TestGrid is a “one-stop shop” for testing apps at scale

Created by developer who needed to test apps at scale, TestGrid is an on-demand platform that lets users run tests on websites and apps across browsers, operating systems. The startup, which is launching today and can be used on premise or in the cloud, alleviates the hassle of finding and scaling physical and cloud infrastructure for testing. Its clients range in size from startups to Fortune 500 companies, and come from a wide variety of sectors, like banking, financial services and insurance, e-commerce, manufacturing, logistics and healthcare. 

TestGrid was created in 2016 as a scriptless automation tool, and then over the next five years its team, led by founder and CEO Harry Rao, fleshed it out with a real device cloud, end-to-end testing platform and test management, to create a “one-stop shop for all testing needs.” It now has over 20,000 on its public cloud, which offers 200 minutes of testing time per month for free, as well as 50 enterprise customers ranging in size from startups to Fortune 500 companies. 

Before founding TestGrid,  Rao said he built many mobile apps and websites for companies, and needed to test them at scale, in an affordable way, across iOS and Android devices, and different browser combinations. 

“We know the solution for this was first step automating the applications and then step two was running it on different form factors,” he said. “We started shopping around and found that even to automate, we needed developers and on top of it we had to integrate a bunch of tools to get the end-to-end software development lifecycle (SDLC) automations we were looking for.”

To solve this problem, TestGrid’s team started with AI-based low-code automation tech. But as they grow, the found that many infrastructure providers were too expensive. As a result, they decided to create an in-house solution and boot strap it. 

TestGrid currently helps developers test things like their user interface on different device and browser combinations, app and website performance metrics like battery drainage, CPU usage, data usage, time for first byte and transaction time to go to the next page, integration testing to see if the UI and API are in sync and security vulnerabilities. 

Rao gave a couple case studies of how TestGrid has helped clients. The first is a gas and electric company that needed to respond to wildfires in California using iPad devices. Real-time data feeds and IoT reporting were important to make sure they were prepared, but their app kept crashing. As a result, they needed to optimize their entire software architecture. TestGrid allowed them to shift their entire testing infrastructure to the cloud, enabling all team members around the world to have access to test devices. They were also able to move all of their Appium Java test cases into a scriptless environment. In addition to testing, the gas and electric company was also able to monitor the performance of its app, saving at least 40% of the testing cost, said Rao.

The second example is a large clothing e-commerce company that was experiencing data logging errors, glitches and slow loading pages on their app, slowing down sales and negatively affecting customer experience. Since they had multiple apps running geo-localized versions around the world, the company had to make sure that their development team could keep track of all feedback and development cycles. To do that, they used TestGrid’s in-sprint automation, which has simple keyword based test-writing environments, intelligent element extraction and auto-healing test cases. As a result, they were able to test their entire app ecosystem and get real-time insights into their performance metrics, with device, network and app logs. 

Rao said TestGrid considers LambdaTest, BrowserStack and Kobiton as competitors. TestGrid differentiates by offering all its testing features—including cross-browser, mobile app, performance, API and security testing under the same umbrella, at less cost. 

“We help users reduce their testing budget by cutting down on different platforms and just subscribing to the TestGrid platform alone and that no other testing platform does,” Rao said. 

TestGrid is currently bootstrapped and EBITDA positive. It plans to add more solutions to its product suite, including database testing, UAT and integrations with SDLC tools. 

TestGrid is a “one-stop shop” for testing apps at scale by Catherine Shu originally published on TechCrunch

Airplane lands $32M in new cash to make it easier for companies to build internal dev tools

Software-as-a-service dev platform Airplane today closed a $32 million Series B funding round led by Thrive Capital with participation from Benchmark, bringing the startup’s total raised to $40.5 million. Ravi Parikh says that the new funds will be put toward growing Airplane’s 19-person team while expanding its product to new markets.

Airplane was founded in 2020 by Parikh and Josh Ma, who was formerly the CTO at Benchling, a cloud-based platform for biotechnology R&D. Parikh previously co-founded analytics startup Heap, which offers tools to analyze customer journeys online. Parikh and Ma left their respective companies in 2020 after realizing that one of the biggest challenges in software development is a lack of internal tooling.

