Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.
A cluster of related companies recently caught our eye by raising capital in rapid-fire fashion. TechCrunch covered a few of them, and I read coverage of others. Looking back through my notes and the media cycles that they generated, it feels safe to say that API-based startups are hot right now.
What’s fun about this trend is that the startups we’re considering are all relatively early-stage, so they aren’t limping unicorns staring down a closed IPO window. Instead, we’re taking a peek at startups that mostly haven’t raised material external capital — yet. They have lots of room to grow.
And the group is somewhat easy to understand. Sure, I don’t fully grok their underlying tech — that’s a bit of the point with API startups; they take something complex and offer it in an easy-to-consume fashion — but I do get how they make money. Not only are their business models fairly easy to understand, there are public companies that monetized in similar ways for us to use as a framework as the startups themselves scale.
What’s an API-based startup?
Simply: a high-growth company that delivers its main service via an application programming interface, or API.
APIs help services communicate with other apps, allowing them to execute tasks or request information quickly and easily. These services are sometimes highly valuable because they can offer something complex and difficult, easily and simply.