Our Seed Investment in Fermyon

By Renee Shah and Sunil Dhaliwal

We’re always looking for the next technical primitive that will change the way that software is built and deployed. We studied the shift to VMs and then to containers, and we had a strong thesis that the third wave of computing would be server-side WebAssembly. We also look for founders who embody excellence within a deeply technical area. And when we meet these founders coupled with a solution that impresses us and everyone we talk to, we do everything we can to get involved. That has never been more true than when we met Matt Butcher and Radu Matei, co-founders of Fermyon.

If you’ve been in the cloud-native ecosystem, chances are you’ve touched multiple pieces of software authored by Matt and Radu. They have worked together on container technologies for over a decade: as a part of Deis team, they wrote Helm (22,000 Github Stars), Brigade (2,300 Github Stars), Krustlet (2,900 Github Stars), and Matt wrote the widely-referenced “Illustrated Children’s Guide to Kubernetes.”  Through their extensive experience with containers, Matt and Radu started to see the limitations of the technology – namely, speed, cost, portability, and security – and began working on WebAssembly to solve some of  these problems while at Microsoft. We first met Matt in 2019 through his work on Helm, and when he shifted his focus to WebAssembly in 2020, this was a sign on its own that WebAssembly was something worth paying attention to.

Separately, we had been doing our own research on server-side WebAssembly. We were intrigued by the concept of a lightweight module that could seamlessly move between client, server, and edge, and we saw that the elusive dream of “write once, run anywhere” may finally be possible. At the same time, WebAssembly was starting to get picked up in practical applications within large enterprises like Shopify, Cloudflare, and Fastly, and with developer love that felt almost religious. That said, we knew that the developer experience and core infrastructure for server-side WebAssembly was still lacking.

They say chance favors the prepared mind, and when Matt and Radu reached out to us about a potential startup, we were beyond excited. Matt and Radu had already been on our short list of founders we wanted to back, and even better, they wanted to spin out of Microsoft alongside 7 other engineers to start Fermyon. Given that hiring well is one of the biggest challenges for early-stage startups, we knew that having an experienced team “ready to go” would give Fermyon a huge leg up.

And so today, we’re thrilled to formally announce that we led a $6 million seed round in Fermyon, alongside the launch of their platform. Fermyon is a WebAssembly PaaS, combining a web interface, package manager, orchestration system, templating, monitoring, logging, and caching. With Fermyon, developers can build sophisticated, end-to-end WebAssembly applications in a matter of seconds without 90% of the boilerplate code. Fermyon provides developers with several key benefits:

  1. Low cold start times
  2. Near instant scaling
  3. Significant cost savings
  4. A secure sandboxed environment

The key to building great PaaS companies is nailing developer experience and giving developers the option to inject their own opinions. The beauty of Fermyon is that it is self-serve, open-source, and exposes powerful experiences, allowing developers to leverage the building blocks that make the most sense for their workflows. With Fermyon, developers can create web applications, microservices, batch jobs, or event-driven machine learning. We were convinced that Fermyon could capture the hearts and minds of the many developers who already wanted to build with WebAssembly.  

Beyond having a product vision that we believe in, we ultimately bet on teams, and Matt and Radu are some of the most well-rounded founders we’ve ever met.  They are well-known in developer communities for excellence in their craft, yet they are unwaveringly humble, eager to learn, and focused on being great leaders for their team and for developer communities at large. We are deeply grateful everyday for the opportunity to work with the best engineers in the world. Welcome, Fermyon, to the Amplify community!