Published on May 20, 2024

Timing is Everything - what the first AI coder taught us

Published by Jerry Teng

Timing is Everything - what the first AI coder taught us

Timing is everything.

By now, you have probably heard of code assistants like GitHub Copilot or AI SWEs like Devin made by Cognition.

What if I told you there was another team who tried to solve the problem but was 10 years too early? Kite started in 2014 to build the first code completion tool.

They last raised $17 million in 2019, including investment from the GitHub CEO Nat Friedman but abruptly shutdown in 2022.

Why? They were too early.

First mover advantage is often emphasized in building a startup, but it's not always the playbook in practice.

Workforce management system Rippling raised $200m a week ago in Series F to "eat" point-SaaS solutions.

They are focused on going after mature markets because PMF has already been identified, and all they have to do is to "tie" in feature sets to win via their platform offerings.

What if Kite was founded in present day?

Their demise was that they didn't find a business model because developers didn't want to pay.

That narrative has changed.

GitHub last reported over a million PAID users for their Copilot. Many Fortune 500 companies have enterprise plans with them as well.

People are paying for it because they don't want to lose the efficiency that everyone else has.

Kite was founded on a grand vision but failed because of timing, the stark truth that haunt even the most brilliant entrepreneurs.