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CI/CD / Containers

CircleCI buys Distiller to Support Mobile App Development

Dec 17th, 2014 3:57pm by
Featued image for: CircleCI buys Distiller to Support Mobile App Development

Continuous integration and continuous delivery startup CircleCI has made its first acquisition, Distiller, to add support for testing iOS and Android apps.

“When we started talking to Distiller earlier this year, their focus was on building an iOS CI product that was really high quality and solved these cumbersome problems. It was exactly the same kind of process and the same kind of product we had been building for people who do CI for web applications,” said Paul Biggar, co-founder and CEO of CircleCI.

“When we started building Circle, we wanted to bring a Heroku-type experience to CI and take away all the difficulties in setting up continuous integration and setting up people’s builds, make it an incredibly seamless and low-touch experience, and that was exactly what Distiller was talking about for iOS.”

Distiller’s three-person team joined CircleCI earlier this year, but the acquisition wasn’t announced until the integration was complete. CircleCI now has 21 employees. The company serves more than 1000 software development teams including Shopify, Cisco, Sony, and Trunk Club.

Distiller has been more focused on iOS, but added Android expertise to CircleCI’s Android support that Biggar conceded “needed some love.”

“With iOS, the problems people have are getting repeatable builds – it’ll work on one machine, but not another – there’s the difficulty of setting up Xcode in the developer tools, so seeing Distiller solving in the same high-level, high-quality way that we were, it was an obvious match from our standpoint.”

Now the company’s architecture is split between a data center of iOS machines and Linux containers that run on Amazon Web Services.

It’s a hot space with competitors including CloudBees, Codeship,, Semaphore, Travis CI, Shippable as well as HP and other big-name vendors.

Competitor Electric Cloud added similar capabilities with technology in October.

Both integrate with Git repositories and as developers write code, they test and allow developers to deploy apps through partner services such as TestFlight, which Apple acquired in February, and HockeyApp.

Automating downstream processes is vital for companies such as Etsy, with releases more than 50 times a day.

“The big differentiator we have is the big focus on what do companies need to be more productive. …From day one — and this has been Distiller’s focus — how do people making web products and apps get their teams to be significantly more productive and just ship code faster. Everything we have is all about commercial web teams building stuff faster. …It’s all about velocity for development teams,” Biggar said.

CircleCI announced in February that it had raised $6 million in funding from venture capital firm DFJ on top of a $1.5 million round the previous year. It announced support for Docker containers in August.

Coming in early 2015: support for Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).

“A lot of enterprise customers want to run their own instances of Circle on Amazon. … We have a version of Circle in alpha that will run on their own AWS accounts and that will connect to GitHub Enterprise,” Biggar said.

The link between faster software releases and increased revenue is boosting traction for continuous delivery in the enterprise, according to independent analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates.

Ninety-three percent of companies using continuous delivery in its survey reported increased revenue of at least 10 percent while that was true of only 7 percent of companies not involved in continuous delivery.

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