It wasn’t just a hunch on their parts. According to one recent vendor survey, developers spent more than 30% of their time building internal apps in 2021. The pandemic worsened matters, with 87% of respondents saying that they increased or maintained their time spent on internal apps in response to the health crises.

“[We’ve spoken] to tons of engineers who spend 25% to 50% of their time responding to customer requests, building and maintaining internal admin panels, maintaining cron jobs, on-call runbooks and more instead of pushing the product forward … At Heap, we had tons of one-off customer requests, like deleting data, merging accounts, GDPR operations and billing operations,” Parikh said. “We created Airplane to make it easy to take these one-off engineering operations and turn them into tools anyone at a company can use.”

Airplane

Building an app using Airplane. Image Credits: Airplane

Parikh acknowledges there are platforms already addressing these internal tooling challenges, like Retool and Superblocks — both of which recently secured tens of millions in venture capital backing. But he argues that Airplane is more developer-centric and “code-first,” eschewing a low-code, drag-and-drop approach to creating apps for more specialized tools and workflows.

With Airplane, developers can select from a library of tables, forms, charts and more to built apps, which can be integrated with APIs and custom components or libraries. The platform supports databases and messaging platforms out of the box and can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, giving devs the raw tools to launch apps like billing dashboards and content moderation queues.

Airplane today launched Airplane Views, a framework for creating internal tooling visual interfaces. Airplane was previously focused on code-heavy internal apps for tasks like deleting user data, refunding a charge and banning a user. But Airplane Views allows developers to create app components that act like dashboards, for example to display certain key metrics.

“One of the most common use cases is software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies using Airplane Views to build internal admin panels for their customer success and support teams. SaaS companies use Airplane to create [interfaces] where they can look up customer data, view account metrics and make account changes like suspending users or upgrading a customer’s account,” Parikh said. “Another important use case is fraud detection … [W]ith Views, companies can build more sophisticated fraud monitoring [interfaces] where the right user data is displayed contextually next to these operations, making the lives of ops and risk teams significantly easier when using Airplane.”

Eric Vishria, a general partner at Benchmark who recently joined Airplane’s board of directors, highlighted what he sees as the other benefits of the platform, such as controls that allow engineers to grant access to data deletion requests to anyone in a business. In theory, these minimize the need for engineers to get involved with every such request — removing a common bottleneck.

Airplane

Image Credits: Airplane

“Today, virtually every company runs a software service,” Vishria said via email. “Disney used to make content, now it also has to run Disney+. Banks used to store money, now they compete on their apps. Every one of these cloud services has an unmanaged mountain of scripts, cron jobs, SQL statements and internal dashboards that keep it running. Airplane is the first company taking a developer-first approach to bringing order to this 50% of ‘code’ that lives in the wilderness today.”

Parikh cautions that it’s early days; he declined to share revenue metrics. But he revealed that Airplane has almost 100 paying customers currently, including startups Vercel, Panther Labs and Flatfile.

“We’re not yet profitable, but this funding round plus our current revenue gives us several years of runway even with aggressive growth plans … We’re fortunate to have a product that can save a lot of engineering time as well as significantly improve customer experience. During a period when companies are tightening their belts and looking for ways to improve efficiency, Airplane is easy to justify,” Parikh said with confidence. “[But] our product today only solves a small portion of this huge problem and there’s a lot more we need to build to create a broad platform for internal tool development.”

Airplane lands $32M in new cash to make it easier for companies to build internal dev tools by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

LibreOffice begins charging Mac App Store users $8.99

LibreOffice, the popular open source document processing suite, has begun charging users who download the software through the Mac App Store a one-time fee of $8.99. First spotted by The Register, it’s an unexpected step for The Document Foundation (TDF) — the organization behind LibreOffice — which since its inception has made all versions of LibreOffice available at no charge.

In a blog post, Italo Vignoli, head of marketing and public relations at LibreOffice, said that the change was reflective of a “new marketing strategy” where TDF will focus on releasing free, community versions of LibreOffice while “ecosystem companies” develop “value-added” releases targeted at enterprise customers. The LibreOffice client on the Mac App Store falls into this latter category because it’s not based on the same source code as the base LibreOffice project, Vignoli says, and was maintained by U.K.-based software consultancy Collabora. (LibreOffice on the Mac App Store doesn’t include Java because external dependencies aren’t allowed on the store.)

