Netlify, Vercel, and AWS Amplify

Nov 26, 2021

Netlify and Vercel are two startups growing at record pace. Both nail the developer experience and supercharge developer productivity. Tooling is everything, and in a world where bottoms up adoption is so strong, individual developers essentially pick the enterprise stack.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room is AWS. But the thing about 800-pound gorillas is that they weigh 800-pounds. AWS Amplify has failed to gain the same kind of traction (that's anecdotal evidence, I don't have numbers to support this). Why, is the tougher question. AWS Amplify has a Discord with over 13,000 members and the superior distribution of being an AWS service.

But this has historically been a tough space to monetize. Superior distribution often beats superior product. When might a better product beat distribution?

  • Open source is better distribution than cloud providers. Or it's about building community.
  • Clouds are bad at monetizing services that are highly opinionated and feature multiple low-level building blocks. You can think of Vercel as Cloudfront (CDN) + EC2 (Compute). Maybe this is organizationally difficult to do.
  • Cloud is too big to capture every horizontal software market
  • Developer experience moves too fast for cloud teams at large incumbent tech companies