Breakout Startups #18- Linear


This is Ankit here, again.

In the 18th Edition of Breakout Startups Memos, we are covering Linear, the tool being dubbed as the JIRA Killer.


We are seeing this new stream of companies aiming to replace the traditional software in use right now. We have Airtable competing with Excel, Notion competing with everyone, and now we have a competitor to JIRA. 

Even though JIRA is incredibly dominant in the project management software category, this is the first time we are witnessing a real challenger in the space.

Linear, Founded by Karri Saarinen, lets you manage software development and track bugs. Linear’s streamlined design is built for speed and efficiency — helping high performing teams accomplish great things.

In his tweetstorm about Linear, Karri writes,

I’ve always been frustrated with how bad the commonly used tools are in this market. Why are they so slow? Why is everything so complex, yet you still feel it doesn’t help you to actually manage your work? Why does every view have 50 drop downs?

In fact, during his stint at Airbnb, Karri wrote a Chrome extension that redesigned JIRA, It was a CSS overwrite that hid half of the information on views; toned down elements, colors, and borders; removed icons and added margins. More than 100 people in the company used it. 

This very much explains how backdated the current tools are and how there is a need for one new tool in the space. And this is where Linear comes in!!!!

One thing which Linear has improved radically on how the process of building software has changed from many years ago and how the current tools haven’t evolved with the changes. 

Linear is the modern software management tool that product teams were waiting for 😄

Market Validation

Since its launch, the product has been gaining attention from people on Twitter and other platforms. The product is already being dubbed “JIRA Killer”. 

On why the team started working on the product in the first place, Karri Sarrienen, Founder and CEO of Linear, writes in the announcement blog-

Our founding team has designed, delivered and scaled software at some of the fastest growing tech companies in the world — Uber, Airbnb, and Coinbase. We have witnessed first hand how companies and product teams grow from one to thousands of people, experienced the pain of triaging thousands of bugs and the confusion and waste created by misaligned roadmaps. We grew frustrated by how slow, lacking and disconnected these the tools were from today’s practices. For example, it is rare it is to find top product companies in the Silicon Valley that fully embrace Scrum or Agile, yet most of the tools in the market seem to centered around these methodologies. Many companies have adapted their own, more lightweight version of these processes, yet tooling hasn’t followed.

This is why we decided to start Linear. We wanted to re-envision a new standard for creating and maintaining software and share our thinking and tooling with all companies.

Our vision is to create a more enjoyable and efficient way to manage software development.

You can read the full announcement here:-


Linear, for an early-stage startup, which has only raised a Pre-Seed round commands one of the most impressive teams out there.

  • Kaari Sarrinen- CEO of Linear, Previous: Principal Designer and design systems lead at Airbnb. Founding design at Coinbase. YC Alumni

  • Tumoas Artman- Founder of Linear, Previous: Staff Engineer and Manager, scaled Uber’s mobile engineering team to 400 strong

  • Jori Lello- Founder of Linear, Previous: Early Coinbase engineer. Created the API and frontend architecture. YC Alumni

As you can see, Linear team is stacked with experience of building world-class products at companies such as Uber, Coinbase and Airbnb. 

Not only this, Kaari and Jori previously worked together on Klippt, which was the first Finnish company to enter Y Combinator in 2012. 


The space Linear is competing in is one of the most competitive software business to be a part of. 

  1. JIRA

Jira, by Altassian, is the most popular tool in the product management circles. The product has more than 31% of the market share in the Project Management Software space. 

  1. Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is also one very popular tool used for project management. The products commands more than 18% of the market share. 

Along with these two, there are several other project management tools such as Smartsheet[5.63%] and Trello[4.37%] along with other who command a minuscule share of the market on their own. 

Breaking into this space would be incredibly hard for any new company but Linear app has already started making some good inroads into the space. 

Defensible Moat

  1. Great Product and Loyal User Base

This may not actually qualify as a defensible moat, but Linear is being touted as one of the most impressive products to have come in the software management space. 

The product is being called the “Superhuman of Issue Tracking”.

Not only this, the 3 member team is also rapidly improving the product day by day. The product already integrates with GitHub, Slack, Figma, Zapier and a ton of other tools.

You can see the Changelog for updates made to the product since beginning

  1. Discontent with Current Tools

This is perhaps the perfect time to launch an app like Linear. We are seeing the rise of new generation of software focused on replacing the traditional software with Coda competing with Word and Excel, Superhuman competing with Gmail and several others. 

Tools such as Linear cater to this group of frustrated users and are doing really well. 

Potential Problems in the Future

  1. A Large Company can just copy them

A tool such as Linear can be copied by a large company such Jira[owned by Altassian]. 

However, given how JIRA has basically remained the same over the past few years, this does not seem to be a very big problem on hands right now. 

  1. New Competitors

Given Linear’s rapid growth, it won’t be surprising if similar products pop up in the same category in the coming days. It’d be interesting to see how company tackles that problem. 


Linear is not hiring right now. However, we have created a DIY Form for you to apply in any role. 

DIY Role-

That’s it for today. Follow us on Twitter