We offer two products that help ambitious creators squeeze the most value from every working hour. Alloy products borrow from our 15 years experience bootstrapping profitable businesses against competitors with exponentially more resources. Our Idea Execution Funnel is an evolved take on the venerable “Get Things Done” methodology. Its proprietary algorithm evaluates 10+ factors to sift through all your previously captured ideas, and pluck out the most promising few, based on your current project, location and mood.
Our company is run by a small dev team based in the Pacific Northwest that cut our teeth building an eBay alternative marketplace in 2007 that grew to become Bonanza.com. A few years later we were named “Best Bootstrapped Startup” by voters in Seattle 2.0. We love to build genre-bending products that serve entrepreneurs, developers, and productivity enthusiasts.
Largest diffs of Alloy.dev vs business orthodoxy:
- Small by philosophy. We were born scrappy. Originally because we had no choice, later because we came to see that small teams build genre-pushing products faster.
- Dogfood by the heap. We use GitClear and Amplenote daily because we need them. There are no better options we could choose to help “improve code quality” and “get things done.”
- Long-term minded. We’ve been at this for almost 15 years, and the fun we’re having grows with each year because we don’t let tech debt linger and ruin the vibe.
We’re fine being referred to as simply “Alloy” (like our logo), but we hate names that are hard to Google unambiguously, so we’ll generally refer to ourselves as “alloy.dev” when given the chance.
What we’re building
GitClear’s Chart Glimpses let us give you a real-time peek at the features we’re building lately.
Want a chart like this for your team? GitClear can generate chart images like these automatically from your programmers publishing their work. See also: GitClear pricing, including a free Hobbyist tier that can generate Chart Glimpses.
What’s new this week?
This image automatically updates every hour or so using free Chart Glimpses from our GitClear product. Our hardcore users get excited to see what’s in the works.
What’s new this quarter?
We ❤️ transparency. If you feel similar & run a team, you can make your own auto-generating version of this using GitClear’s Chart Glimpses. Since it’s just an auto-generating image, you can post it to a website, your Github readme file, an email, some admin report, etc.
Alloy.dev currently stewards development of three products (in alphabetical order):
A note taking and todo list app focused on optimizing one’s personal “ideas into reality” funnel. Amplenote provides a set of simple, combinable features that help smart people keep on top of all the competing priorities in their lives.
Amplenote’s vision of “success” is a world in which more people set long-term intentions and spend more time working on what is most important to them. We strongly believe that the world won’t look back kindly on what seemed like great to-do list options in 2022.
Amplenote’s beta went live in early 2019 and it launched officially later that year. It has generated attention as the best Roam alternative thanks to being the only app that supports the Zettelkasten Method while being highly optimized for GTD, with backlinking across every desktop and mobile platform.
Comparing features available between note apps proves that Amplenote has gotten off to a quick start relative to similar note apps. How does a small dev team move so fast? Since we started using GitClear to chart our development progress, we have seen our rate of code evolution per developer almost double.
GitClear provides engineering tools that measurably improve the quality & shipping velocity of code in a repo. We believe a joyful development experience starts with less rubbish legacy code, and continues by incentivizing documentation and test coverage. We help customers progress toward these goals via the first/only metric that can measure the cognitive load per commit in a consistent way across all programming languages. 😳
Having this metric opens the door for some unprecedented opportunities, like reducing code to review by 40% and isolating specific directories and files that harbor tech debt.
GitClear’s vision of “success” is a world in which developers have fun reviewing code, and don’t have to suffer through shitty, tech-debt-ridden projects that drain their energy.
GitClear went live to customers in late 2018, after three years of iterating on the Line Impact idea to get it good enough to not be embarrassing.
How do we build a code review tool at the same time we invent a new metric with empirically higher “dev energy” correlation than commits? We keep a collection of thousands of possible tasks to work on, then we apply Amplenote’s task score to pick the tasks that maximize (customer demand/dev time spent).
Alloy.dev was built on the premise that, on a long enough time horizon, truth beats hype. In a world rife with dark patterns and not-customer-centric policies, there will always be a niche for companies that make every reasonable effort to do right by their customers.
Our decision to develop multiple products was inspired by The Snowball, a book chronicling the life of Warren Buffett. He offers a canonical example of how to allocate resources effectively by investing in growth businesses via float generated by existing businesses.
See also this draft essay on the forces drive alloy.dev.
We are a team of about 10 hailing mostly from Seattle. Our expertise is listening to customers and evolving software quickly.
Bill Harding, Programmer/CEO, Founder
Bill is the CEO and Founder of alloy.dev. He has been obsessed by computer programming since 1992, when his parents splurged for a Packard Bell 486SX/33 with 4mb RAM and 310mb of hard drive space. He grew up in a flea-infested trailer with a leaky roof, on a 10 acre farm in a rural Washington town (population 4,300). These details are relevant to explain how, by the time Bill was 13 years old and enrolled in Computer Programming courses at his local community college, he had formed what was to become a lifelong belief: that no other hobby would ever be half as interesting as programming. The next best entertainment options at that time and place were so incredibly boring by comparison, this truth was plain and inescapable.
