Earlier this month, we noted that one of the few global, economic bright spots recently has been cloud computing. Despite the health and economic havoc being spread by the Covid-19 Delta variant, big cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are all logging significant growth—and, in many cases, actually seeing sales accelerate.
But there’s also a trickle-down effect to these giants’ progress that is driving growth in other, related areas of the software industry. One example: the evolution of ubiquitous application-programming interfaces, or APIs.
Indeed, as enterprises modernize their software stacks today from on-premise to hybrid-cloud, and from monolithic architectures to microservices, the volume of APIs in use has increased significantly. Every software application today is either an API or uses an API, a type of software intermediary that allows software programs to communicate with each other.
Chances are you interact with several APIs throughout your day-to-day life–particularly if you’ve ever signed into a website using Facebook or Google, searched for flight options using Kayak or checked the weather app on your iPhone, to name just a few examples. In each of these cases, an application is delivering your request to another piece of software via an API and sending a response back to you. Simply put, APIs are everywhere around you, and we’ve seen tremendous success from API-first companies including Twilio, Stripe, Auth0, Nylas and others.
Given this clear and steadily advancing market trend, we are excited to announce our investment in Postman*, a leader in API lifecycle-management. Postman has developed a community of more than 17 million developers and boasts more than 500,000 companies using the platform’s free or commercial offering, which helps companies better manage the explosion in APIs and build better products, faster. Postman’s API management platform is a validation of the fact that modern software is shifting from a “code-first” to an “API-first” style of development.
Postman adds to Battery Ventures’ stable of recent investments addressing the modern software development lifecycle, including JFrog*, Harness.io*, Cypress.io*, Launchable*, LinearB* and others.
As one would expect, there’s a lot that goes into developing an API. These pieces of software need to be tested to make sure they’re functional, reliable and deliver high performance. They also need to have analytics and monitoring capabilities layered on to track performance, availability, and functional correctness. Finally, there are security considerations. Throughout the API-development process, these pieces of code must be documented to provide instructions for how to effectively use and integrate them with other software. Clearly, there are many inputs that can break down across this toolchain.
Separately, as enterprise infrastructure becomes more complex, with the increasing use of cloud and microservices, the typical enterprise today must manage, scale and have visibility over several APIs and business processes for any given application. Couple this with the migration from waterfall to agile software-development practices—and the fact that there are often multiple owners for each API—and enterprises start to face an API-management nightmare; they need a single source of truth to manage these critical pieces of software. Enter Postman.
Postman’s broad thesis is that modern software is undergoing a shift from code-first to API-first development, and that one central control plane for API development is necessary to enhance collaboration across teams and developers. Specifically, Postman’s platform provides industry-standard tools for API design, debugging, documentation, testing, monitoring, security and other aspects of the API lifecycle. For example, UiPath uses Postman for documentation creation and maintenance, API collaboration and developer onboarding in order to tighten the feedback loop between API producers and API consumers.
Postman also runs a novel Public API Network, a global directory of thousands of public APIs that allow developers around the world to connect through a central catalog of APIs. The network enables a true two-way street between developers, making it possible for API producers and consumers to communicate and collaborate in real time in workspaces across different teams and organizations. Using the free network, users can view a range of public workspaces from publishers including Salesforce, Microsoft, Twilio, Cisco DevNet and other organizations.
Abhinav Asthana, Postman’s CEO and co-founder, wrote an early version of Postman that was casually announced on StackOverflow in 2012 as a Chrome add-on; now, it’s one of the most-viewed topics on that website. He originally released the product to solve a problem he was personally experiencing when he was a coding intern at Yahoo Bangalore, as he found that the tooling for API management was rudimentary and he couldn’t find a solution to meet his needs anywhere else.
Postman’s key, original insight was that developers want to collaborate around tools that they enjoy using, versus tools handed to them from the C-suite. With this approach, the company has harnessed a massive community of users loyal to the platform. Per IDC, the 17 million developers using Postman represent more than half of the 27 million worldwide developers expected in 2021. IDC expects this count to grow to 43 million by 2025, providing ample room for Postman to expand its reach. Postman’s company usage of over 500,000 compares well to other iconic companies such as Atlassian (over 180,000 customers), MongoDB (over 24,800 customers) and Elastic Search (over 15,000 customers).
Today, we are thrilled to partner with Postman after years of building the relationship with Abhinav and the team, and we look forward to helping to build THE company for API lifecycle-management in this next step of the journey. Postman has come a long way since the original StackOverflow post, and still has plenty of room for growth!
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*Denotes a Battery portfolio company. For a full list of all Battery investments, please click here.