Great companies aren't built overnight - the story of Mashery
One of the myths consistently perpetuated in Silicon Valley is that great companies are built overnight. They aren't. Companies with impact take time to build - often because their founders see the future before anyone else can live it and as Jeff Bezos says, "are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time". Out of the limelight, great founders fight on when everyone else doubts them.
That is most certainly the story of Oren Michels and the Mashery team.
Even if the name "Mashery" doesn't ring a bell, you have probably unknowingly used a product powered by their technology. Ever stream a movie with Netflix? Check an ESPN app? Visit CBS interactive? Read about a car on Edmunds? Research a house on Trulia? Check the news from the NY Times, USA Today or The Guardian? Answer questions with SurveyMonkey? Then you've touched their tech.
Mashery helps companies manage, scale, and secure their APIs. As with many innovations, this product concept is really easy to take for granted today. In 2006, when First Round Capital sat down at a dinner table with Oren, Scott Rafer, Kirsten Spoljaric and Clay Loveless to literally sketch out the plan for Mashery on a napkin, things were different. Not only were Fortune 500 companies not looking to open their platforms to developers, most didn't think of their technical infrastructure as a an extensible platform. Instead they had big systems, just a few applications, and thought that was just fine.
When you build an enterprise business, you're often not rewarded for seeing the future before your customers – and the term "educating the market" is a bad thing. Although few companies were embracing APIs, the Mashery team persisted on with their belief that the future would be different. While customer wins were slow, everyday they saw more evidence that that the web was making it imperative for businesses to think of their backend systems as platforms to build on. Slowly, customers began to ramp.
With the launch of the iPhone AppStore in July 2008, the world began to catch-up to Mashery. With each app that was downloaded, it became more apparent in enterprises around the world that customers would demand products that worked across platforms, and that the best way to enable these types of experiences was with a robust and dynamic API. Even then, Mashery remained its most creative evangelist. The company founded the Business of APIs conference to bring together the pioneers of their space. Every attendee in SF, New York and London felt like they were part of a movement. And like most great enterprise companies, they built a tremendous sales culture.
Mashery has long been a steady force behind some great overnight successes. But today, with the announcement of Intel's acquisition of the company, we're thrilled to see Mashery take it's turn in the limelight. We couldn't be more excited for Oren and the entire Mashery family. Congratulations. Thank you for letting us be a part of the journey and we can't wait to see what you can do in your new home.
For more on the Mashery story - watch our exit interview below...
Read These Next
Announcing our Investment in Zendrive
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Jonathan Matus over the past 6 months. Jonathan has been an important figure in the mobile world for years, most recently as a leader on the development of Facebook's mobile platform, and previously as a Google product lead on the original Android team.
Anthropology, Authenticity and Design: Why First Round Invested in Cluster
The problems solved by the best consumer apps are anthropological. The starting point is understanding the things that people have always done and why. Then you study how technology can be used to enable people to do it with much less friction. That's the start of a great consumer experience. And if it's done well - really well - the resulting product will feel deceptively simple.