The objective is to draw a clearer distinction between LibreOffice clients backed by professional services and community releases that are supported by volunteers, Vignoli added. “We are grateful to Collabora for having supported LibreOffice on Apple’s Mac App Stores for quite a long time,” Vignoli said. “The objective is to fulfill the needs of individual and enterprise users in a better way, although we know that the positive effects of the change will not be visible for some time. Educating enterprises about [free and open source software] is not a trivial task and we have just started our journey in this direction.”

It’s unclear whether Collabora or another developer will take charge of maintaining the version of LibreOffice hosted on the Mac App Store; The Register notes that Collabora previously charged $10 for “LibreOffice Vanilla” with three years of support. When contacted for comment, Collabora productivity general manager Michael Meeks implied that TDF would lead the charge going forward:

“Recently, TDF have got around to distributing LibreOffice themselves on the Mac App Store, and (it is to be hoped) should re-invest the proceeds in developing LibreOffice themselves — although there’s quite a complex picture around that,” he said via email. “In terms of financial arrangements, when we created LibreOffice Vanilla, we decided to donate 10% of our revenue to TDF to ensure that there was no financial loss from missed donations there. We also donated 10% of Collabora Office revenues, and when the Apple app-store reduced its commission rate, we increased that, too.”

In any case, Vignoli was quick to note that LibreOffice will remain free for MacOS — just not through the Mac App Store. Users have to take the extra step of downloading the release from the LibreOffice website, forgoing App Store features such as automatic updates and account management.

The newly-implemented charge might still strike some as consumer-hostile. But it costs $100 per year to publish apps on the App Store, with Apple taking a 30% cut of sales, and loads of open source projects have commercial flavors as their licenses don’t prevent developers from creating paid apps. For example, the open source painting programs Paint.NET and Krita are available for free from the projects’ websites but charge for downloads through the Microsoft Store — the proceeds from which go toward development and support.

LibreOffice begins charging Mac App Store users $8.99 by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

Sendbird adds livestreaming from any app to communications platform

Sendbird, a communications startup, has been around since 2013 helping customers incorporate communications capabilities into their applications via an API. Today, the company announced that moving forward, you can also add livestreaming combined with chat to your application with a couple of lines of code.

This new capability is called Sendbird Live.

“Now we want to give businesses the super power to host livestreaming, plus community chat as part of your user experience, all branded within their native application. So users don’t have to bounce off and go to some third-party media. And also brands can keep their users on their platform, while providing novel experiences,” Sendbird CEO and co-founder John Kim told TechCrunch.

Kim says that this allows developers to mix and match chat, livestreaming and content moderation in different ways to create safe and engaging experiences from a single tool.

“Before introducing Sendbird Live we saw a lot of our customers pick a streaming vendor, but they would always come to us for adding chat and moderation capabilities. What they really want is a single one-stop solution that they can just drop in and have all these capabilities go live instantaneously and that’s why we decided to build Sendbird Live,” he said.

Kim says the livestreaming piece fits when you want to present something in a live context, while having a chat with your audience. This could be a sporting event, a concert, a fitness class or a business town hall meeting, as some examples.

Sid Suri, head of marketing at Sendbird, says this has the potential to increase interactions around an online streaming event. “What’s interesting about our product too is if you think about a watch party use case, you might have a live session, but you can also quickly set up breakout rooms with a group of friends or colleagues,” Suri said.

“So it’s very easy to create these multiple sessions where there’s the main session of computers streaming whatever you’re watching, but also creating these sub-channels with your private groups, where you can also have a private chat, and also share video cameras and video screens among those small groups too,” he said.

Sendbird launched in 2013 and has raised over $220 million including a $100 million round in April, 2021 when the startup was valued at over $1 billion.

At the time of the funding, the company had more than 150 million users. Today, Kim says that has increased to around 270 million users with over 1,000 companies using Sendbird tools.

Sendbird adds livestreaming from any app to communications platform by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

Chameleon raises cash to help SaaS companies build better onboarding experiences

Chameleon, a startup providing low- and no-code tools designed to help software companies personalize the appearance of their apps, today announced that it raised $13 million. Part of a Series A funding round led by Matrix Partners with participation from True Ventures, the proceeds — which bring Chameleon’s total raised to $14.8 million — will be put toward expanding the platform and growing headcount from 30 employees to around 45 by the end of the year, according to CEO Pulkit Agrawal.

