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Version One

Matt Biilmann, CEO and Co-Founder of Netlify

Apr 4 2021

Listen to the new podcast, Version One, from CodeSandbox on some of the web’s most talked about tools and the makers behind them. In this episode, host Maurice Cherry invites Matt Biilmann to share about his experience with programming and creating programming businesses. He is the co-founder and CEO of Netlify, a modern platform for high-performance apps. It is currently used by well known businesses such as Figma, Shopify, Mailchimp, and Nike.

The episode begins with Matt sharing about his life and career before becoming involved in programming. Matt was a student at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark majoring in music psychology and cultural studies. After college, he began working as a music journalist with programming simply being a side hobby for fun. He shares how he was always fascinated with programming and discovering how it worked. This fascination and hobby began to grow when he moved to Spain in 2004. During his time in Spain, programming became more than a hobby and he was hired as a programming engineer. He eventually became a senior Rails developer at the Spanish company Domestika, which built websites for small businesses all over Europe. During his time at Domestika, Matt lead the engineering teams for the creation of websites.

After his time working at Domestika, Matt decided to create his own business called Webpop. The goal of this businesses was to build cloud hosted CMS services to help increase efficiency in the building of websites. Webpop was a big hit and, while Matt was happy with this business, he felt that it would eventually move away from the one platform origin and application. He shares how he began to have new ideas and visions, and began embracing the new kinds of developing and programming. The results of these visions and desire to expand resulted in the creation of BitBalloon, a series software development platform. This quickly gained a lot of interest, however, Matt decided to expand on this new platform even more.

Next, the conversation moves to Matt sharing about the creation of Netlify from BitBalloon. It all began with Matt reaching out to his friend, and now current President at Netlify, Christian Bach. At the time, Chris had also been busy in the world of programming and had created Capsize Productions. Together with their experience in building businesses and in programming, Chris and Matt created a vision with the goal of offering faster, cheaper, and more secure options. The blueprints for Netlify were created when they began talking and brainstorming for ways to create a product that provided a single solution. In 2015, the vision became a reality when BitBalloon was revised into the new company now known as Netlify.

How did Matt and Chris convince people to use Netlify? This is the question that Matt addresses next as he talks about the importance of having the right “circles”, a core group of early adopters who try new things. These early adopters were able to investigate this new business and then share their experience and feedback with others, allowing for growth in marketing. Additionally, Matt shares how early on they put a big emphasis on content marketing. They did this by publishing two blog posts every week along with open source adoption where they gave away as much as they could for free. These were big voices for the new business and helped it grow to what it is today.

While the company was growing, Matt points out some setbacks they did face. He shares how the biggest setback was simply the fact that in the beginning there were only two people running a big business. This resulted in lots of long, hard work and endless nights of coding. However, this setback didn’t stop them, and in 2015 Netlify really began to take off when they helped Vitaly Friedman and his business, Smashing Magazine. After this, they were able to raise their first round of funding and grow their team of engineers. He concludes the podcast by sharing how the best part of creating Netlify has been getting to use his passion with his best friend to pour themselves into such a rewarding outcome.

Time Stamps

  • 0:14 - Introduction to new podcast: Version One
  • 0:32 - The Host introduces guest Matt Biilmann.
  • 1:08 - Matt shares his journey into programming.
  • 3:11 - Matt shares about beginning working in programming.
  • 4:45 - Matt shares about creating Webpop.
  • 6:20 - Matt explains his new visions after Webpop.
  • 8:59 - Matt talks about creating BitBalloon.
  • 10:00 - Matt shares about collaborating with Chris to create Netlify.
  • 11:51 - Mat explains Netlify and how this company grew.
  • 14:06 - Some setbacks Matt and Chris faced
  • 15:10 - How they overcame the setbacks
  • 16:00 - Matt shares about the rewarding outcome of Netlify
  • To learn more about CodeSandbox and Version One, visit their website here.
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  • To learn more about Netlify, visit their website here.
  • Follow Netlify on FaceBook.