Like most people who first experienced computing in the 1980s, I had to be a terminal user, even if I just wanted to play a game or send an email. Since those early days, modern UX techniques have made computing far more accessible for every type of user, except programmers who still use the command line terminal every day. These programmers are subject to an experience frozen in time, and it's increasingly difficult and anachronistic for new developers to learn.
The command line terminal traces its roots to the dawn of computing. Widely loved but left almost completely unchanged in the last forty years, the terminal is a unique piece of software: it lets developers directly execute tasks with speed and precision and no GUI. Every other developer tool has experienced massive updates in UX and functionality over the last several years, and today the terminal is finally getting its long-awaited upgrade. Warp has set out to create a terminal that is easier to use, collaborative, and adapted for developers building applications for the cloud. By making this core tool more powerful, Warp has the potential to improve the productivity of every software developer around the world.
In early 2020, I spent a lot of time with fellow Google alum and Warp founder Zach Llyod discussing potential startup ideas. When the idea of re-inventing the terminal came up, I was excited to go on a journey to help every software engineer. Shortly thereafter, GV led Warp's seed financing. Today the company announced its public beta and combined $23 million in seed and Series A funding.
I sat down with Zach to discuss his experience as a principal engineer at Google. He was a lead on Google Docs and helped build Google Sheets, and he discussed how this work inspired his vision for Warp, reimagining the command line terminal from the ground up for modern developers.
One of our key product innovations is to take a very outdated desktop software and make it cloud-native, collaborative, and workable for teams.
"One of our key product innovations is to take a very outdated desktop software and make it cloud-native, collaborative, and workable for teams," he explains. "We did it for office productivity software when I worked on Google Docs. With Warp, we're doing it for the terminal. From an engineering and product perspective, what I learned at Google translates directly to what I'm working on right now."
From a UX point of view, some of Warp's functionality I'm most excited about is also the most simple. Warp is purpose-built in Rust, super-fast, and designed with intent for modern workflows.
"I know a lot of terminal power users," says Zach. "One of the early product inspirations was building a terminal that makes that power accessible to all developers and not just the power users who spend a huge amount of time configuring a non-friendly tool."
"Today, every company is a software company," he continues. "Every company wants its developers to be more productive and their systems to be more reliable and secure. The terminal sits at the locus of all of those things," he said. "This is an opportunity to make developers more reliable and make systems more productive. Warp will help a lot of developers get a lot more done."
Warp's collaboration features are well-suited for a world where remote development teams are becoming the default rather than the exception. I'm thrilled to welcome Zach and the team to the GV portfolio!