One recent, noteworthy shift in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry has been toward “consumerized” business models, Agrawal told me in an interview. Month-to-month payments from end-users are replacing annual corporate contracts sold to executives — one recent survey found that more than 50% of SaaS companies now leverage usage-based pricing. Tangibly, this means that the decision-making power is increasingly in the hands of the individual user, posing a problem for software vendors that lack a way to engage these users.

“It is imperative [vendors] are able to capture the attention of users and help them find ‘aha’ moments, so they can discover value and continue to deepen their engagement,” Agrawal said via email. “However dedicating a product and engineering team to this initiative puts at risk core feature building, which leads to the gap of communicating functional value without a means to — and where Chameleon fills the void.”

Agrawal founded Chameleon in 2015 with Brian Norton, a former Salesforce engineer, who he met in San Francisco working at a mobile app startup (Shoto). When the pair saw the long-term impact of user onboarding, they convinced a Y Combinator-backed company to let them build their user onboarding experience. Soon after that, Agrawal and Norton started commercializing the solution, found a paying customer and Chameleon was born.

Chameleon.io

Image Credits: Chameleon.io

Chameleon’s platform lets software development teams create and test in-product experiences including banners, tooltips, modals, walkthroughs and checklists. Devs can use Chameleon — which integrates with analytics tools from HubSpot and Salesforce — to trigger other services in-app, from Typeform surveys to Zendesk chat sessions.

“Chameleon is important for people who build software and care about getting usage,” Agrawal argued. “Normally, this is digital product teams in large companies. Sometimes they’re also building apps for internal or alternative users where they need to communicate the different features and value propositions in-product, and Chameleon can be leveraged there also.”

Chameleon recently launched HelpBar, a new offering that delivers a “spotlight search” experience within apps so users can search across a company’s help articles, developer docs and blog posts. Also new as of this year is Microsurveys, single-question in-product surveys whose data can be piped into existing analytics tools.

Chameleon’s services somewhat overlap with those of rivals in the low- and no-code development space. For example, CommandBar, which landed $19 million in funding in April, is developing a search bar that devs can use to power natural language searches within their apps. Meanwhile, WorkOS, which raised $80 million in June, lets developers quickly add enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) and directory sync to their software.

Agrawal also sees Pendo and Appcues as prime competitors. But he asserted that San Francisco-based Chameleon’s business has remained strong as of late, despite headwinds; Chameleon currently has roughly 300 customers.

“Slowdowns and cost efficiency measures make companies want to leverage scalable revenue models, including self-service and product-led growth, which leads to an increase in demand for Chameleon,” Agrawal said. “Chameleon is the deepest product adoption platform that enables modern SaaS companies to personalize and customize their user experience, and thereby improve feature discovery and user engagement.

Chameleon raises cash to help SaaS companies build better onboarding experiences by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

New Hygraph API helps developers federate content from multiple sources

In the early days of content management systems, you had a tool for creating and storing content, typically for a website, and nothing more. Over time, as more output options came along beyond the website, headless content management systems developed to make it easier to generate content for multiple formats from a single source.

Hygraph, a German startup has taken that idea a step further, announcing an API today that enables developers to pull content from a variety of sources and put that content to work in multiple formats or even content-centric applications. Hygraph CEO and co-founder Michael Lukaszczyk says that his company, which was previously called GraphCMS, calls this approach a federated content platform.

“The federated content platform is a content platform that is not only front-end agnostic, but also back-end agnostic,” he said.

He believes that this approach completely changes the CMS concept. “The headless CMS allowed a one-to-many relationship between the CMS platform and the destinations. We are turning things around with a many-to-many relationship. [Our solution lets you take advantage] of all your content sources, all of your investments that you’ve made in your enterprise tech, and we aggregate them with one universal Content API, while allowing you to distribute the content to any channel in a way that’s extremely flexible,” he said.

Illustration showing how a traditional CMS, a headless CMS and federated content CMS work.

