We’re incredibly excited to announce that we’ve just closed a $14.4m Series B investment round, led by OpenView with participation from our existing investors including Threshold Ventures, Aspect Ventures, and GE Ventures.
Balena’s mission is to unlock the potential of physical computing by removing friction for IoT device fleet owners. We believe that edge computing is the next major computing paradigm, and every new computing paradigm needs a scalable development platform to match. We’re building that platform by focusing on removing any barrier preventing mainstream developers from being successful.
The balena platform simplifies device fleet management, so developers can focus on their product, not their infrastructure. We provide tools that make it easy for any developer to build applications for IoT and the Edge.
Globally distributed team
Founded in 2013, balena (formerly known as resin.io) was started by a team of developers who had experienced first hand the frustration of deploying and managing fleets of connected devices. After realizing that no good solution existed, they decided to build a platform for all IoT developers.
Fast forward a few years and the team has grown to 65 brilliant and talented individuals. Starting with our first office in London, we now have bases in Athens, Seattle and Milan, but really we are all over the world; our team is located in roughly 20 countries across 8 timezones.
We embrace a remote-first culture, allowing team members to work flexible hours and encouraging a healthy work-life balance. Carefully selected tools and processes ensure effective communication and facilitate collaboration. Plus, we bring the entire team together for a week-long summit at least once a year, in cities like Athens and Barcelona.
The story so far
It started with containers
In 2013 we announced our first key breakthrough; successfully running Docker on a Raspberry Pi. This solved one of the major challenges of deploying applications to IoT devices, but we still had a long way to go to.
We set out to answer one key question ‘What does a mainstream developer need to succeed on the edge?’ Containers were a great start, but the edge has unique characteristics that require a new platform, one that has been built natively and from the ground up.
Over the last 6 years, we’ve built that platform and launched a complete set of tools to solve the intricate challenges faced by fleet owners:
balenaCloud is a comprehensive cloud-based device deployment and management infrastructure, hosted by balena. It allows even the most novice fleet owner to build applications in any language, seamlessly provision devices, quickly test new features and easily manage their device fleet. Docker container technology enables safe, secure, and reliable updates through a single command while devices remain online and fully functional. Users can view and manage their entire device fleet using the balenaCloud dashboard or they can choose to interact directly with the API.
Whilst we’ve continued to improve and enhance the platform over the years, special mention has to be made for the multi-container feature; one of the most popular feature requests of all time. Supporting a whole new set of application structures and development workflows, multi-container provides a more flexible, modular and secure approach to application management.
Because of the complexity required to work across different network conditions and on a variety of boards with diverse architectures, existing cloud-focused container OS solutions did not fit our needs. At the same time, existing embedded operating systems were not designed for constant updates or containers. We had to create something new, with the best of both worlds, and once we had, we wanted to share it with the world - In 2016 we launched balenaOS as a standalone open source project; a simple yet powerful operating system tailored for containers and built for the embedded world.
Our next big open source release came in the shape of balenaEngine; a container engine based on Moby Project technology from Docker. Using our experience from working in and around the Docker codebase and our intimate knowledge of the unique requirements of the embedded world, we built a custom container engine that shares the Docker components needed for IoT, and is augmented with the specific features that we’ve built out over time.
OpenBalena is the open source version of balenaCloud, and provides the building blocks for developers to host their own deployment and management server to manage balenaOS devices. In deciding which features would be part of openBalena, we focused on the items needed to manage a fleet reliably and included core features from balenaCloud, such as the powerful API, the built-in device VPN, and our spectacular provisioning workflow. It was three years in the making but in 2018 we were finally ready to share openBalena with the world.
In our quest to reduce friction for developers, we couldn’t help but address what we felt should be a simple and easy task but was, in fact, one of the most cumbersome of the entire device deployment process - writing the SD card. We needed a solution that was fast, safe, cross-platform, open-source and of course, a pleasure to use - so we built it, and launched balenaEtcher! Today, Etcher has a growing community of users, flashes over a million images per month and is recommended as the go-to tool by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and many other popular projects.
Earlier this year we took our first steps into the world of hardware and launched balenaFin, our carrier board designed for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 & 3+. The Fin was built to address issues our users, and undoubtedly all fleet owners, were experiencing when trying to scale their hardware. The balenaFin can run all the software that the Raspberry Pi can run, but hardened for deployment in the field.
As we continue to build tools that reduce friction for our customers, the size of the balena device fleet continues to grow at nearly 4x year-over-year. Balena-powered devices are now being used around the world in everything from robotics and manufacturing to transport and building management. We are genuinely excited and proud to see how our platform helps our customers to succeed.
So what’s next?
We are encouraged by the success we see in our customers thus far, and more determined than ever to remove all friction for mainstream developers. Our next steps, as part of the latest round, will see fleet owners have the ability to order devices with a single click and receive them pre-loaded with their software and ready to install. At the same time, we will continue to invest in building innovative infrastructure for our remote team, expanding our ability to offer exciting positions to talented individuals across the world, and a chance to participate in creating the platform for the next wave of computing.
Like balena, OpenView advocates a product-led approach to building businesses. They invest in software companies who have achieved product-market fit and are primed to become market leaders. “We couldn't be more excited to partner with balena and the broader team as they catalyze a new age in edge computing” says Mackey Craven, partner at OpenView, and we are, of course, looking forward to partnering with them in this next phase of our journey.
We’ll use the new funding to help expand our capabilities and continue building products that make the connected world accessible for all, our aim is to be the default choice for developers building IoT projects. We’re excited to welcome new users to the platform and will be working hard to ensure that the benefits of balena are heard, and experienced, far and wide.
Join us in our mission
One of our first tasks will be growing the existing team. Whether you’re an engineer who wants to work on impactful projects or someone with expertise in growth, marketing or sales, who wants to help us spread the word; we are looking for talented people across many areas of the business.
If you’re interested in helping us shape the future of IoT, check out our careers page and get in touch.
Finally, we want to take this opportunity to say thank you to our incredible customers and user community. You’ve helped us make balena what it is today and we wouldn’t be here without you. Your continued support and feedback is the reason we do what we do, and we are looking forward to continuing this journey together.