Penpot, the open-source platform for designers and their coders, draws up $12M as users jump to 250K • TechCrunch

Open source projects continue to stand out as attractive alternatives to proprietary software for those looking for more flexibility or price leverage in the tools they use to do their work. job. Today, one of the giants in the field of design is announcing several grants. plug penan open source platform for designers and developers to collaborate on working in a single environment, has raised $12 million in equity it will use to leverage more users later when reaching 250,000 users this month and 20,000 “stars” on GitHub.

For some context on those numbers, Penpot’s user base skyrocketed last year after Adobe acquires Figma for $20 billion, growing 5,600% to 100,000 users within a few weeks. That momentum is still strong, if not overwhelming: Penpot’s 250,000 users today represent a 500% user growth rate.

Pablo Ruiz-Múzquiz, CEO and co-founder of Penpot, said in an interview this week: “The design battleground for the next few years is clear and it is who will win over the innovators. develop.

The logic behind Penpot is to create tools that designers will use and love, but that will also be adopted by their developer partners – the audience that design tools have so far have yet to capture, let alone build or target. It is essential to bring in the cooperation process earlier than usual. “Developers outnumber designers by a ratio of 10 to 1. So while Figma has 1 million accounts there are only designers, which means they’ve eliminated an audience. important. Sure, we want more designers in the world, but we keep getting more developers.” Building something that both can use at the same time, he said, “is a huge opportunity for Penpot.”

This funding will be used in part to build more tools that can be used both in the cloud and in self-hosted and local environments; and indeed, the news is coinciding with Penpot launching some of these beyond beta which speaks to how it’s built with parallel coding and design sensibilities.

These include a new “Flexible Layout” toolkit for building responsive layouts in CSS; a tool that allows users to exploit browser memory to increase caching for collaborative projects up to 16GB (2GB is the industry standard limit to date); better code checking features; more flexibility to add occasional contributors to a project; and more.

All of these, as with all Penpot, are completely free to use as the company has yet to offer any kind of paid feature or service. Therefore, the long-term questions are not only whether Penpot can continue to attract a large number of users of its open source tools, but whether Penpot can find effective ways to monetize the platform. to keep them there or not.

This latest round is being led by Decibel, the VC . company affiliated with CiscoIt was also the beginning of Series A worth $8 million which it announced in September 2022; Other existing supporters – including some famous angels and Athos – also joined.

Ruiz-Múzquiz says the round is somewhere in the “Series A+” region: it’s not part of the Series A that preceded it, but it is a clear precursor to Series B. Kaleidos — the startup’s parent company of Penpot and Ruiz-Múzquiz’s real name confirm the company — doubled its valuation in this round, though he did not disclose the actual figures. Another detail: he said that Kaleidos could have raised as much as $20 million in this time period – an indication of some of the best-known startups and those finding a lot of traction. did not face the same fundraising difficulties as some other companies in this field.

The arrival of the Penpot comes at the confluence of a few other developments.

Adobe’s acquisition of the popular design tool Figma has sent shockwaves through the design community, with many anticipating that the deal will mark the end of the product as they know and love it. based on Adobe’s larger agenda around selling its proprietary design and marketing tools. At the same time, we’ve seen growing interest in open source alternatives to existing products: after another major M&A over the past six months — Elon Musk buys Twitter at $44 billion — a lot of that platform’s users, also worried about its future, are trying out alternatives, with a federated approach, Mastodon’s open source code is winning now the most attention.

Take those two together and you have the perfect Penpot storm: for designers and their partners exploring things other than Figma, unleashing the potential of open source, this is it. a product for them to try.

And they did: there are now more than 20,000 teams using the product, including teams at Mozilla, Accenture, ByteDance, IBM, Google, and Microsoft. The capital city of Runa ROSS index Note that this is one of the fastest growing open source projects at the moment.

The highlight of Penpot is that it has created an extremely versatile product compared to others on the market, especially compared to Figma. You can use it as a cloud-based SaaS or hosted in your own environment. The platform allows programmers and designers to work on the same job simultaneously in real time: a big change from the way these two groups of users work today, where Regular wireframes can be put together by designers and only then handed over to programmers to build into those specifications. Of course, that will lead to a great deal of time and money as a project grows, goes through the process of managing that process, and any changes that occur along the way.

What’s remarkable about this fundraiser and the startup itself is that it is building in a very similar way to pre-Covid-19 as far as business models are concerned. That is to say, it is not focused on revenue at all, or even playing with where and how it can charge for services or features, but instead keeps the barrier to entry. at a very low rate by making all of today’s Penpot tools free to use.

Ruiz-Múzquiz said this is something their investors highly recommend at the moment. “Jon [Sakoda, one of the founders at Decibel] told us, ‘Don’t get distracted by paid enterprise features. That will come. It is more important to create tools and plug-in architecture, which will lead to more value. From there, you rely on what could be great for businesses,’” he said.

One of the things that the growing interest in open source means is that some investors are sniffing around the field to add their own “open source” startups to their portfolio. Surname. What’s interesting is that Decibel sees Penpot as a place for activism at a time when some of the other digital experience building work is being adopted by other technologies.

“Penpot is the first platform that allows designers and developers to collaborate closely and deliver a great user experience. Sudip Chakrabarti, a partner at Decibel, says its momentum is testament to the pent-up need for tools that seamlessly support one’s native workflow and enable iterative cross-functional teams. fast. “Technologies like Creative AI are unleashing tremendous creativity among designers and developers, and we are proud to continue to support Penpot so the team can make the most of this moment.”


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