On the left is a traditional CMS (one to one), in the middle a headless CMS (one to many) and on the right a federated content platform like the one from Hygraph (many to many) Credit: Hygraph

The system is based on the GraphQL API, which accounts for the original name of the company. He says an example, the content could come from an eCommerce system, a CRM or virtually any system you can access via API. The content gets pushed through the GraphQL API and the developer can define any output such as mobile, watch or laptop.

“You can integrate all those systems on the API layer with our federation mechanism. And the developer and implementing applications only needs to use one universal GraphQL API that serves all the content and data from all those third party systems,” Lukaszczyk explained.

The startup, which is based in Berlin, launched in 2017 and has raised around $14 million, according to Crunchbase data. The company currently has 65 employees, and as he looks at building a diverse organization, he says there are many different vectors to diversity.

“First, we’re looking at gender diversity. So our head of head of people is female and we’re building an HR team that is mostly female to attract more female talent, as well. We’re also looking to fill some leadership’s roles with more female candidates,” he said. Beyond that, the company is looking at things like cultural and age diversity and other factors as it builds a worldwide workforce.

With the new product, the startup will charge based on the number of data sources developers plug into the API. The content federation API was released earlier this summer in soft beta, and is generally available starting today.

New Hygraph API helps developers federate content from multiple sources by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

Gravitee nabs new cash to simplify API development and management

In recent years, there’s been an explosion in the usage of APIs — the interfaces that software apps use to communicate with each other. When asked to predict API usage in 2022 in a recent survey, 90.5% of developers responding said that they expect to use APIs more or the same as in 2021, while only 3.8% think they’ll use fewer. The challenge is, as new APIs and protocols emerge, some aren’t supported by existing API management and security platforms. Some developer teams are struggling to make APIs useable as a result, leading to duplicated efforts, wasted engineering hours, and missed revenue opportunities.

At least, that’s how Rory Blundell sees it. He’s the co-founder of Gravitee, a startup building a tool for designing, securing, managing and deploying 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 unlike some legacy, traditional API management solutions in use today, which only work with synchronous APIs — limiting the types of applications that they can orchestrate.

After a year in which its customer base grew to over 150 customers, Gravitee has closed a $30 million funding round led by Riverside Acceleration Capital with participation from Kreos Capital, AlbionVC and Oxx. Bringing the company’s total raised to $42 million, the proceeds will drive an “expanded” go-to-market strategy and an “aggressive” product roadmap over the coming months, Blundell told TechCrunch via email.

“APIs are the lifeblood of innovative companies. Whether it’s internally delivering and consuming APIs to more rapidly and efficiently take new products to market, or monetizing consumer-facing APIs as a revenue stream, APIs are now the core building blocks of successful businesses,” Blundell said. “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 oncoming API complexity without sacrificing security. This is the very issue Gravitee solves.”

Blundell founded Gravitee in 2014 alongside developers Azize Elamrani, David Brassely, Nicolas Géraud and Titouan Compiegne. Frustrated with what they perceived as a lack of innovation in the API tooling space, the group launched an open platform for API management, Gravitee — the company’s namesake — that went on to garner 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, it can be self-hosted, or it can be used as a part of Gravitee’s software-as-a-service plan. Features across all releases include an “adaptive, risk-based” multifactor authentication system, which — as the name implies — attempts to automatically enforce certain factors of authentication based on the perceived risk of API access requests. Gravitee also ships with a drag-and-drop graphical tool for designing APIs and deploying them ahead of mock testing, as well as with a dashboard from which users can visualize the components of their API deployments to spot possibly problematic usage.

“In terms of legacy vendors, Apigee — subsequently acquired by Google — can be considered the early pioneer in the API management space, and we consider them to be of the ‘API 1.0’ category. Subsequently, new companies such as Kong, Tyk and WSO2 … can be considered ‘API 2.0’ vendors,” Blundell said. “We now believe the industry is heading to ‘API 3.0’: standardization, security, and composition on top of multiple protocols including synchronous and asynchronous technologies and embracing event-native architectures.”

Gravitee’s rivals include Blobr, which offers software for exposing and monetizing enterprise APIs; StepZen, which is developing graph technology to help connect and visualize various APIs; and well-capitalized startups like Postman, which raised $225 million last August. But Blundell argues that there’s enough capital to go around.

