Trunk, which pools open source tools to help developers check and format their code, raises $25M

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Trunk, a platform that provides developers with real-time code correction to help them “land code faster,” has raised $25 million in a series A round of funding, and launched a new web-based version of its product.

While writing code to build new features is a central part of many developers’ jobs, they’ll often spend much of their time fixing coding errors identified by various in-house automated tools. This means they have to transition away from a new task that they have started, and go back to an “old” job they thought they’d finished. While this constant “context switching” is generally accepted as part of a developer’s workflow to ensure that they ship bug-free code, it consumes a lot of time and mental resources.

Shift-left

Founded in 2021, Trunk essentially moves most of these automated checks and test “left” in the process, so that they are integrated neatly into a developer’s workflow at the point of writing code. It’s designed to save on context-switching, and ensure that when a developer moves on to their next task, they stay on that task.

The Trunk platform constitutes Trunk Check, available in beta now, which manages the discovery, installation, configuration, and execution of an extensive library of open source checking tools, spanning linters, static analyzers, and auto-formatters suitable for the repository in question.

So rather than reinventing the wheel, Trunk builds on the work done by countless other developers, and brings them all into a single channel for easy access.

“The open source community has built thousands of fantastic checking tools for every language and technology, but very few projects actually use them because they’re hard to discover — and harder still to integrate into the workflow of a developer,” Trunk cofounder and co-CEO David Apirian told VentureBeat.

Developers install Trunk on their machines, and they can access it either through a command-line tool or the VS Code extension, while a GitHub Action enables them to integrate Trunk with their CI workflow so that check results are posted in-line on pull requests.

As of today, Trunk also offers a web app, which syncs with the local Trunk installation to give organizations actionable analytics around the code quality and any security flaws across the repositories.

Furthermore, Trunk is also developing a product called Trunk Merge, which orchestrates the process of merging pull requests “to maintain a repository of code that always passes all your tests.” This is currently in preview, and is open to early access applicants now.

So for now, Trunk is all about checking and formatting code, but in the future it will extend its focus to testing and merging code too.

The state of play

A quick peek across the competitive landscape reveals a slew of similar-sounding tools, from Snyk and SonarSource, to Code Climate and beyond — there are no shortage of tools for checking codebases for quality and security. But Trunk is striving to differentiate through offering a more extensive offering, one that leans on the tried and tested tools of the broader community.

“No one else is trying to build a holistic and consolidated experience for developers,” Apirian said. “We’re better in that we leverage the checking tools of the open source world, instead of providing proprietary checks on your code, which ultimately makes for better results. We want to both leverage and empower the open source world, in addition to bringing value to enterprises, as opposed to purely focusing on enterprises.”

In terms of pricing, Trunk is pitching several plans, including a free “team” tier for up to ten developers, while an enterprise plan ushers in unlimited users and unlimited use for private repositories, as well as early access to upcoming products. On top of that, Trunk has committed to offering its smarts for free for unlimited users on open source projects.

While the core Trunk platform is closed source for now, “that could change in the future,” according to Apirian

“What we’re really selling is ‘developer experience’ in a box,” he explained. “We’ll charge one rate for our entire toolset, of which Trunk Check is the first piece.”

The story so far

Prior to founding Trunk last year, Apirian worked in various software engineering roles at Uber, most recently serving as “head of autonomy systems and simulation platform” at Uber’s self-driving car unit. And it was this experience that Apirian is taking into his new role at Trunk.

“We were building the guts of a self-driving car at Uber, but what plagued that project — with 600-plus engineers — was the complete slog it was to make a change and actually push it through to the main branch,” he explained. “We got really involved with fixing Uber’s developer experience, because it kept bubbling up to be the number one problem the organization had.”

The problems at Uber aren’t unique to Uber, and likely plague companies of all sizes — but the problem becomes more pronounced the bigger the company and product is.

“Engineering at large enterprises can be best described as death by a thousand paper cuts — our software accelerates engineering in virtually any development environment,” Apirian continued. “Companies start to feel the pain points we are addressing at around 5 engineers, and by the time they have 50 engineers, they are drowning in developer inefficiencies.”

Trunk had previously raised $3.5 million in a seed round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, and the Silicon Valley investor co-led Trunk’s series A round alongside Initialized Capital. Other institutional and angle backers include Haystack Ventures, Garage VC, and GitHub cofounder Tom Preston Warner.

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