In recent years, there has been an explosion in the use of APIs – the interfaces that software apps use to communicate with each other. When asked to predict API usage in 2022 in a recent questionnaire, 90.5% of developers who responded said they expect to use APIs more or less the same as they would 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 developer teams struggle to make APIs usable, leading to duplication of effort, wasted engineering hours, and lost revenue opportunities.
At least, that’s how Rory Blundell sees it. He is the co-founder of gravity, a startup building a tool to design, secure, manage, and deploy APIs that supports both asynchronous APIs (i.e. APIs that return data at a later time) and synchronous APIs (APIs that return data immediately). It’s different from some outdated, traditional API management solutions in use today, which only work with synchronous APIs, limiting the types of applications they can orchestrate.
After a year of growing its client base to more than 150 clients, Gravitee closed a $30 million financing round led by Riverside Acceleration Capital with participation from Kreos Capital, AlbionVC and Oxx. Bringing the total amount raised from the company to $42 million, the proceeds will lead to a “comprehensive” go-to-market strategy and an “aggressive” product roadmap in the coming months, Blundell told londonbusinessblog.com via email.
“APIs are the lifeblood of innovative companies. Whether it’s delivering and consuming APIs internally to bring new products to market faster and more efficiently, or monetizing consumer-centric APIs as a revenue stream, APIs are now the key building blocks of successful businesses,” said Blundell. As more organizations make synchronous and asynchronous API ecosystems a focal point of their business, now more than ever, engineering teams must embrace emerging API complexity without sacrificing security, which is exactly the problem Gravitee is solving.”
Blundell co-founded Gravitee in 2014 with developers Azize Elamrani, David Brassely, Nicolas Géraud and Titouan Compiegne. Frustrated by what they saw as a lack of innovation in the API tooling space, the group launched an open API management platform, Gravitee, the company’s namesake, which generated hundreds of thousands of downloads. Blundell and team later began offering paid services on top of Gravitee to fund development of the open source project.
The Gravitee platform can be deployed on-premises, self-hosted, or used as part of Gravitee’s software-as-a-service plan. Features in all releases include an “adaptive, risk-based” multi-factor authentication system, which – as the name implies – 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 prior to shine testing, as well as a dashboard from which users can visualize the components of their API implementations to identify potentially problematic uses.
“In terms of legacy vendors, Apigee — later acquired by Google — can be considered the early pioneer of API management, and we consider them as the ‘API 1.0’ category. Then, new companies like Kong, Tyk and WSO2… can be considered ‘API 2.0’ vendors,” said Blundell. “We now believe that the industry is moving towards ‘API 3.0’: standardization, security and assembly on top of multiple protocols, including synchronous and asynchronous technologies and embracing event-native architectures.”
Gravitee’s rivals include Blobr, which provides software for visibility and monetization of enterprise APIs; StepZen, which develops graphing technology to connect and visualize different APIs; and well-capitalized startups like Postman, which raised $225 million last August. But Blundell argues that there is enough capital to make ends meet.
It’s not purely magical thinking – special in light of predictions that APIs will become the main attack vector for cybersecurity. investors cast more than $2 billion in API businesses in 2020, according to one source. Nearly 40% of large organizations use more than 250 APIs, another reports. And at least one analysis projects, 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 adoption of the platform. (He declined to discuss revenue figures, however.) “As tumultuous as the current macro environment is, it was an ideal time for Gravitee to seize its strong position, and it further demonstrates the confidence of our investors… We remain committed to ensuring that Gravitee is the most versatile open source API solution on the market while delivering the robust scalability and features needed by the most demanding enterprise customers.”
Gravitee currently has 100 employees and plans to increase its workforce by 20% by the end of the year.