It’s not purely magical thinking — particularly in light of predictions that APIs will become the top cybersecurity attack vector. Investors poured over $2 billion into 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 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 U.K. Government departments actively using the platform,” Blundell said when asked about the platform’s uptake. (He wouldn’t discuss revenue figures, however.) “As tumultuous as today’s macroenvironment is, it was an ideal time for Gravitee to seize upon its position of strength, and it further demonstrates the confidence from our investors … We remain committed to ensuring that Gravitee is the most feature-packed open source API solution on the market while delivering the robust scalability and features required by the most demanding of enterprise customers.”

Gravitee currently has 100 employees and plans to expand headcount by 20% through the end of the year.

Gravitee nabs new cash to simplify API development and management by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

Gravitee nabs new cash to simplify API development and management

In recent years, there’s been an explosion in the usage of APIs — the interfaces that software apps use to communicate with each other. When asked to predict API usage in 2022 in a recent survey, 90.5% of developers responding said that they expect to use APIs more or the same as in 2021, while only 3.8% think they’ll use fewer. The challenge is, as new APIs and protocols emerge, some aren’t supported by existing API management and security platforms. Some developer teams are struggling to make APIs useable as a result, leading to duplicated efforts, wasted engineering hours, and missed revenue opportunities.

At least, that’s how Rory Blundell sees it. He’s the co-founder of Gravitee, a startup building a tool for designing, securing, managing and deploying 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 unlike some legacy, traditional API management solutions in use today, which only work with synchronous APIs — limiting the types of applications that they can orchestrate.

After a year in which its customer base grew to over 150 customers, Gravitee has closed a $30 million funding round led by Riverside Acceleration Capital with participation from Kreos Capital, AlbionVC and Oxx. Bringing the company’s total raised to $42 million, the proceeds will drive an “expanded” go-to-market strategy and an “aggressive” product roadmap over the coming months, Blundell told TechCrunch via email.

“APIs are the lifeblood of innovative companies. Whether it’s internally delivering and consuming APIs to more rapidly and efficiently take new products to market, or monetizing consumer-facing APIs as a revenue stream, APIs are now the core building blocks of successful businesses,” Blundell said. “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 oncoming API complexity without sacrificing security. This is the very issue Gravitee solves.”

Blundell founded Gravitee in 2014 alongside developers Azize Elamrani, David Brassely, Nicolas Géraud and Titouan Compiegne. Frustrated with what they perceived as a lack of innovation in the API tooling space, the group launched an open platform for API management, Gravitee — the company’s namesake — that went on to garner 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, it can be self-hosted, or it can be used as a part of Gravitee’s software-as-a-service plan. Features across all releases include an “adaptive, risk-based” multifactor authentication system, which — as the name implies — attempts to automatically enforce certain factors of authentication based on the perceived risk of API access requests. Gravitee also ships with a drag-and-drop graphical tool for designing APIs and deploying them ahead of mock testing, as well as with a dashboard from which users can visualize the components of their API deployments to spot possibly problematic usage.

“In terms of legacy vendors, Apigee — subsequently acquired by Google — can be considered the early pioneer in the API management space, and we consider them to be of the ‘API 1.0’ category. Subsequently, new companies such as Kong, Tyk and WSO2 … can be considered ‘API 2.0’ vendors,” Blundell said. “We now believe the industry is heading to ‘API 3.0’: standardization, security, and composition on top of multiple protocols including synchronous and asynchronous technologies and embracing event-native architectures.”

Gravitee’s rivals include Blobr, which offers software for exposing and monetizing enterprise APIs; StepZen, which is developing graph technology to help connect and visualize various APIs; and well-capitalized startups like Postman, which raised $225 million last August. But Blundell argues that there’s enough capital to go around.

It’s not purely magical thinking — particularly in light of predictions that APIs will become the top cybersecurity attack vector. Investors poured over $2 billion into 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 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 U.K. Government departments actively using the platform,” Blundell said when asked about the platform’s uptake. (He wouldn’t discuss revenue figures, however.) “As tumultuous as today’s macroenvironment is, it was an ideal time for Gravitee to seize upon its position of strength, and it further demonstrates the confidence from our investors … We remain committed to ensuring that Gravitee is the most feature-packed open source API solution on the market while delivering the robust scalability and features required by the most demanding of enterprise customers.”

Gravitee currently has 100 employees and plans to expand headcount by 20% through the end of the year.

