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Vercel (formerly ZEIT), a platform that enables companies to develop, preview, and ship web apps, has raised $102 million in a series C funding round led by Bedrock Capital. CEO Guillermo Rauch said the funding — which values the company at over $1 billion — will be used to scale the Vercel team globally, supporting R&D and driving platform innovation in the process.

The challenges that plague web app development are common to app development more broadly. Fifty-seven percent of respondents to a recent Statista survey indicated that staying current with new languages, frameworks, and tools was one of the most pressing issues they faced. An estimated 19% to 23% of software development projects fail, and Standish Group found that “challenged” projects — i.e., those that fail to meet scope, time, or budget expectations — account for about 52% of all software projects.

Vercel created Next.js — an open source frontend development web framework delivering functionality that includes server-side rendering and generating static websites for web apps. It powers React, an open source JavaScript library for creating user interfaces that is maintained by Facebook and a community of developers and other companies.

Vercel

The original author of Next.js, Rauch helped launch the project on GitHub in 2016. Since then, Next.js has attracted notable donors, including Google, that have helped prune unused JavaScript and reduce overhead time. Next.js now has more than 1,600 contributors and 6.2 million downloads, and the number of homepages — among the 10,000 websites in the world using the framework — has risen by 50% since October 2020.

“With the backend commoditized by cloud infrastructure, Kubernetes, and off-the-shelf APIs, Vercel believes that creativity and innovation in advancing modern web and cloud application development are increasingly happening at the frontend.  Vercel is a modern web development platform to develop, preview, and ship high-quality, high-performance websites, fast,” Rauch told VentureBeat via email. “With Vercel, web developers no longer need to be highly skilled in building both the front and backends of websites. Now developers can focus on the frontend in Vercel and offload backend tasks to plug-in APIs.”

Next.js inside

Vercel’s mission is to provide the estimated 11 million JavaScript developers in the world the workflow to develop Jamstack sites, Rauch says. With Jamstack (which comes from “Javascript, API, and Markup stacks”), the app logic typically resides on the client side, without being tightly coupled to the backend server.

“Vercel provides significant benefits to companies who are dependent on the performance of their websites to acquire revenue either through ecommerce or delivery of their services. By building and hosting on Vercel, their websites are more performant. They are faster, they are more reliable, and they are more secure,” Rauch said. “Vercel also provides significant benefits to companies with large product and engineering organizations that need to ship great software. As soon as they start pushing code, they have a live preview deployment that can be shared with stakeholders. No code is wasted, and the engineering team stays aligned with the needs of the business the whole way through.”

Vercel says it adds a live-editing experience for UI components and flexible data fetching to the Next.js formula, allowing developers to connect webpages to any data source, content management system, or API. Vercel also offers integrations with GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket, as well as a deployment system that triggers with every code change and preview links that can be shared across platforms.

Vercel

Beyond this, Vercel operates a content delivery network (CDN) that sits between the internet in 70 cities globally and Vercel deployments, receiving over 12 billion unique requests per week. The company claims the CDN serves 9 petabytes of data, scaling from millions to billions of web pages through dynamic code execution.

“As organizations increased their dependency on online interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, they discovered that their existing applications were not only slow but also not very engaging,” Rauch added. “The more satisfied customers are with an online experience, the more likely they will return to that website.”

Among the 25,000 customers using Vercel’s platform are TikTok, Hulu, Ticketmaster, McDonald’s, IBM, Uber, Staples, and Marvel for use cases such as ecommerce, travel, news, and marketing, according to Vercel head of infrastructure and IT Matheus Fernandes.

“I joined Vercel because I saw a place and a team that were working both intensely and enthusiastically together to solve some of the biggest scaling and performance problems that web developers face in creating the next big thing,” Fernandes said in a statement. “The combination of expansive vision and flawless execution is inspiring on a daily basis, and I am glad to be a part of it. I would recommend Vercel to anyone who is truly committed to creating change for the better for the future of the web.”

Accel, CRV, Geodesic Capital, Greenoaks Capital, GV, 8VC, Flex Capital, GGV, Latacora, Salesforce Ventures, and Tiger Global also participated in Vercel’s funding round. The company, which has around 75 employees, has raised a total of $163 million to date.

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