Linear raises $13 million to streamline software development projects

Linear, a project management tool and issue tracker for software development teams, has raised $13 million in a series A round of funding led by Sequoia Capital. The raise comes amid a surge in demand for tools that help remote teams work more effectively, and with every company effectively morphing into a software company (to varying degrees), Linear hopes to sit at this intersection and enable businesses to manage their myriad projects with less friction.

Linear is aimed at engineers, designers, and product managers, who use the platform to map their projects and coordinate around common tasks that they’re working on. As the company proclaims, it wants to be the “issue tracking tool you’ll enjoy using,” while streamlining multiple facets of software projects, across tasks, sprints, and bug tracking.

In-sync

Everything that happens in Linear is synchronized for all users in real time — or, at least, in fewer than 100 milliseconds — while it packs a bunch of keyboard shortcuts for those who like their keys hot. It also helps developers create issues in seconds, with the ability to preview and embed full Figma designs. Other notable integrations include GitHub, GitLab, and Sentry, and teams can receive updates and create issues directly from Slack.

Above: Creating a new issue in Linear and adding a Figma link.

Any action can be accessed and completed swiftly from the command menu.

Above: Any action can be accessed and completed in seconds with the command menu.

Speed, ultimately, is the name of the game here, and Linear hopes that a slicker approach to issue tracking will help it win more fans.

“Building software today is complicated, and is becoming more so,” Linear cofounder and CEO Karri Saarinen told VentureBeat. “Software industry practices and tools have become stagnant, and many teams are struggling to manage and coordinate their work day to day — especially in a remote environment. Teams also struggle because existing tools are not truly optimized for anything, but offer all kinds of ways to customize them. This makes it hard to get developers to use these tools when it’s not really designed for them.”

Saarinen stressed that Linear has adopted an “opinionated” design approach, rather than enabling “endless customization” options.

“Linear has the right defaults for fast-moving teams, which means companies can adopt it quicker and keep making progress,” he said.

Alongside today’s funding news, Linear is also rolling out a handful of new features, including a new roadmap tool for setting milestones that are tethered to broader company goals, while it has also added a new OAuth2 authentication method to make it easier to develop extensions to Linear.

Above: Linear: Roadmap.

In terms of pricing, Linear operates on a SaaS model with a free tier, which escalates to $8 and $12 per user per month for teams that require more integrations and features.

Distributed

Founded initially out of San Francisco in 2019, Linear — like a growing number of companies these days — has pretty much operated as a distributed workforce since its inception. It currently counts eight employees spread across the U.S. and Europe, with engineers and designers from illustrious tech companies including Microsoft, Slack, Uber, and Coinbase. Saarinen was most recently principal designer at Airbnb.

“Along with my cofounders, we worked at several startups and delivered large-scale projects at Airbnb, Coinbase, and Uber,” Saarinen explained. “During these experiences, we saw how much time was wasted because of the existing tools and processes — or lack thereof. Linear’s aim is to unwind this complexity by developing new practices and tooling built around the developer workflow — ultimately, speeding up the coordinating and communicating work to help teams actually focus on product building.”

Linear had previously raised a $4.2 million seed round of funding led by Sequoia last year, and this time around it added a number of notable backers to its roster, including Stripe CEO Patrick Collison; Dick Costolo and Adam Bain, aka 01Advisors; and Harry Stebbings, the 20 Minute VC. With another $13 million in the bank, the company said that it plans expand its team and invest further in product development.

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