Val Town's Seed Round

Steve Krouse on

We raised $5.5m in a round led by Accel. Dan Levine has been a spiritual co-founder for Val Town since before the first line of code. He led our $1.5m pre-seed in August 2022, and is now joining our board.

Val Town is a social website to write and deploy serverless functions. Create websites, APIs, and crons from your browser. For example, you can:

Val Editor with annotations showing different val types, publicly hosted url, 100ms deploys, ai suggestions, etc

Our mission is end-user programming. Everyone should be able to build software, tailor apps to their needs, and automate their lives.

I fell in love with programming as a kid. LOGO is a programming language that lets you control a turtle on the screen. You can make it move forward, turn, and draw lines. I still remember the feeling of empowerment when I figured out how to draw a square.

LOGO turtle drawing a square with the code `repeat 4[fd 10 rt 90]`

Seymour Papert, the creator of LOGO, had a theory. If French kids learn French simply growing up in France, could kids learn math better by growing up in “Mathland”? He created LOGO to be such a Mathland for kids to naturally assimilate powerful mental models: a debugging mindset, precision, abstraction, modularity, and a warm feeling of ownership over these skills.

I learned to imagine myself in the turtle’s shoes and walk out the route I wanted it to follow, and then encode that route into code. Later in calculus, I was able to effortlessly assimilate the concept of a derivative: I imagined myself walking along the curve, and the derivative just was my orientation at any point. To my classmates, it looked like I was smart. I was just a kid who had grown up in Mathland.

Val Town is not an educational tool. It’s a pro tool for building real software. But it is designed to be learnable. Programming in Val Town should feel more like editing a spreadsheet (live, fluid, reactive) than using a traditional IDE. Like the spreadsheet, Val Town is where beginners start and big companies scale core infrastructure. Come for the code hosting, stay for the community, and become smarter along the way.

We believe that code is still the best interface (so far) to build applications. But knowing how to code isn’t enough to ship useful software. There is so much around the code that needs to happen: setting up a development environment, setting up a deployment environment, scaling, logging, monitoring, version control, persistence, etc. How many times have you had an idea for a little website, API or cron, but gave up? We want to make it so fast and fun to solve problems with code that you actually ship all those wonderful ideas you have to improve things for yourself, communities, and workplace.

In Val Town, you write code and hit save. Your code is immediately deployed. Everything you need is right at your fingertips: logging, monitoring, versions, error tracking, persistence, scaling, and more. Every Val Town account comes with a hosted SQLite database, blob storage, the ability to send and receive emails, and limited OpenAI access.

If we don’t include something, likely someone in Val Town community has already built and shared it. You can just import it. We’re a social coding platform, with hosting built-in, so anyone else’s public code is instantly runnable within your own account. A fork is like an install. There’s nothing to setup or deploy.

Nico’s SQLite Explorer is a good example of our community at play. It’s a handy admin view for your built-in SQLite database. Nico’s val imports from dozens of other vals, from @postpostscript, @pomdtr, and @andreterron.

Val Editor with annotations showing different val types, publicly hosted url, 100ms deploys, ai suggestions, etc

I found this list of dependencies by – you guessed it – another community val, Robert’s Dependency Graph Viewer.

Dependency Graph Viewer showing the dependencies of Nico's SQLite Explorer

Our community is also really good at requesting features. This funding will let us grow our team to ship many of your wonderful requests: make vals faster, more reliable and secure, easier to find, organize, collaborate on, install, branch, test, and share. We’re building the place where you write the first line of code that becomes your next side project, internal tool, or startup.

We care deeply about sustainability. We’re building Val Town to be around for a long time. We’re growing our team slowly, commensurate with revenue. We’re building a business model that aligns with our users and a platform that is open and interoperable.

We are excited to have so many heroes, friends, and advisors joining our cap table. It takes a village town: Tom Preston-Werner, Guillermo Rauch, James Lindenbaum, Adam Wiggins, David Cramer, Simon Last, Calvin French-Owen, Matt McClure, Zapier’s Investment Fund, Tod Sacerdoti, Cristina Cordova, Matt Brezina, Ben Vinegar, Chet Corcos, Devon Zuegel, Sebastian Bensusan, Linus Lee, Michelle Lim, Dan Shipper, Shawn @swyx Wang, Meagan Gamache, Yasyf Mohamedali, Daniel Marcotte, Nick Arner, and Jordan Scales.

Val Town is a small team that ships quickly and dreams big.

Val Town team photo

Max, Steve, Tom, André

We’re hiring a design engineer and generalist engineer in Brooklyn. Join us!

The next time you have an idea for a website, API, or cron, build it on Val Town.

Thanks for helpful feedback, Dan Levine, Tom MacWright, André Terron, Max McDonnell, Matthew Williams, Max Bittker, and Rodger Krouse. Thanks Yagil Burowski for taking the photo of our team.

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