Lately, Bill has overseen Bonanza.com grow from a programming side project into a company that is consistently recommended over Amazon and eBay by sellers participating in the largest annual poll of ecommerce sellers. Bonanza’s efforts have been buoyed by an amazing team that share his conviction for “listening to the customer” and “proving we care through our actions.”
Aside from programming, Bill’s other lifelong passions are measurement and personal productivity. The fixation
with accurate measurement stems from it being integral to real learning & improvement. Trying to improve without reliable measurement is like trying to bike across the country without a map. To whatever extent it may be possible, it’s ridiculously inefficient. The only thing worse than trying to improve without measurement is trying to improve with unreliable measurement.
Jordan Phillips, Programmer/CTO, Co-Founder
Jordan Phillips is the CTO and Co-Founder of alloy.dev. Jordan met Bill in 2005 while working on the smash hit “Disney Friends,” a Nintendogs clone that sold upwards of 10 copies worldwide. It was programmed real good though, Jordan definitely programmed the heck out of it.
A lifelong learner, Jordan started programming as a teen, writing Perl scripts that created message boards for a then-nascent world wide web. He went on to write C and C++ that could run on the 16mhz, 256kb environment afforded by Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance. He excels at bending scarce resources into a joyous user experience.
Jordan is an avid note taker, and enjoys sharing lists with his family. He prefers his IPAs on the piney side.
Isn’t building one product hard enough? Why not just focus on growing Amplenote or GitClear?
It’s not lost on us that all conventional wisdom says to build your company one way, and we are going against advice offered by many experienced/successful biz builders. We recognize that’s what works best for most, but we set aside conventional wisdom on this count for a few reasons:
- More devs on a team = higher coordination costs. Coordination delays shipping, and the gratification afforded by seeing improvements daily. Having separate Amplenote/GitClear teams lets cross-project coordination time approach zero.
- More devs on a team = less likely to remove old code. That’s probably the biggest long-term risk to code adaptability.
- If the idea catches on that Amplenote is building something cool faster than 10x bigger companies, people will someday ask “how?” Answering “GitClear” is proof-based marketing. It saves us hours per week (in code review, debt reduction, etc) vs. Github alone.
- Amplenote decides what to work on next. Having a small team split time between Bonanza, Amplenote, GitClear and NoteApps.info during 2022, Amplenote’s Task Score balanced all kinds of disparate opportunities, helping set focus for both our team, and for our individual daily planning.
- In our first few years building these, we’ve had to focus mostly on “table stakes” features that let us reach parity with the public’s favorite existing tools. The next few years (2023-2025) are when it gets fun.
What are the company’s hopes & dreams for 2023?
We hear the AI thing is taking over the world or somesuch? That opens a new dimension of opportunity to augment code review and life planning.
More specifically: for Amplenote, it’s still early days for how well we can help people understand the circumstances that yield their best work and happiest days. Amplenote is in a great position to teach people how to set habits that satisfy their ambitions. And most importantly, follow through.
For GitClear, we’re eager to make pull request review take more like 1-5% of the average dev team’s week, instead of 20%. We’ve already made good inroads, and by mid-2023 we’ll have quite a few differentiating features for new customers to take for a spin.
How can I trust this company will be around in the long-term?
Now that several of the web1 and web2 companies have been eaten by bigger fish (or just died), there has emerged a well-founded wariness about the longevity of any promising new product.
Uncertainty is inherent to technology at its current pace of evolution. That said, Alloy.dev has now stood the test of time for 17 years since the company’s initial founding. Its Developer/Founders are unchanged over this term, and they are as enthusiastic about the prospects for the company as ever.
We have no aspirations to sell our business because there are no more interesting projects we can think to work on. The reason we’re working on “day planning” and “minimizing long-term tech debt” is because they’re problems central to our lives. That is unlikely to change.
We’ve never raised venture capital in 17 years, because we won’t end up beholden to parties that pressure us to sell.
Beyond our personal reasons for sticking with the company, we also aspire in the medium-term to provide services that can be utilized with or without a connection to our servers. Amplenote has its own Longevity Pledge that you can look up if your curiosity on this topic runs that deep.
Why not just build a single product that does everything?
Nobody has ever actually asked us this. But it’s funny that Copilot suggested the question, so maybe it’s a sign that we should seriously consider building the “everything app.” #worstideaever
In early 2023, Alloy.dev divested its interest in its initial product, Bonanza.com.
An ecommerce marketplace that became 2020’s “Best eBay Alternative” (beating out Etsy, Poshmark and Mercari) in the largest seller survey online, conducted by EcommerceBytes. In the past few years, Bonanza has been named a “Best Company to Work For” by Seattle Business Magazine, while CEO Bill Harding was named an Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist by Ernst & Young. We’re passionate about creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to thrive without being beholden to Amazon.
Bonanza’s vision of “success” is a world in which entrepreneurs build a loyal following of repeat customers that return to their store time and time again.
Bonanza went live to customers in 2008. Bonanza.com was sold by Alloy to Bonanza Worldwide LLC in Q1 2023.