CEO Shlomi Ben Haim, CTO Yoav Landman, and chief architect Fred Simon
Gemini Israel Ventures, Qumra Capital, Vintage Investment Partners, Battery Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and VMware
"JFrog is a place where you get up in the morning and smile, you’re challenged and led to stretch yourself in ways you never thought you could, and where you’re sorry when the day’s over. That’s a huge experience," says JFrog CEO Shlomi Ben Haim, who founded the company together with CTO Yoav Landman and chief architect Fred Simon. The "huge experience" that Ben Haim is talking about includes 1,000% growth in sales between 2012 and 2016, with the company expecting to exceed $100 million revenue in 2018.
Its list of customers includes giant corporations like Apple, Netflix, Morgan Stanley, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz - as Ben Haim puts it, "the top 10 in every industry are our customers," adding, "Thank God, knock on wood, but for me, it’s a kind of miracle that we have 4,000 customers of the caliber of Apple and Google. This shows that we’re solving a real problem."
Just what is JFrog? The company provides services for software updates and distribution, including automated storage and distribution. "Our vision is to be behind all the software updates in the world," Ben Haim declares unhesitatingly. The "pain" that the company cures is the fact that software updates are part of the user experience. "Once upon a time, it would have sounded logical to have the computer tell you that you have to turn it off and start to run software updates. Today’s generation doesn’t understand this, and wants to be up-to-date all the time," Ben Haim says, and gives two examples that clarify the problem. "Google recently came out with a software update, and deleted all the configurations on all the routers, so that people had no Internet for 24 hours. Tesla did a software update, and people couldn’t start their cars for three hours."
JFrog provides automation tools for updating software by updating "pieces" of software, so that the user is unaffected. It is not just updating software for a computer or a mobile phone. Ben Haim is also talking about Internet of Things (IoT) apps, such as the smart home. He says, "Today, on the average, each person operates 14 smart devices around him or her. All of these need software updates, and that’s where we want to be."
JFrog was founded in 2008, and started by developing an open code product provided free of charge. "When I saw that it was being adopted, and that it solved a ‘pain’ in management and distribution of software files, we decided to provide commercial tools," he explains. Even now, together with the commercial version, which includes additional features, the company offers a free version, and Ben Haim says it regards that as a mission. According to him, JFrog’s competitors operation in specific niches, whereas JFrog provides a universal solution, and is in 80% of the software projects starting in the world. Competition also comes from internal solutions of companies updating their software, but "in a world in which there is a need to update software several times a day, it’s becoming impossible," he declares.
JFrog has raised $62 million to date, $52 million of which was in 2016. The company’s investors include Gemini Israel Ventures, Qumra Capital, Vintage Investment Partners, Battery Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, and Scale Venture Partners, while VMware is a strategic investor in JFrog. "The founders still own a substantial stake in the company," Ben Haim emphasizes. Asked whether the company is planning a Wall Street offering in the future, he replies that the company is thinking about it, but will do it only after it completes the development of two new products providing an end-to-end solution in 2018. "If we’re able to create full automation and complete streaming of software updates without the computer having to turn itself off, then we’ll have something to offer, and we’ll go to Nasdaq. Having a story at a level of awareness that will affect people like you and me, not just programmers, is more important than the dream of an IPO. If you watch Netflix now, you won’t have any software update in the middle of Game of Thrones broadcasts."
JFrog recently also used some of the money raised to date to acquire three companies: one in India, one in Spain, and one in Israel.
Is JFrog itself likely to be acquired?
Ben Haim : "They’ve already called us twice, two very large software companies in Silicon Valley, and of course you realize that we refused. I’m not sure that we’re ready to be sold, or that someone is ready to buy us, certainly at the price level we have reached, which reduces to five or six the number of players that can pay what JFrog is worth. But in any case, we’re more concerned about building an excellent company that will grow rapidly, and will be a home for employees giving it everything they have. With these 250 employees I can go anywhere; even if I were to open a restaurant, I’d take the same people. Nothing we’ve done is worth anything without the amazing ‘frogs’ that work in this company."
By the way, where did the name come from?
"A frog has two characteristics: it's the only animal that can jump only forwards, not backwards, and it's an animal that lives both on land and in the water. It’s a hybrid, like us."