Gravitee nabs new cash to simplify API development and management by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

QA Wolf exits stealth with an end-to-end service for software testing

QA Wolf, a cloud-based platform designed to detect bugs in software, today exited stealth and announced a $20 million funding round led by Inspired Capital with participation from Notation Capital, Operator Partners and Thiel Capital and several angel investors (among them Peter Thiel). CEO Jon Perl tells TechCrunch that the new cash will go toward expanding QA Wolf’s engineering team as well as ongoing sales and marketing efforts.

“As software developers ourselves — working in health tech and fintech, where even minor bugs could have an outsized impact on people’s lives — we know firsthand how critical robust end-to-end testing is for all software businesses,” Perl said. “Our vision is to become the ‘operating system for quality’ that companies use to improve the holistic quality of their applications, beginning with automated end-to-end testing.”

Perl argues that one of the most complex challenges in building software today is the cost — the people, time, infrastructure cost — to test code from an end user’s perspective. Indeed, Statista found that organizations spent around 23% of their annual IT budgets on quality assurance and testing between 2012 and 2019. Perl says most companies either hire testers who are paid a pittance to review software manually or use software-as-a-service solutions that have a high technical barrier to entry. Neither, obviously, are very desirable scenarios.

But wait, you might say — automated software testing platforms already exist in abundance. There’s Waldo for smartphone apps, Autify for both mobile and the web, and LambdaTest, to name a few. Some newer vendors’ approaches are quite novel, like Mobot’s, which relies on fleets of robots built to bug-test apps.

But Perl makes the case that QA Wolf removes the complexity of quality assurance testing like few others do. That’s because customers get support along the way, including help developing a test plan, writing and maintaining tests, investigating failures, and reporting bugs.

“No matter how big or how small a company is, development teams usually lack the expertise and time to write, run and maintain end-to-end tests in-house,” Perl said. “Knowing that, the market responded by creating lightweight tools that simplify the job or even enable non-technical people to develop test cases. While those tools definitely help, they’re attempting to solve the wrong problem. The fundamental problem is that the industry still treats test coverage as something to build, rather than something to buy.”

QA Wolf

Image Credits: QA Wolf

Perl founded QA Wolf in 2019 with the goal of changing that, bringing on co-founders Laura Cressman and Scott Wilson. Perl was previously the head of technology at home service booking platform Dispatch and the CTO of pharmacy supply chain firm Zipdrug. Cressman was a senior software engineer at Cityblock Health, a healthcare company spun out of Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, while Wilson was an account manager at Amazon before joining Wyze Labs — his most recent employer prior to QA Wolf — as a director of growth marketing.

At a high level, QA Wolf integrates with companies’ existing internal systems to give a real-time view of their software’s performance. Clients submit a short demo of their app, which QA Wolf uses to build a testing plan and begin coding automated test suites. The platform supports most any software app accessible via the web, including those that leverage third-party services like Stripe and Salesforce.

As QA Wolf builds out test coverage, it works with clients to help build tests into their processes and address problems with tests as they crop up. Perl notes that tests are written in Playwright, an open source testing package, allowing them to be migrated to other platforms if customers so wish.

“QA Wolf solves both problems with our technology and people approach, and a business model that incentivizes high performing and accurate testing,” Perl said. “For executives and technical leaders, QA Wolf ensures that their customers are getting the best possible user experience — free of bugs — for a fraction of the cost of how QA was historically done.”

QA Wolf promises a lot. But in a sign that it’s delivering on at least some of those assurances, the 45-person startup already has more than 50 customers, including early-stage ventures like Vividly, Minno and Worksome. Perl declined to reveal revenue figures, but he said that he expects QA Wolf’s workforce to grow to 60 employees by the end of the year as new clients come online.

Perl claims that QA Wolf will continue to differentiate in the future by building datasets of tests across web apps, which will allow it to develop new products and services on top of what the company already offers.

“Through economies of scale, QA Wolf’s capabilities will only become more powerful, enabling us to deliver high test coverage at an even lower cost than in-house or outsourced alternatives,” he said, stressing that QA Wolf is in stable shape compared to the larger microenvironment for young startups. “The pandemic has been a positive for us by shortening sales cycles with the shift to Zoom … In terms of the broader slowdown in tech, so far we have not seen a slowdown in growth and had our biggest week ever for new sales last week. Our revenue has gone up 25x over the past year and business has doubled in the last 6 months alone.”

