Sunday 25 August 2019

Stripe executives part of Dark's $3.5m fundraising

Paul Biggar's fourth tech startup has top-end backers, writes John Reynolds

Dark aims to make it easier to build software applications and so-called backend web services, and consists of a holistic programming language, editor and infrastructure. Stock photo: Getty
Dark aims to make it easier to build software applications and so-called backend web services, and consists of a holistic programming language, editor and infrastructure. Stock photo: Getty

John Reynolds

The author of the bestseller The Lean Startup, Eric Ries; Stripe's third employee, Darragh Buckley; and Greg Brockman, a former CTO of Stripe, are among a group of backers who have invested $3.5m in Dark, a software tool startup.

The high-profile backers were revealed in an announcement of the funding, after serial tech entrepreneur Paul Biggar and Ellen Chisa had spent two years quietly working on their firm in Silicon Valley. Its other backers are a group of 10 US venture capital firms and more than 20 other angel investors.

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Dark was co-founded by CircleCI founder Biggar, a Trinity College graduate from Dublin, it has emerged. Aside from being known for his book, Ries also founded the Long-Term Stock Exchange, a new market aimed at investors and companies committed to long-term success.

Limerick native Buckley, an engineering graduate who is also based in San Francisco, previously worked at investment banks Lehman Brothers and Nomura, before joining Stripe in 2001 as its third employee, after Patrick and John Collison.

Brockman, meanwhile, is an angel investor in a number of other tech startups besides Dark. After working at Stripe, he co-founded AI research organisation OpenAI, with a number of co-founders, including the inventor and Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Dark aims to make it easier to build software applications and so-called backend web services, and consists of a holistic programming language, editor and infrastructure.

The firm says it wants to "make it possible to build a complete scalable app in an afternoon" and "greatly reduce time to market for existing companies, and bring the ability to build applications to the next billion people".

Tech community insiders say Dark is similar to, but faster than, Lambda, a computing platform that is part of Amazon Web Services.

Amazon Web Services is a cloud computing giant, on which more than a million organisations, including Nasa and Netflix, run their websites and related tech infrastructure.

Dark's tech lead is another Trinity graduate, Ian Connolly, a software engineer from Dublin.

Biggar remains on the board of CircleCI, the developer of software integration tools that he founded in 2011.

It raised a Series D investment round of $56m last month, and with customers including Facebook, Spotify, Samsung and Ford, the firm is believed to be valued in the hundreds of millions, having raised $115m (€103m) to date.

Biggar spent five years at Trinity studying computer science until 2004, later taking a PhD there, which he completed in 2009.

His previous startups were Edgespace, a software contracting and consulting firm, and NewsLabs, which aimed to help journalists build their brands online, but failed.

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