Computers are the most powerful tools to exist in the history of humanity. Sadly most people are mere consumers of these machines. Only a relative few -- the professional software developer -- can use this superpower to its fullest extent. It’s creating an unbalanced world where there are programmers, and then there are those who are programmed. The situation is analogous to literacy before the printing press, where only the powerful had access to books and written communication. The invention of the printing press led to democratic, scientific, and industrial revolutions, but it took about a century from creation to revolution, which meant that an entire generation of people to grow up with new skills, outlooks, and ways of learning and communicating.
When there is widespread code literacy, we believe that it will transform humanity again and perhaps in more radical ways. It's hard to imagine what the world will look like when there is a generation of people who grew up with computer superpowers. But we can be sure about a few things:
Technological power will be decentralized: When everyone can code, there will be less reliance on power centers to manage all information technology. Power centers like Silicon Valley will decentralize into internet communities.
Wealth will be more distributed: When people have the tools to create and participate in the global digital economy, they will have the ability to lift themselves out of poverty. The wealthy and the poor will not differ by pidegree, instead anyone who can generate good ideas can be wealthy.
Software will be more local: No one knows better what a community needs other than the community itself. Instead of a handful of giant companies creating the software for everyone in the world, we'll see more personal and community-grown software.
Education will be transformed: When people can be economically productive much earlier in life, education systems will change to become more tailored to individuals and more pragmatic. Since the best way to learn is to create, people will become more efficient learners by building computer simulations.
Institutions will be more democratic: Totalitarian regimes have relied on technological supremacy since the beginning of time to subject people. But when people have agency over technology, the power balance will improve.
We happen to be at absolutely the right time to be attempting to create systems to increase computing literacy and give people superpowers:
Cloud computing allows us to deliver collaborative and powerful tools wirelessly and at very little cost to the user.
With advent of satellite internet we're quickly approaching universal connectivity.
Low-end devices are getting more affordable by the year, nearly free, and very close to universal computer access.
Bitcoin and web3 allows users to easily generate and capture wealth on the internet.
Schools and governments are starting to understand the need for coding literacy.
The funding landscape allows ambitious projects like Replit to exist
Replit will bring the next billion software creators online, and will accelerate the shift towards a world where software and the internet are truly The Great Equalizer. Soon anyone, regardless of place or economic status, will be able to create software and generate wealth on the internet. If we’re successful, anyone who's willing to learn and generate good ideas will be wealthy.
In the first phase of the company we poured everything into building the default entry-to-programming environment. One which put us on an exponential growth path towards millions of programmers. Now we have the opportunity to build the next major software platform.
We're entering the next major phase of our company, where we're inventing the building blocks for the software creator economy. The primitives that will power the next paradigm shift of software collaboration. We think we're transitioning from a stacked model of software creation to a networked one. One which value is builtin, and the ability to monetize will be inseparable from creation.
If we're succesful in empowering the next generation of softawre creators we'll have the ability to weave interconnected communities and software into the world's first massively distributed and collaborative operating system. One that’s focused on creation and self-expression, that’s networked by default, and that let’s people create and earn on the internet.
Learnable yet scalable interfaces: Interfaces today present the same UI to vastly different users, from children to adults, from novices to experts. Our mission demands that we make computing environments more accessible to novices while making it possible to transition to more powerful interfaces. Replit starts with a simple editor and console, which gets learners very far. The UI, however, is adaptable and presents different faces to different users and use-cases.
Infrastructure as legos: A core part of commanding computer power is to be able to build for the modern internet-connected world. Despite progress in cloud computing, infrastructure remains inaccessible to novices, hobbyists, and educators. We change this by designing simple and scalable components, like cloud-hosted servers accessible right from the repl, storage, databases, etc., that require little configuration and maintenance by the programmer. Coders can then mix and match components to create endless possibilities.
People-centric technology: It's more exciting and fun to create and learn with other people. The future demands that computers and the internet have human interconnectedness as a core primitive. From our multiplayer computing protocol to our community spaces for sharing software, we build support for human beings, and we put collaboration right at the heart of our technology.
Replit is an emerging computing universe. To understand it, you have to understand its basic components:
Replit is a website where anyone can get a computer with a development environment in the cloud instantly from any device, and get effectively infinite machines to learn, build, and play with them. It's a site where creators from all over the globe can meet and collaborate. It's a place to discover and remix software ("view source" for all software). It's a place to go from your first line of code to your first app to your first startup. It's the ultimate website that blurs the distinction between building to learn and learning to build and eventually building to earn. It's the place where ideas become wealth.
It's a protocol for remote computing between a human to machine and machine to machine. This protocol powers the website, but also power bots, third-party apps, and many other use-cases yet to be discovered. It's making Replit into an open platform where developers can build plugins, extensions, and entirely new experiences and businesses on the platform. It's collaborative from the ground up, it's extensible, and it's interactive and alive. It will be the basis for a massively multiplayer cloud operating system of the future.
It's a massively distributed computing network. If GitHub is a network of dead code, Replit is a network of live code. Any program on any machine on the network can call functions on any other program. It's Alan Kay's original vision for object-oriented programming -- a biological-like system of live machines communicating via message-passing. It's empowering for developers to build and scale apps. It unlocks a radically new way of collaborating on software. And it's a platform for infrastructure providers to publish and monetize services for developers on the network.
Metrial from the blog
- Post from 2017 laying out the technical foundations
- More on technical motivations and inspiration
- What Replit is not
- How Replit wins
- Series A announcement
- On how and why Replit is fun