Despite developers being deeply involved with tech company product launches and software upgrades, most company executives have very little insight into how these teams actually do their work or how their productivity could be improved. DX thinks it has cracked the code.
Back in early 2020, DX co-founder Abi Noda was working as a product manager at GitHub and was tasked with figuring out what was slowing down the engineering team. He was given a set of metrics to look into ranging from lead time to deployment, but none provided insight into what was actually impacting or driving those numbers. He decided to go rogue and start interviewing developers. Patterns quickly emerged.
"The assumptions we had about what we needed to help ship products faster were quite different than what the teams and developers were saying was getting in their way," Noda told TechCrunch. "Even teams didn’t always have awareness about their own issues and leadership."
Noda decided to leave GitHub in late 2020 to try to build a better system to identify and fix points of friction within developer teams. He tapped Greyson Junggren, who had years of go-to-market experience at developer logistics companies like GitPrime, to help launch DX.
The platform helps companies identify developer team issues, suggests research-based solutions and tracks progress. DX is now emerging from stealth with 5,000 developer teams from companies including Chime and Upwork on board.
When Noda started building DX, he wanted to make sure it would stand out from other developer productivity tools and focus more on perceptual data — like how stressful a launch was or realistic a deadline is — from the developers themselves as opposed to just output numbers.
After leaving GitHub, he reached out to two of the top researchers in the space: Margaret-Anne Storey, a co-author of SPACE, a regarded paper about the same subject DX was looking to tackle, and Michaela Greiler, who has worked on this issue with companies including Microsoft and Wix. After a year of digging, they identified the 40 most common points of friction for these teams, ranging from poor cross-team collaboration to improper documentation.
"We measure them through the lens of the developer," Noda said. "Other solutions are mostly looking at more topical data on what is happening. We measure the perceptions of developers, which gets at the root cause what is actually affecting teams and slowing them down."
The platform also suggests potential solutions for its users and helps teams compare their productivity to other market competitors, Junggren said.
The 10-person startup is profitable and on track to grow 5x this year, Noda said. He declined to share revenue details, and it’s worth noting that the company has only been selling its product since Q4 2021. DX has raised about $2 million in funding from backers including Preface Ventures and industry executives Nat Friedman, the former CEO of GitHub, and Jason Warner, GitHub's former CTO.
"DX is building a truly novel approach that is much further beyond analytics or pulls," Farooq Abbasi, the general partner at Preface, said. "They are automating a process their customer does in a consultative way."
Now that the startup has emerged from stealth, Noda said it will spend the rest of the year focused on its go-to-market strategy and on hiring — it's hoping to snatch up some of the recently laid-off tech talent.
"DX surfaces insights crucial for leaders," Noda said. "Why are developers leaving? Why are teams less efficient? DX instills a process in the organization where the local teams are constantly having conversations and taking actions."