Recent years have seen an explosion in the use of APIs – the interfaces that software applications use to communicate with each other. When asked to predict API usage in 2022 in a recent research, 90.5% of responding developers said they expect to use APIs more or the same as in 2021, while only 3.8% think they will use less. The challenge is that as new APIs and protocols emerge, some are not supported by existing API management and security platforms. As a result, some development teams struggle to make APIs usable, resulting in duplication of effort, wasted engineering hours, and missed revenue opportunities.
At least that’s how Rory Blundell sees it. He is the co-founder of Gravity, a startup building an API design, security, management, and deployment tool that supports both asynchronous APIs (ie, APIs that return data later) and synchronous APIs (APIs that return data immediately). This is in contrast to some legacy traditional API management solutions in use today, which only work with synchronous APIs – limiting the types of applications they can orchestrate.
After a year that saw its customer base grow to over 150 customers, Gravitee closed a $30 million funding round led by Riverside Acceleration Capital with participation from Kreos Capital, AlbionVC and Oxx. Bringing the company’s total to $42 million, the proceeds will fuel an “expanded” go-to-market strategy and “aggressive” product roadmap in the coming months, Blundell told TechCrunch via email.
“APIs are the lifeblood of innovative companies. Whether it’s internally delivering and consuming APIs to bring new products to market faster and more efficiently, or monetizing user-facing APIs as a revenue stream, APIs are now the core building blocks of a successful business,” said Blundell. “As more organizations make synchronous and asynchronous API ecosystems a focal point of their business, technical teams now more than ever need to embrace the coming complexity of APIs without sacrificing security. This is the very problem that Gravitee solves.”
Blundell founded Gravitee in 2014 along with developers Azize Elamrani, David Brassely, Nicolas Géraud and Titouan Compiegne. Frustrated by what they perceived as a lack of innovation in the API tooling space, the group launched an open API management platform, Gravitee — the company’s namesake — which subsequently garnered hundreds of thousands of downloads. Blundell and the team later began offering paid services on Gravitee to fund the development of the open source project.
The Gravitee Platform can be deployed on-premises, can be self-hosted, or can be used as part of Gravitee’s Software-as-a-Service plan. Features in all versions include an “adaptive, risk-based” multi-factor authentication system that—as the name suggests—attempts to automatically enforce certain authentication factors based on the perceived risk of API access requests. Gravitee also comes with a graphical drag-and-drop tool for designing APIs and deploying them before mock testing, as well as a dashboard from which users can visualize the components of their API deployments to spot any problematic usage.
“In terms of legacy vendors, Apigee—subsequently acquired by Google—can be considered an early pioneer in the API management space, and we consider them to be in the ‘API 1.0’ category.” Subsequently, new companies such as Kong, Tyk and WSO2 … can be considered “API 2.0” providers, Blundell said. “We now believe the industry is moving towards ‘API 3.0’: standardization, security and composition over multiple protocols, including synchronous and asynchronous technologies and including event-based architectures.”
Gravitee’s rivals include Blobrthat offers software for exposing and monetizing enterprise APIs; StepZen, which develops graph technology to help connect and visualize different APIs; and well-capitalized startups like Postman, which raised $225 million last August. But Blundell claims he has enough capital to go around.
This is not purely magical thinking – especially in light of predictions that APIs will become the top attack vector in cybersecurity. Investors poured out over $2 billion in API companies in 2020, according to one source. Nearly 40% of large organizations use more than 250 APIs, another reports. And at least one analysis projects that the API management market will be worth $21.68 billion by 2028.
“We have several government contracts in Europe, with multiple French, Danish, Swedish and UK government departments actively using the platform,” Blundell said when asked about platform adoption. (However, he would not discuss revenue numbers.) “As turbulent as today’s macro environment is, it was the perfect time for Gravitee to capitalize on its strong position, and this further demonstrates the confidence of our investors… We remain committed to ensuring that Gravitee is the most feature-rich open source API solution on the market, while delivering robust scalability and features demanded by the most demanding enterprise customers.”
Gravitee currently has 100 employees and plans to increase the number of employees by 20% by the end of the year.