QA Wolf exits stealth with an end-to-end service for software testing by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

OneSignal lands $50M to automatically optimize SMS, in-app and email campaigns

OneSignal, a platform that powers notifications for mobile apps and more, today announced that it raised $50 million in a Series C round led by BAM Elevate with participation from SignalFire and other existing investors. The infusion brings OneSignal’s total raised to $80 million and will be used to make investments in machine learning, geographic expansion, and growing OneSignal’s team (from 140 employees to 170) by the end of the year.

Beginning as a mobile game studio, OneSignal pivoted to customer engagement when co-founder and CEO George Deglin saw an opportunity to address a perennial challenge in app development: creating an effective push notification pipeline.

“There is a huge shift happening in the mobile app industry. Technology and regulatory changes have made advertising less effective and more expensive by making it harder to target ads on platforms like Facebook. As a result, companies are shifting their focus from paid advertising channels like Facebook Ads to ‘owned channels’ like push notifications, emails, and in-app messages,” Deglin told TechCrunch via email. “Despite this recent shift, most of the technology that’s available to help brands engage with users on owned channels was not built for a mobile-centric world.”

By contrast, Deglin asserts, OneSignal is mobile-centric, with tools designed to let businesses automate the delivery of messages across channels, including SMS, email, and app notifications and in-app messages. OneSignal customers can centralize user communications within the platform, customizing their campaigns based on metrics to improve open rates.

There’s truth to the notion that customized, personalized messages can move product. According to a 2021 McKinsey survey, 76% of consumers said that receiving personalized communications was a key factor in prompting their consideration of a brand, while 78% said such content made them more likely to repurchase.

“OneSignal was founded by Long Vo and I in 2015. Long and I were running a Y Combinator-backed game studio but pivoted it into a push notification platform [and then a customer engagement solution] after discovering how hard it was for developers to communicate with their users,” Deglin said. “Prior to their meeting, I was the co-founder and CTO of Uversity, a student engagement platform. Long Vo was co-founder and art director of Gaia Online, an anime-themed social network. We were introduced through a mutual friend who thought we would be great co-founders for each other.”

OneSignal

Image Credits: OneSignal

OneSignal competes with Braze, CleverTap, and Xtremepush, among others. Braze is a publicly traded company, having raised around $175 million when private, while CleverTap most recently bagged $105 million in funding at a $775 million valuation. But Deglin argues that OneSignal differentiates itself by focusing on “intelligent delivery,” or analyzing the time and day users engage with an app and automatically scheduling “re-engagement” campaigns to be delivered based on the historical trends.

“By providing these types of automatic personalizations, OneSignal enables its customers to focus on building great apps and saves them time and guesswork that they would otherwise spend trying to determine the best time or frequency to send their messages,” Deglin added. “Just as smartphones are getting better at making recommendations based on how people use them, OneSignal sees an opportunity to democratize technology for all app developers to optimize their messaging campaigns to provide more personalized experiences to their users.”

Indeed, OneSignal has grown quite large, with over 1.7 million developers and marketers on the platform and roughly 6,000 paying customers. One accelerant has been OneSignal’s freemium plan, Deglin says, which limits certain features but doesn’t cap the number of users or messages that customers can send push notifications to.

“OneSignal has rapidly grown during the pandemic as more businesses recognized the importance of keeping their customers engaged, and increasing retention, with push notifications and emails … The company has also benefited from changes in the advertising ecosystem that have made it more costly to acquire users and, therefore, even more important to maximize user retention,” Deglin said. “OneSignal was well prepared for economic headwinds and has continued to grow quickly while not overspending. This round allows OneSignal to reach profitability while maintaining rapid growth … Efficiency has been a focus for the business and gross margins are over 90%.”

BAM Elevate’s Jamie McGurk, who’s joining OnSignal’s board of directors, told TechCrunch in a statement: “Today’s users expect hyper-personalized, relevant, and timely communication across every touchpoint. Creating a multichannel communication strategy is a must and OneSignal allows you to do this quickly and easily. It’s an honor to join the OneSignal team and I’m looking forward to working with George and the rest of the leadership team to continue on the great progress the company has made.”