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Our Investment in FireHydrant: A Better Approach to Managing Complex Systems

May 20, 2020

We’re extremely excited to announce our investment in FireHydrant and to back Bobby Ross and his team. FireHydrant’s focus on incident management is timely, as a wide variety of systems are experiencing unprecedented spikes in load and the digital and remote coordination and resolution of issues is a must. FireHydrant brings process and automation to incidents and eliminates reactive responses.

Systems reliability issues are unavoidable. Incidents relate to uptime and performance which can profoundly impact revenue and customer experience. Most organizations today, address incidents reactively, relying on a patchwork of repurposed tools. Having “lived the problem” with first-hand experience as Site Reliability Engineers (SREs), the FireHydrant team has solved these exact problems in the wild (or “firefighting,” as they say). These experiences gave the FireHydrant team a unique perspective on both the extent of the problem and the dearth of good solutions. FireHydrant recognized the need to systematically—and repeatably—address these problems with an end-to-end platform. And that’s what they built.

Our interest in FireHydrant sparked from a conversation with Jonathan Lehr, Partner with our friends at Work-Bench Ventures, during AWS re:Invent (Fall, 2018). re:Invent is largely a devops and infrastructure focused conference and we were riffing on various unsolved, neglected workflows in the devops landscape. We’re big fans of devops and I have personally invested in Puppet, AppDynamics, and Harness.

Jonathan brought up the emerging SRE role and best practices being established in the space around incident management. He was early in working with an entrepreneur who was a former SRE (Bobby) who was developing something for this workflow. I was all in. I first met Bobby in the winter of 2019. I stayed close, reaching out every couple of months to see how things were progressing and being helpful when possible on positioning, introductions, etc. Early in 2020, he was demonstrating early product-market fit. I felt the time for this was now, so we ran a quick process and signed a term sheet at the end of January this year—back when all this could still happen in person!

Driving our conviction was the belief that there is a huge opportunity to build a platform around the SRE process. Systems reliability is a massive problem with huge financial implications. If the system isn’t up, revenue is lost and customers and partners are unhappy. The surprising thing is that, despite most modern software organizations having sizable SRE teams responsible for keeping the system up, few companies have graduated beyond excel spreadsheets to manage the process of responding to and resolving incidents.

In the devops stack around incidents, you have monitoring/logging, alerting, incident response, communication, and post mortems. Monitoring is a large and mature category with the likes of Datadog and AppDynamics; alerts are led by PagerDuty; and incident response/communication/post mortem functions are covered by a variety of general tools such as Microsoft Word, email, Excel, Slack, etc. through a somewhat bespoke basis at every company. For a function that is key and so directly correlates with revenue and customer satisfaction, it’s unacceptable. Companies need a platform that understands the incident and helps address what should be done, why it happened, how to fix it, and then correlate it with past events so teams are able to drive to a resolution more efficiently when similar problems crop up. This is exactly what FireHydrant built.

A fire alarm doesn’t do much if there isn’t something like a fire hydrant nearby and a team and infrastructure to put out the fire. We look forward to working with the FireHydrant team on building the next great devops company!