The Rise of MuleSoft
A primal problem that even the most seasoned of developers face, when writing enterprise software, is making systems talk to each other. Working as a technologist moving data around the heavy weight backend systems for leading financial organisations, Ross Mason felt no different. The integrations were hard to find and the development was indeed a very costly affair both in terms of the finances and time involved. In 2003, Ross started working on a pet project, Mule, that laid the foundations of the unicorn we today know as MuleSoft. He resigned, finished the first cut of the integration platform, made the code available on SourceForge as a free to use software and took off for a well deserved break to travel across South America and Australia. It was during his stay at Australia that he realised that the product he developed and launched as free, was actually being used and was definitely benefitting a significant user base. The silent forums had jittered to life and now people wanted more.
Mason joined Atlassian during his stay at Australia and worked on their SaaS offering for a while before deciding on moving to London and starting up Symphony Software, a consulting firm building integration solutions for banks and other financial institutions based on top of Mule. He soon realised that this wasn’t the path he wanted to follow and pitched Mule to a few VC firms. Mulesoft raised $4 Million in June, 2006 and kicked off as a premium open source model. The existing Mule projects were left open source and free but there was a paid model for enterprise grade features and value added services like security. It gained significant traction in a user conference at San Francisco later that year followed by a series B funding round of $12.5 Million in mid 2007 from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Morgenthaler and Humwin. In a little over one year, it had 50,000 registrations.
Surviving the 2008 recession, Mulesoft started focussing on APIs, connectors and cloud integration. Realizing a scenario that “if the apps are moving to the cloud as enterprise SaaS, firms might soon expect the integration to move to the cloud as well”, it rolled out a paid iPaaS offering, CloudHub which also had a graphical interface tool which was still open source. 2009 saw significant change in the organizational structure at the growing giant and Greg Schott from SpringSource was brought in as their new CEO and President. The year also saw a considerable number of strategic partnerships coming in with the chief amongst them being with the SaaS leader, Salesforce. MuleSoft partnered with Salesforce as the provider of data integration with their analytics platform, Wave. Another prominent integration was with Workday’s HRM software. Mulesoft had not only secured very prominent partners but had also expanded its domain into sectors other than financial software. This was followed by a $12M series C round of funding with Sapphire Ventures and Bay Partners joining the club.
MuleSoft had, from its inception, emphasised on the ease of development and reuse of components and following that to this day, provides the ‘Anypoint Platform’ of integration products that tie together software as a service (SaaS) and on-premises applications. Additionally, the platform also provides API-led painless, uncomplicated enterprise data migration to a cloud based environment with an easy drag-drop feature. Other major offering is the APIHub, a directory that is designed to function as a social network for developers who want to share updates and information about more than 13000 APIs. For consumers and developers, it serves a catalogue of APIs along with an interactive development environment for running basic queries along with a publishing platform and tools to automatically generate and create API documentation. It raised a whopping $128 Million at a valuation of almost $1.5 Billion in a series G round of funding in May 2015 with Salesforce investing a major chunk.
MuleSoft is used in production by a significant fraction of the Fortune 500 companies including Walmart, MasterCard, Nokia, Nestlé and Honeywell, and powers integrations with leading SaaS vendors such as Salesforce, NetSuite, Workday, Intuit and Zuora.
So, what comes next? An IPO?
Maybe, Maybe Not.. It’s more than a unicorn now.