Reverse proxy startup ngrok raises $50M in funding

Reverse proxy startup ngrok raises $50M in funding

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San Francisco-based startup ngrok Inc., the developer of a reverse proxy platform used by more than 5 million developers, today announced that it has closed a $50 million funding round. 

The Series A round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Coatue participated as well.

In the enterprise, network requests sent from one server to another often pass through a system known as a reverse proxy before reaching their destination. The reverse proxy checks that network requests meet cybersecurity requirements and blocks potentially malicious traffic. The system also helps with certain other tasks, such as optimizing cloud infrastructure usage.

Founded in 2015, ngrok sells a popular reverse proxy platform of the same name. The platform’s flagship selling point is that it’s easier to use than competing products in the category. According to ngrok, its reverse proxy can be deployed with as little as one line of code.

Companies can use ngrok to ensure that data traffic sent to their applications travels via encrypted connections. For added measure, the platform provides the option to protect connections using a security method known as end-to-end encryption. This method ensures that not even the ngrok reverse proxy implementation through which a company’s network requests travel can decrypt them.

Another task for which ngrok can be used is processing the login requests sent to a cloud service. According to the startup, its platform provides the ability to implement single sign-on capabilities to streamline the login experience for users. Single sign-on is a cybersecurity approach that enables a company’s employees to access multiple work applications with a single password.

Besides improving cybersecurity, reverse proxy platforms are also used by organizations to perform load balancing. As part of its feature set, ngrok provides a load balancer that the startup says is easier to configure than competing alternatives. 

A typical enterprise application runs on not one but multiple servers. Each server processes a portion of the network requests sent to the application. According to ngrok, its platform’s built-in load balancer distributes network requests among servers in a way that ensures none of the machines will receive more traffic than it can process. 

The platform’s ability to optimize the data traffic sent to an application also lends itself to software testing. 

Many development teams use an approach known as blue-green deployment to ensure that software updates don’t cause downtime. With blue-green deployment, developers create two copies of an application and release new code to only one of the copies. If the new code contains an error, network requests can be rerouted to the version of the application that didn’t receive the update. 

According to ngrok, its platform can automatically reroute network requests when issues emerge in a software update. The platform also makes it easier to address hardware outages. If one of the servers on which an application runs encounters an error, ngrok can reroute network requests to the other machines.  

“Traditional networking requires infrastructure teams to operate legacy proxies, load balancers, or VPNs, which is a slow, manual process,” said ngrok founder and Chief Executive Officer Alan Shreve. “As developers face substantial pressure to deliver applications faster, they need more self-service and automation.” 

According  to ngrok, its platform has been adopted by more than five million developers since launch. The startup also has 30,000 paying customers, including Databricks Inc., Zendesk Inc. and other major tech firms. 

The startup says that its revenues doubled in the 12 months leading up to its newly announced funding round thanks to strong customer demand. Its workforce tripled in the same time frame. Using the newly raised funding, ngrok will hire more workers to accelerate product development and go-to-market initiatives.

Image: ngrok

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