Flox raises $27 million to bring Nix to more developers •

    Nix, the open-source tool for creating reproducible builds and deployments, is growing in popularity among developers, but it’s not always the easiest service to work with. So it’s no surprise that we’re now seeing a new wave of startups looking to bring Nix to more developers by building the tooling needed to bring Nix to the enterprise. One of which is phlox, a startup that makes it easier for developers to use Nix and that platform’s massive repository of curated packages, while adding even more collaboration and other business features. The company announced today that it has raised a $16.5 million Series A round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), bringing its total funding to date to $27 million.

    Flox was incubated at DESCOvery, the venture studio of the multinational hedge fund DE Shaw. Other backers include Addition and Hetz, as well as angel investors such as GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke, Snyk founder Guy Podjarny, and former Docker VP and Microsoft for Startups CTO – and now Sotheby’s CTO – James Turnbull.

    The company was co-founded Ron Efroni and Michael Branley. Like many Israeli startup founders, Efroni started at Unit 8200 of the Israeli Defense Forces and went on to found two Chicago-based startups before joining Facebook (when it was still called Facebook), where he ran that company’s developer products arm. Brantley, meanwhile, has an academic background and worked at Rice and Princeton, where he ran the Unix interoperability lab before joining DE Shaw in the mid-1990s. At DE Shaw, he was responsible for building the group’s release engineering infrastructure. That’s also where he met Nix and started building the tooling for DE Shaw to make it easier for his internal developers to use.

    “We found [Nix] challenging, to be honest,” Brantley explained. “But we were able to wrestle it into submission by putting a layer around it. That’s ultimately what DE Shaw’s own venture arm saw as a potential commercial opportunity and turned into phlox.

    For a while, the two co-founders were “pretty much in a relationship,” as Brantley put it. Since that was successful, the two are official launched the company last October. Until now, Flox remained in beta, but the flox open source platform is now open to everyonewith plans for one enterprise version later this year.

    “The whole mission was that Nix is ​​an incredibly powerful technology and we want to bring it to the global stage, to more developers,” explained Efroni, who also serves on the board of the NixOS Foundation. “We set out the mission statement of two things that are much easier said than done with Nix. One is to reduce the barriers to adopting the Nix technology. And on the flip side, bridging the gaps in the venture – putting Nix to work with all things Michael [Brantley] what has been worked on is just inherently necessary for even a company to consider using any technology.

    As the team argues, the way enterprises build software is changing, with ever larger codebases and increasingly complex software dependencies, while cloud-native technologies have changed the way these applications are deployed. Nix promises to streamline the build and development process by making it easily reproducible and enabling developers to share their development and build environments in a declarative manner.

    The core of this is the Nix collection of multilingual packages, which currently contains about 80,000 packages and which Flox also relies on. “It is the largest collection of curated build recipes for public domain software available. It’s incredibly up-to-date compared to any Linux distribution – and because it’s built with Nix, it can run on any Linux distribution, side-by-side with everything that came before, so any integration plans anyone might want to do can do this step by step at their own pace.”

    Flox then wants to provide developers with what Efroni called “a happy path” that makes it easier for them to adopt Nix.

    “Building and deploying software in a reproducible, secure manner is perhaps the biggest challenge developers face today,” said Aaron Jacobson, Partner at NEA. “Flox recognizes that the innovations within Nix solve this challenge, but they come with the cost of a steep learning curve. By creating an easy-to-use platform around Nix, Flox increases productivity for developers around the world while making their software more secure.”

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