Enterprise adoption of Node.js: Game changer or just a fad?

Node.js is scaling rapidly within the enterprise and changing the way that companies like PayPal, Intuit, LinkedIn, and Walmart Labs program their applications. While Node was once purely a development approach utilized by early adopters and startups, the benefits experienced through performance gains, more frequent application releases, and an expansive talent pool are all reasons why larger enterprises are jumping on board with Node.js. I’ll explore each of these reasons in more depth in this post.

Brief History

Node.js was originally invented in 2009 when a frustrated programmer, Ryan Dahl, demanded faster load times and an easier way to build scalable web applications. Ryan’s solution was to develop a brand new approach to the server-side runtime written in the most popular language on the web, JavaScript. This approach would enable requests in and out of the web server (I/O) to be processed asynchronously and concurrently using a concept called non-blocking, or asynchronous I/O. The project was a breakthrough and Node.js was released as open source software so that a community would form around it to rapidly build out functionality for widespread adoption.

Node.js really began to take off with developers in 2011 with the introduction of its package manager (npm), which made life easier for the growing Node community to publish and share libraries. While the Node community grew rapidly from 2009–2012, it mainly consisted of early adopters without a significant commercial presence. However, by 2013, developers at startups and larger web companies like Uber, LinkedIn, PayPal, and Netflix began to bring Node.js into their environments. In the last two years, Node.js adoption flipped to exponential growth as larger enterprises like Walmart Labs, Intuit, Yahoo, and Conde Nast began to adopt Node. In addition, the early adopters expanded their Node deployments to become core to their application architectures.

The chart below from Indeed.com maps the growth in demand for Node.js talent relative to other competing programming skills.

Enterprise Adoption

Where is this exponential growth coming from? Why is Node.js now beginning to proliferate within larger enterprises? Is this trend a flash in the pan or an early sign of something bigger? I personally believe Node.js has staying power in the enterprise for three core reasons:

  1. Enterprises want to build modern web applications with responsive UIs and distributed systems. Because Node.js is an asynchronous programming framework benefiting from rapid I/O processing, it produces speedy, responsive load times even for the most complex and highly concurrent applications.
  2. Enterprises want to stay competitive with early-stage startups by producing more frequent application releases. Node.js promotes modular development as opposed to monolithic application development, which helps companies quickly iterate app functionality. Additionally, due to its massive open source community, libraries, and tools available for Node programmers, the experience of building applications in Node.js continuously improves and cuts down time to release.
  3. Software continues to eat the world, and enterprises need to recruit quality developer talent to build better applications. Node.js is a server-side runtime that enables network applications to be written in JavaScript, the language of the web, and the community of Node programmers is skyrocketing. And JavaScript is eating the world


So, why does a VC have a strong viewpoint on Node.js? Drum roll… yes, I do have a horse in the race. Crosslink is an investor in NodeSource, the enterprise Node company. However, after our initial investment in NodeSource in early 2015, we have only become stronger in our conviction on the underlying Node.js market and its suitability for enterprise adoption. NodeSource provides enterprise-grade products and services that empower organizations to be effective with deploying Node.js in production, counting PayPal, Intuit, Uber, Yahoo, and the US Navy as customers, among others. With a new class of enterprise users rapidly moving their environments over to Node, there is a new set of requirements and demands that are placed on the open source project. A large company adopting Node.js will notice that it lacks a complete enterprise-grade toolset to keep applications secure, maximize development productivity, and provide the kind of transparency necessary across large development, ops, and executive teams. NodeSource fills this void with its products, services, and support.


As we have seen time and time again, software development technology is a rapidly evolving space and developers can be fickle human beings! That being said, Node.js stands out from competing technologies because it possesses multiple unique characteristics, including its fit within modern app development, the sheer size of its open source community and available libraries, and the enabling of network applications to be written in the world’s most popular language, JavaScript. In my mind, these characteristics scream game changer as opposed to a fad, but then again I am just a VC on the sidelines with a horse in the race.