Companies like Stripe and Twilio have put APIs front and center as an effective way to integrate complex functionality that may not be core to your own technology stack but a necessary part of your wider business. Today, a company that has taken that model to create an effective way to integrate email, calendars and other tools into other apps using APIs is announcing a big round of funding to expand its business.
Nylas, which describes itself as a communications API platform — enabling more automation particularly in business apps by integrating productivity tools through a few lines of code — has raised $120 million in funding, money that it will be using to continue expanding the kinds of APIs that it offers, with a focus in particular not just on productivity apps, but AI and related tools to bring in more automation into workflows.
Nylas is not disclosing its valuation, but this is a very significant step up for the company comes at a time when it is seeing strong traction.
This is more than double what Nylas had raised up to now ($55 million since being founded in 2015), and when it last raised — a $16 million Series B in 2018 — it said it had “thousands of developers” among its users. Now, that number has ballooned to 40,000, with Nylas processing some 1.2 billion API requests each day, working out to 20 terabytes of data, daily. It also said that revenue growth tripled in the last 12 months.
The Series C is bringing a number of interesting names to Nylas’s cap table. New investor Tiger Global Management is leading the round, with previous backers Citi Ventures, Slack Fund, 8VC and Round13 Capital also participating. Other new backers in this round include Owl Rock Capital, a division of Blue Owl (which itself is a division of insurance giant State Farm); Stripe co-founders Patrick Collison and John Collison; Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski; and Tony Fadell.
As with other companies in the so-called API economy, the gap and opportunity that Nylas has identified is that there are a lot of productivity tools that largely exist in their own silos — meaning when a person wants to use them when working in an application, they have to open a separate application to do so. At the same time, building new, say, tools, or building a bridge to integrate an existing application, can be time-consuming and complex.
Nylas first identified this issue with email, and its integration to make it easier to use it — and the data that is housed in one’s email system (such as contacts and communicating with them) — in other apps picked up a lot of followers, leading the company to expand into other areas that today include scheduling and calendaring, a neural API to build in tools like sentiment analysis or productivity automation; and security integrations to streamline the Google OAuth security review process (used for example in an app geared at developers).
“The fundamental shift towards digital communications and connectivity has resulted in companies across all industries increasingly leaning on developers to solve critical business challenges and build unique and engaging products and experiences. As a result, APIs have become core to modern software development and digital transformation,” Gleb Polyakov, co-founder and CEO of Nylas, said in statement. “Through our suite of powerful APIs, we’re arming developers with the tools and applications needed to meet customer and market needs faster, create competitive differentiation through powerful and customized user experiences, and generate operational ROI through more productive and intelligently automated processes and development cycles. We’re thrilled to continue advancing our mission to make the world more productive and are honored to have the backing of distinguished investors and entrepreneurs.”
Indeed, the rise of Nylas and the function it fulfills is part of a bigger shift we’ve seen in businesses overall: as organizations become more digitized and use more cloud-based apps to get work done, developers have emerged as key mechanics to help that machine run. A bigger emphasis on APIs to integrate services together is part of their much-used toolkit, one of the defining reasons for investors backing Nylas today.
“Companies are rapidly adopting APIs as a way to automate productivity and find new and innovative ways to support modern work and collaboration,” said John Curtius, a partner at Tiger, in a statement. “This trend has become critical to creating frictionless and meaningful data-driven communications that power digital transformation. We believe Nylas is uniquely positioned to lead the future of the API economy.” Curtius is joining the board with this round.