Guillermo Rauch creates Vercel to make websites better and faster


Front-end web development is the process of converting data into a graphical interface, so that users can view and interact with that data. Front-end developers combine elements of design and programming to create websites or mobile apps.

And while HTML was once the primary programming language for front-end developers, today it’s built almost entirely with JavaScript. And one of the tools used to work in Javascript, Next.js, is helping to revolutionize front-end development.

Its author is self-taught software engineer and front-end web developer, Guillermo Rauch, who transformed his free tool on Github into a fast-growing SaaS company called Vercel.

“The DNA of the company and my career as a developer have been in the front-end space. The first thing that really sparked a passion for programming for me was the ability to run client side code inside the browser. Vercel has evolved as a platform to democratize access to global edge network tools to make these front-end-based applications really fast, really convenient, ”says Rauch.

Founded in 2015, Walnut, California-based Vercel helps companies that would otherwise have to hire and recruit front-end infrastructure teams by giving them the tools to build on the web, the main component of which is open source. Next.js. frame which has become one of the most popular in the category. The Next.js framework uses the JAMstack architecture, which distinguishes between front-end and back-end and enables efficient front-end development that is independent of any back-end API. The company is positioned as allowing frontend teams to do their best.

Next.js is built on the revolutionary engine called React that Facebook and Google pioneered in creating their real-time news feeds, allowing real-time commenting, liking, and sharing, which required a lot of code on the side. client to make this possible.

“The React component is now almost 100% adopted and every modern business standardizes what I have sometimes called the ‘Lego break for adults’. Because it is very compossible, easy to use and it saves us a lot of time. Next.js took that engine and gave businesses a way to build entire systems, applications, and websites, allowing them to reuse open source component libraries to become very prolific web creators and editors, ” explains Rauch.

Once Rauch made Next.js available on Github, its adoption was almost immediate among a wide range of developer teams in companies of all sizes. “I think that when you start a start-up, it’s a bit easy to get recognition from other start-ups, your peers and your community of developers. And we certainly had that because I’m a longtime open source contributor, but we actually had something special that happened, that companies started to embrace it right away, ” explains Rauch.

Rauch further referred to the growth of the tool as a silent process, as Next.js was somewhat controversial in that it focused on server rendering technology, or what is known as multipage applications. Back then in the JavaScript world there was a lot of enthusiasm for the opposite. Developers used client computation to build single page apps. “And that’s why the adoption has been a little quiet in a lot of ways, because what’s going on, companies like Zillow, Trulia, Hulu, companies that we operate on a very large scale have been like, ‘no, I can’t do all the math on the client. ‘ The community was excited. But the biggest companies in the world immediately adopted it, ”explains Rauch.

He believes the tool and the company’s rapid adoption and growth is a result of building both a cloud platform and a more efficient development framework and has seen the future development is starting to blur the lines between cloud and software.

Today, the fast-growing company has nearly 100 employees with front-end teams at leading brands like Grammy’s, Facebook, McDonald’s, Uber, Trip Advisor, and The Washington Post as clients. As a result, the company has attracted $ 163 million in funding to date, including its latest $ 102 million Series C funding round led by Bedrock Capital, giving the company a valuation of $ 1.1 billion. . Other investors include Accel, CRV, Geodesic Capital, Greenoaks Capital, GV, 8VC, Flex Capital, GGV, Latacora, Salesforce Ventures and Tiger Global.

Rauch grew up in Argentina, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. His parents were industrial engineers and chemists. His father in particular realized early on that his industry was outdated and that computers were the future. “So that’s what led him to invest every extra penny he had in building computers that he didn’t even know how to use. But I kind of lost interest in the material very quickly, although we were interested in the beginning, especially when I discovered open source and the ability to scale so fast and collaborate with others on. Internet. But it all really made sense to me when I discovered JavaScript, ”says Rauch.

He became proficient enough to take on freelance developer roles from an early age and was working as a consultant at the age of 13. “When I was 17, I was in a very famous public school in Argentina. And it was almost at the crossroads of my destiny because I could continue on the academic path and continue to have good grades and go to college. Or on that side, every night, I talk to the engineers at the newly created Facebook and all these exciting start-ups, ”says Rauch. He dropped out of high school, created a very popular framework called Socket.IO that Microsoft used when they invented Office 365 and Live, and started traveling and speaking at conferences, before founding Vercel.

As for the future? “I would like to see a global transformation in the way software is built. So I think today, first of all, developers are in high demand. But they can be a lot more productive than they are today because they don’t have to reinvent all of those bespoke pieces of infrastructure. One of Vercel’s goals is to make the web faster, better and more collaborative. And one of our goals is to lower the barrier to entry. We believe that the front-end web development process itself can be much more collaborative and instantaneous than it currently is. So today, if you’re a front-end developer, you probably have to spend a week setting up your development environment, installing all the utilities, all your pillars, your whole tool chain. And what happens is that all the software moves inside the browser, including the creation of the software itself, ”concludes Rauch.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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