Crashlytics, With $5M in New VC Bucks, Goes After Huge Mobile Developer Market

4/10/12Follow @gthuang

Crashlytics has a cool name. It’s run by cool guys. It’s all a little too cool.

The truth is, the Cambridge, MA-based startup is solving a really hard technical problem: helping developers fix mobile apps when they crash by pinpointing the line of code (and use case) where the main issue occurred. And as you’ll see, this problem—and the business opportunity—ultimately could be much bigger than that.

The eight-person company has been hard at work, but it is popping its head up today to tell us about its progress. First of all, the startup says its customers now include Path, Highlight, Box, Domino’s, Expedia, ING Direct, Shopkick, Yammer, Zillow, and locally-based apps HeyWire, Kibits, and Where. And second, it has raised a $5 million Series A venture round from its existing seed investors Flybridge Capital Partners and Baseline Ventures (the latter, by the way, was an early investor in that little company called Instagram).

Oh, and Crashlytics has already received an offer to be acquired. Which, of course, it turned down. “We thought it was too early,” says co-founder Wayne Chang. (Chang and fellow co-founder Jeff Seibert, both in their mid-to-late 20s, know something about building companies, having i2hub and Increo Solutions under their respective belts.)

Crashlytics, which just started last year, is taking a long view of things. So far all it has done is proven out an initial market for its technology—which is being used by some 500 organizations with apps on tens of millions of devices, Chang says. “We seem to have hit a need,” he says. “It feels great that we’re able to innovate in this space” where there has been “a giant wave of activity.”

The company’s technical challenges include monitoring tens of millions of crash-reporting events every day, doing analysis on those events, and then distilling the results down to a few top-priority issues for app developers to fix. “It took us a lot of time and engineering to make something that is incredibly difficult into something easy [for developers],” Chang says. “We’re crunching through an incredible amount of data.”

On the technical side, he points out, developers “that use us can reduce their app size by 30 to 50 percent.” That’s partly because using Crashlytics—which entails inserting a snippet of code into the app—means they don’t have to include certain debugging symbols in their code, he says. And that means developers can use the precious space for other features, and so forth.

Crashlytics is available only for Apple iOS apps so far. Look out for an Android product coming soon, Chang says.

Down the road, of course, the business opportunity could get even bigger as “software” increasingly comes to mean “mobile software”—think of the proliferation of tablets, smartphones, and other devices that didn’t exist five years ago. “We see ourselves as a post-PC development tool company. But right now we’re addressing mobile devices,” says Chang. Fast forward a few years, though, to when “tables and walls become interactive through software,” he says, and someone will have to write that software and debug it. Crashlytics hopes to be the one to make that process more efficient for developers, no matter what the platform is. (For now, the company is content to serve the biggest mobile-app platform around.)

One last question: What if Crashlytics itself crashes? Presumably if an app can’t reach the service, it is just unaffected. Chang has a simpler answer. “We don’t crash,” he says.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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