avoid some of the pitfalls of cloud lock-in. We’ve been blown away by the reception and feedback we received during our beta.

In terms of progress, we quickly discovered that developers want to be able to manage the services they build, alongside the ones they discover on Manifold.

To that end, we’ve introduced custom services, which haven’t been announced yet and two new integrations for Kubernetes and Terraform — which launched today.

You have a pretty wild & interactive company story, centered around a community being walled in with bland rations. Do you think developer services are too silo-ed? Why is that?

What mix of your services are made by the same company you buy compute from?

If you’re on AWS, I bet you use SES, RDS, etc. The question is, do we use these services because they’re the best, or because it saves us the hassle of having to set up another account and manage another billing profile?

All things being equal, you’d select a service based on features, quality of docs, developer experience, support, etc. Except that in the real world — our options are limited based on where we buy compute — that’s messed up.

You are building out a hub of developer services. Which pairing of developer services are most common amongst Manifold users? And how are you prioritizing which new developer services will be added next?

It won’t surprise you to hear that almost every project includes JawsDB Postgres and LogDNA. Then, depending on the project we usually some form of queue either Redis Green or CloudAMQP by 84 Codes. So, the usual suspects.

We have two new services on the horizon: Graphcool, a GraphQL BaaS/framework and IOPipe, who offer serverless monitoring. I expect you’ll see more services in the GQL and serverless on the platform soon.

Each of the services currently available on Manifold has been handpicked. We want to work with partners that genuinely care about and are committed to developer experience and the open-source community.

If that describes a service you’re building or using, drop me a line!

What is Manifold’s business model?

Manifold is free for developers. We don’t charge additional fees for access to teams, access controls, integrations and don’t plan to. You also won’t pay more for a service you buy on Manifold.

That probably leaves you wondering how we make money? We’re wondering the same thing 😂

You list your job as Engineering and Developer Relations, and previously you were Director of Developer Relations at Heroku. How do you balance writing code with managing large communities of developers? And taking a step back, what is a week like in your founder life?

I’ve always considered programming as much a hobby as a profession, and so until I became a founder, I never struggled to find time to build things. So, what does a week in the life look like?

We’ve just shifted gears and started to scale up. Nick Tassone and I built the first version of Manifold’s dashboard with React, Redux and a bunch of other cool libraries and truth be told, I miss those days. We have a fantastic front-end team, so I’d just get in the way 😭

Now, I’m building developer relations and product marketing teams.

Director of Developer Relations at Heroku is a great job. What advice would you give to the next engineering leader who is considering leaving their good job to lead their own startup?

When you start a company, you convince yourself that the stories of burnout must be exaggerated for dramatic effect; they’re not.

You’re going to make sacrifices, the sooner you recognize that the sooner you can start consciously prioritizing the things you’re not willing to sacrifice. My daughter was born shortly after we founded Manifold and my co-founder and CEO just had his third. We probably don’t get as much time in front of the Xbox as we might like, but we won’t miss an opportunity to spend time with our kids.

You recently raised a $15M Series A. What did you learn from this funding raising process? And could you give us the high level view of how you are going to spend the money?

It probably comes as no surprise with the growth in developer services, but there’s a healthy appetite in the market for products built either for developers or with developers in mind.

If we’re going to build an independent ecosystem of developer services, we need a cloud agnostic solution for managing credentials. The Terraform and Kubernetes integrations we launched today are a start, but we believe developers should be able to use their favorite orchestration tools, languages and frameworks, without worrying about managing credentials — so, we’re going to continue to invest in integrations.

Software development changes fast. In five years, how do you think the day to day work life of the software developer will be different?

I think we tend to overestimate how much things will change in say the next two years and underestimate how much things will change in the say five years.

Five years ago, we were talking about web 2.0, we were using.. what v0.8.0 of Node. Today, the enterprise has broadly adopted Node and.. Are we still on web 2.0? Ok, some things never change.

In five years? This is going to be fun:

  • Some combination of web technologies will be used to build interfaces for AR, VR, and hardware
  • We’ll spend a considerable amount of time working in AR, VR — especially those working on distributed teams
  • Automated testing be it unit, integration, visual regression, etc. will be powered by machine learning
  • We’ll have a thriving ecosystem of developer services at our disposal, it will be cloud agnostic and it will be called Manifold 😏
  • There will be a new front-end framework

I see on your community page, you support Babel. Could you speak a bit to Babel’s value/meaning to you? And in general, how do you support the open source community?

Our front-end projects, our homepage, dashboard, etc they all depend on Babel. Babel has made it possible to use modern javascript while supporting every browser. A luxury we want to make possible on the server, imagine if you could use any service with every platform?

Everyone on the team at Manifold is given the opportunity to support the projects they use on a daily basis. We also try to open-source everything we believe might be useful — from our release tool Promulgate to a tool that powers the interactive prompts in Manifold CLI called promptui.

Many of the providers on Manifold are active in the open-source community too, we’re working on ways we can surface this information on Manifold.

Stay up to date with Manifold:
Follow— @manifoldco, Manifold
Read — Manifold Blog
Watch — Manifoldco
Like— Manifolddotco

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