Start-up creates tools to take pain out of software development

Start-up creates tools to take pain out of software development

SINGAPORE - Programming a Web application is far too complicated to do on a simple Web browser, right?

Not any more. Nitrous IO, with an office in Singapore and in San Francisco, has created a software tool that lets programmers do just that - even dramatically speeding up programming time.

It has convinced top-tier Silicon Valley venture capitalists (VCs) that it is possible to write a Web application using only a Web browser, without tying the program to a PC.

It raised US$1 million (S$1.26 million) 10 months ago from VCs such as Bessemer Venture Partners and Draper Associates.

Singapore investors in this round are Golden Gate Ventures and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin who lives here.

Nitrous co-founder Andrew Solimine said that the 14-month-old company is valued in the tens of millions of dollars.

To develop its product further and to expand its usage, Nitrous is looking to raise US$5 million to US$10 million by year-end.

Currently, about 35,000 developers, mainly early adopters and enthusiasts, are using the product, he told The Straits Times in San Francisco last week.

Nitrous software tools make software development lightning-fast, and easier to create, configure and share, he said.

"The software emerged from my own experience. I had a laptop at work and a desktop computer at home. It was pretty difficult to coordinate software development between home and work and across a team."

Whenever a new developer joins a team, it is tedious to ensure that all his software tools are updated and that all correct components are installed, he said.

By using the Web, developers skip this process and just code on the Web. "Their work is stored in the cloud. Any new software tool updates are done automatically, they don't have to worry about all of that.They just focus on their development which they can do from anywhere and on multiple devices."

Mr Wong Meng Weng, co-founder of tech accelerator Joyful Frog Digital Incubator, said Nitrous is subversive in that it leaves PCs out of the equation and leads software developers to code on the browser.

"To build a Web application, programmers usually code on a PC. But the subversive goal of the Web is to liberate users from their PCs. Web apps can run in any browser; it doesn't matter if that browser is running on a Mac or a PC or a smartphone."

He described Nitrous as radical and audacious. In hindsight, what Nitrous is doing is obvious as "it was only a matter of time before somebody did it". "Equally inevitable is Google's acquisition. It's only a matter of time before they buy it," said Mr Wong.

The software is free now but the start-up will start charging for subscriptions next year. Mr Solimine did not give the price.

The other two co-founders are Singaporean Arun Thampi and South Korean Peter Kim. The three co-founders are based in Silicon Valley but travel here frequently. Their link with Singapore began with Action IO, a software firm Mr Solimine founded and which was backed by Mr Saverin. Action IO is now closed.

Mr Saverin and Mr Solimine were classmates at Harvard University. It was Mr Saverin who convinced Mr Solimine to come here to start Action.

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