🚴 Interrupting for the better - How is LinearB helping tech leaders build better teams

Their philosophy is that when you try to slow down to incorporate quality concerns, you end up making bulk releases which in turn hampers the quality of code that’s put out.
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Priyanshu Anand
March 15, 2022

Birds of the same feather flock together

Both Dan Lines and Ori Keren have had one thing in common ever since they were young, and that is a passion for building stuff. Although Dan never really wanted to be a software engineer, he lists people like Steve (Jobs and Wozniak) as his biggest influences, the guys he looked upto growing up. He graduated and started a day job which soon enough give him the realization that he didn’t want to work somewhere he wasn’t building something new. Not long after, he moved to a startup called CloudLock where he got what he always wanted - the freedom to build something from scratch. Passion triumphs over stability, every time.

When you’re in a startup, it’s a grind. So, I said to myself, just take it day after day and be your best self every day. And if you pile on one good day after another, positive things will happen. - Dan Lines

Ori was working out of Tel Aviv and had some experience working before he moved to CloudLock. This is when he met Dan and felt that congruency that aligns two people together. Ori went on to become the VP of Engineering at CloudLock and later, Dan too. Even after CloudLock’s quarter-billion-dollar acquisition by Cisco, the two were welcomed under Cisco’s embrace and continued working in their respective positions.

Ori Keren (Left) and Dan Lines (Right)

But things weren’t the same. The reason why they had started working at CloudLock in the first place was because of the opportunity to build and grow. Now, the thing with larger organizations is the number of restrictions and hierarchies that dictate the amount of freedom you have to explore and expand. Not that larger organizations do not encourage an innovative work culture, but some people are just wired differently. Dan and Ori both left CloudLock (or Cisco) within a few months following one another but weren’t entirely sure what the next chapter in their lives would look like.

Enter an idea.

The bicycle syndrome

With the number of tools and automation available, things are increasingly becoming faster for developers these days. And in talking about the idea behind LinearB, Ori says that the development process by the time we hit 2020, was half broken. Considering everything that has happened since, the pandemic forced remote work, taking yet another jab at engineering and productivity.

The mission statement for why LinearB should exist was to help the teams that are building working software to accelerate that process more systematically. The philosophy behind the idea was to include 3 pillars to it, with each one rectifying one problem statement that has been rooted within teams bringing unnecessary chaos and friction to the entire development process. Yes, having visibility into your dev teams is a plus, but just having metrics to determine what the process is like doesn’t cut it. LinearB wanted to be a solution that helps engineering professionals gain more control over production and functionality as a whole.

LinearB dashboard depicting team performance - source

The first pillar - Business alignment is about having a clear picture of where your team is spending their time and efforts. So, if a CEO or a CTO wants to know where the dev team stands, they should have a toe-to-toe alignment with them. The second - Pipeline observability is about knowing where we are at any given point in the process. It’s about identifying bottlenecks and together as a team figuring out what the areas of improvement are within the pipeline. The third - Workflow optimization is about automating sustainable improvement over time by not involving developers in trivial tasks that are hardly beneficial to the process itself.

On talking about keeping things organized in a fast-paced environment, Ori says, “In software, I call this the bicycle syndrome - if you move fast enough, you’re actually in better quality.” Their philosophy is that when you try to slow down to incorporate quality concerns, you end up making bulk releases which in turn hampers the quality of code that’s put out. This becomes a vicious cycle, so it’s always better to stay fast-paced which optimizes the development cycle faster.

Given how both Ori and Dan have had a similar tangent in their career and have seen eye-to-eye on most things, they seem to understand the fundamentals of software development in a whole new light. Ultimately, all this boils down to helping developers deliver better code every day.

Pitch perfect

Perhaps the biggest advantage they had was empathy. They understood the nooks and corners of being a developer. What’s more? Having led engineering teams as a significant part of their career, both of them knew what it takes to orchestrate a team of developers and how difficult it can be at times to really look each other in the eye and say you’ve been productive. Up to 80% of software project time is spent idle, and that’s not good, obviously.

Essentially, this premise is what landed them their first seed investment too. Dan, while announcing their seed round of $1.6 million also made a note of the three lessons he learned in the process of doing so. One - Investors invest in people and not problems. Two - Your pitch can be a deal-breaker, make it count. Three - Find the right investors; someone who doesn’t see your vision will likely turn a blind eye.

Telling a story worked well for us. I believe this was a successful approach because, to me, it seems to be human nature to identify with stories and this helps the storyteller’s overall acceptance. - Dan Lines

Last year, they raised Series A of $16 million to further uplift the brand.

Close to 2,000 software development teams use LinearB to improve their software development process including various startups and unicorns. Some of their recent additions are Mural, Equinix, and Bullhorn. Their revenue has grown 10x and with the recent funding, they’ve managed to grow the team 3x.

LinearB boasts activation of software delivery intelligence for the dev team in less than 5 minutes. All the data within a team is correlated to visualize your development pipeline which means better observability features. You can get contextual metrics in a single click, set and visualize team goals on the dashboard, deploy APIs, create custom dashboards, and get notified about your team’s health if there’s too much on someone’s plate. Doesn’t end there, LinearB tool helps cut project idle time by 60% with automation. Seamlessly integrable interface makes it easy to communicate across platforms. Integrate your Slack channel and review and push notifications for your work automatically. The platform also keeps track of your project delivery to ensure the ends are being met, and most importantly, the whole team is on the same page about it.

