Channel-friendly automated incident response startup StackPulse exits stealth with $28 Million Series A

StackPulse uses DevOps best practices and software to automate incident responses across platforms, ensuring uptime and reliability. Unusually for a startup in this space, they are doing this with a channel out of the gate.

Portland Oregon-headquartered StackPulse has emerged from stealth with a $20 million Series A funding round led by GGV Capital. The startup, founded last year, automates incident response and remediation in what they term the replacement of traditional IT services management with continuous reliability management. They collaborate with traditional alert-based systems, and are hitting the ground with a channel-friendly Go-to-Market model, working with DevOps-focused partners.

Everyone and their brother in the IT space today seems to be on the automation bandwagon, but StackPulse believes they have focused on a key pain point in rethinking the way that incident response and remediation is automated and managed, which they see as the next step in the evolution of DevOps.

Josh Thorngren, StackPulse’s VP of Growth

“The industry has made it easy for developers to ship cloud applications to production, but things often go wrong when there is an incident, because that part of it, which has been ITSM’s role, has not kept up,” said Josh Thorngren, StackPulse’s VP of Growth. “We are a reliability platform for software and services, which reads signals and helps reaction when there is a problem.”

ITSM platforms are also designed to solve these kinds of issues. The limitation, Thorngren stressed, is that they are platform-specific, and focus on the automation of issues around their specific platform.

“Companies like Datadog, which is a partner for us, provide all these signals about applications, such as what caused the problem and who they need to communicate with during the fixing process,” Thorngren said. “Our difference is that we have seen the rise of developers using code to own every phase of the software lifecycle. We take that same principle, use code rather than IT practices to automate incident response and remediation, determine the root cause regardless of where it comes from, automate the response, and make it available for a team to run.”  This facilitates better maintenance of uptime and reliability.

This is critically important, but it’s something that organizations have been doing manually, said Brian Lake, StackPulse’s COO.

“They haven’t been using one tool for this,” Lake stated. “Most companies today have made an investment in written code and developed that themselves, with custom scripts. They use Ansible or another automation tool, or use an ITSM like ServiceNow, or build the functionality into the PagerDuty’s of the world. This is because there hasn’t been a tool that makes this easy to do in a standardized way. A lot of what we help with are pieces they don’t have or have had to manually stitch together, in the same way that Puppet replaced a lot of manual steps around configuration.”

StackPulse sees the market for this as fairly broad, and not just limited to large enterprises with very complex environments.

“It’s ultimately for anyone building software at scale,” Lake said. “It can be a smaller company, where its their whole business, or a larger one, where it’s a part of the business. We also appeal to early adopters like telco and high tech, who tend to partner with people rather than do things on their own.”

Unusually for this space, StackPulse is building the channel into its Go-to-Market strategy out of the gate.

“Building the channel business from the ground  up is not terribly common in DevOps,” Thorngren noted. “We’ve done this in the past, and are building a DevOps-centric reseller-first company that supports customers worldwide.”

Brian Lake, StackPulse’s COO

“I’ve worked at Microsoft and Oracle – companies with different perceptions on the channel, and many smaller companies like TwistLock and Puppet, and channel first from the beginning is a valuable thing to build in to the way you go to market,” Lake said. “Many companies wait until they get to a larger size to do this, and so they don’t have the channel-first DNA. We want to make it easy to partner with us. We already have partners, especially in geos where we can expand our reach, like Nuaware in the U.K.”

“With a growing number of companies adopting microservices and cloud native practices, it’s important to build a frictionless DevOps pipeline,” said Luke Hasty, Nuaware’s Managing Director. “At Nuaware, we’re focused on helping cutting edge enterprises successfully adopt best in class DevOps & Cloud platforms. The StackPulse team has a proven record of successful channel partnerships, and we couldn’t be more excited to be working together with them to bring the StackPulse reliability platform to market.”

“We take partnering seriously, and are looking for a good partner in each region,” Lake added. “Our goal is not to create confusion, duplication and conflict, but to support partners.”

The $20 million Series A round brings the total amount raised to $28 million, including a previously undisclosed $8 million seed round less than a year ago led by Bessemer Venture Partners, which also participated in the Series A. Glenn Solomon at GGV Capital and Amit Karp at Bessemer will join the StackPulse board of directors; Oren Yunger at GGV will join as a board observer.

StackPulse will use the new funding to invest in global growth, to invest more in sales and marketing, and to scale up engineering hiring for further refinement of the StackPulse platform.

“The core elements needed to deliver reliable services are all there today, and are around the understanding, remediation and collecting and learning from data,” Thorngren said. “The pillars are there. It’s more about growing the experience and further enriching it, not expanding new functionality.”

That enrichment will include a free edition of the Reliability Platform, which StackPulse will announce in the weeks ahead.

StackPulse will host a panel to discuss the future of reliability with The New Stack on January 20. To attend, please register here.