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Rethinking Build vs Buy

The true cost of building
June 22, 2022

We’re about eight months into our journey and have met with hundreds of companies, so inevitably our investors and advisors ask us about competition and trends we’ve seen in the market. While we believe there is a lot of momentum in the space (we’re tracking over 100 companies), our answer to date is always that our competition isn’t another company, it’s the status quo of “in house build.” Truthfully, our company is looking forward to the day we can say “we’re in battle with company x/y/z”, but I think we’re a little way off.  

In the  developer tools universe, the status quo is to choose from dozens of tools, configure them yourself and stitch them together. Even the concept of building an internal development platform isn’t really what’s being thought about by most folks, they’re simply doing what the rest of the market does, because that’s how it’s always been done and feels natural. Most teams really only think about setting up their tooling at the outset of a project (or at other big moments in its life). What they don’t realize is that while the setup is often a concentrated moment of time and effort it’s actually all the work that’s done down the line to troubleshoot, maintain and enhance their toolchain that compounds over time. 

So if you think about it, the conversation we should be having isn’t build vs buy, although that’s been covered well. It’s really build/maintain/enhance/support vs buy/integrate. This isn’t just specific to our space. In my previous role our customers would ask us to help them justify the ROI in bringing Braze on board vs building a messaging system in house and oftentimes they overlooked the fact that they would need to continuously maintain and enhance their system in a market that was continuously evolving. 

This equation from divbyzero sums it up well:

At Coherence we’re in the early innings of helping to create a new category of tools that will radically enhance developer experience. Our vision is to focus on integrating and maintaining the various pieces of the toolchain using tools that are already broadly accepted vs re-building them ourselves (kind of meta). We strongly believe that developer resources are precious and there is much more business/product specific work that teams can focus on. They should let us worry about the common 80%. Coherence is the technology to buy for people that historically liked to build.