LinearB dashboard with an overview - source

Naturally, a company that was built to help people is also big on community. That’s right, LinearB isn’t oblivious to community-led growth and has been doing its part in encouraging engineering teams to become better not just in terms of developments but also in time management, teamwork, and deliverability.

LinearB in the hands of community

LinearB’s community is not just a platform but a resource hub for developers and engineering teams to connect and learn from. Rich in content, our advice, if you’re anywhere near tech, is to head over to their community, but first, a sneak-peek 👇

Dev interrupted

What do you do when you truly care about something? You take efforts, you launch initiatives to do whatever it is that you can. Seeing how they were being able to help the development and engineering leaders, the company realized it was time to make community their guiding star. Help leaders grow together. Interrupting ‘normal’.

Welcome to Dev interrupted which is LinearB’s community knowledge base. A place where content meets community, a place where quality meets consistency. Let’s check out some things the community does.

Discord channel

Starting off, their dev interrupted community server is hosted on Discord which is a place where dev leaders come together and discuss scaling teams, building culture, using metrics, and getting the most of whatever they can from the people there. 1500+ members talk about engineering, development, the product, or maybe even share a meme now and then.

Conor Bronsdon - Head of content and community - making an event announcement on the channel

Articles

Extremely well hand-crafted articles written and curated by a community of tech industry leaders and experts.

Articles by Dev interrupted

Videos

The dev interrupted YouTube channel includes full-fledged conversations as well as short clips that highlight a problem statement along with plausible solutions or maybe just a new perspective.

Here’s a little glimpse of what Perry Trinier, Engineering manager at Fable had to say about how engineering organizations can improve accessibility 👇

Podcasts

Podcasting is a big part of dev interrupted. Hosted by Dan Lines himself, the podcast is home to intuitive conversations and answers to questions straight from engineering VPs, CTOs, and product leaders in the tech space. The podcast page includes a little background on the guest, the issues and topics that are discussed, and the highlights of the episode.

Tune in every week to open the doors to a new story, a new perspective, and a new guest, of course.

The recent episode featured Katie Wilde, the VP of engineering at Ambassador Labs, who talked about what leaders can do to foster a harmonious and productive environment with their devs.

Check out the episode

Events

No community is complete without events. LinearB’s is no different. Events headlining some of the most influential faces in the industry to bring forward an interactive session to ask questions, network, and learn.

INTERACT is a community-driven conference for engineering leaders, VPs, and CTOs, to learn from those who have implemented certain changes in their teams and how has it helped scale sustainable growth over time. Listen to engineering success stories from giants like Netflix, Slack, Stack Overflow, American Express, and more. And it’s free.

The next session is happening on the 7th of April.

Be a part of INTERACT

LinearB Blog

Apart from dev interrupted, LinearB features their blog which includes articles from the people at the company. You will find quite a number of articles written by the founders themself, which just goes to show how invested they are in not just rolling out a product, but in genuinely educating and sharing their thought leadership blueprint for the world to see.

The most-read article is by Ori himself, where he takes a bold move in comparing the VP of engineering and the CEO of a company. Having walked in both shoes, Ori argues that being a VP at times can be a lot more stressful than being the CEO. He talks about how a VP feels out of place in the company because they are essentially not developers anymore, but are also not executives. There’s a disconnect that is difficult to get by.

As VP of Engineering, we spend most of our time translating between two groups of people in two parallel universes. We’re citizens of both, while not fully belonging to either. - Ori Keren (source)

There’s no interrupting dev interrupted

LinearB’s community is on the rise and there is a lot more in the making than what’s already been made. Their Discord channel stays properly engaged and moderated with new members joining in every day. They are 68 episodes into their podcast which by all consensus seems to have taken off pretty well. Guest articles by a community of leaders are always a treat for the eyes. And with global events like the INTERACT conference, LinearB is on the community-led growth bandwagon which they won’t be hopping off from any time soon.


To summarize

Birds of the same feather flock together

  • Dan Lines and Ori Keren joined the same company and got to work together.
  • Finding common ground, realizing they’re not so different in terms of ideologies.
  • Their passion for building something and quitting their jobs because it wasn’t what they wanted.

The Bicycle syndrome

  • The idea behind LinearB and what came to be their mission statement before diving head-first.
  • Bicycle syndrome and the philosophy that helped shape LinearB into what it later became.

Pitch perfect

  • Understanding the pain points in building engineering teams and what they should do as a product to get rid of those bottlenecks.
  • Raising capital for growth for these past few years.
  • How are they helping dev teams work better?

LinearB in the hands of community

  • What is LinearB’s community and what does it stand for.

Dev Interrupted

  • A community of tech leaders and experts to learn and grow together.
  • Discord Channel - A community of 1500+ engineering leaders.
  • Articles - Hand-crafted articles written by industry leaders and experts.
  • Videos - A YouTube channel with great video content.
  • Podcasts - The dev interrupted podcast featuring Dan Lines as host.
  • Events - Virtual events and conferences headlining tech leaders, VPs, and CTOs.

LinearB blog

  • Company’s blog with articles from content experts and even the founders.

There’s no interrupting dev interrupted

  • The future of community at LinearB.


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