Why We Are so Excited to Announce our Investment in Lunar.dev
Angular Ventures Weekly Issue #204: For the week ended November 14, 2023
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Why we are so excited to announce our investment in Lunar.dev
Last week, Lunar.dev announced their seed round, led by our good friend Andy McLoughlin at Uncork Capital in San Francisco. Lunar.dev is an API consumption management platform that makes it vastly easier for engineering teams to manage the third-party API services they are consuming. We are particularly moved that this announcement is coming now in such a challenging time for Israel, where Lunar.dev is based.
Our journey with Lunar.dev began about 18 months ago, in the spring of 2022. The world was just emerging from Covid. There were signs of a tech slowdown brewing, but few entrepreneurs were aware of the implications. Over two meetings with Eyal and Roy, the co-founders of Lunar.dev, two critical things became clear: First, they had a big ambitious vision for what Lunar.dev could become. Second, they had their feet planted squarely on the ground regarding what it would take to build a significant business.
Let’s start with the second point: grounding in reality. When I met them, Eyal and Roy said that they had received term sheets for “five or six million dollars” at very high valuations for a slightly different concept, one focused primarily on API security. They knew, however, (as did I) that there were already several similar companies. They worried that the VC market was rushing to throw money at them, even as they knew they had not worked out a defensible plan or a unique value proposition. So they walked away from the money and went back to the drawing board. When I met them, Eyal and Roy asked for a small amount of money at a very reasonable valuation so that they could refine their plans and set out for a seed round later on. As I later joked with my partners, I wanted to back them just for that sort of discipline alone. Surely a team this grounded in reality would figure out how to build something valuable and real.
The first point — Lunar.dev’s big ambitious vision — is, of course, even more important to our investment thesis. Eyal and Roy understood that the world of software development is becoming ever more dependent on third-party APIs. So many of today’s mission-critical applications depend in turn on a large and growing set of third-party services, accessed via APIs, over which the authors of the application have little or no direct oversight or control. Consequently, many engineering teams have started to build their own home-grown API middleware infrastructure that hook into the API calls and responses and provide some insight or controls that can be used analytically or even programmatically. What’s the performance of API #1? How much are we spending on API #2? Which customers are triggering which third-party APIs and when? When API #3 is not meeting its SLA, can we automatically fail over to API #4? Can we monitor the content of API calls to API #5 and see what kind of data we are sending out? Could we drive better application performance if we cached responses from API #6 locally?
To meet these needs and many more, Lunar.dev is building the first API consumption platform, built on top of their proprietary Egress API proxy. It is, of course, open source and developer first. If you are consuming third-party APIs in your application, you can check out the github, the documentation, or tinker with the sandbox (no installation required!). A hosted SaaS version of the tool is in the works and can be trialed by request. As a VC, one of the aspects of Lunar.dev that excites me the most is the rapid time to value (TTV) for new customers. Most customers experimenting with Lunar.dev can get results and value very quickly — sometimes in a matter of hours. Fast time to value, easy implementation, and large and growing unmet customer pain points is the formula for rapid revenue growth.
The key benefits that Lunar.dev delivers to customers are:
- Streamlined API Operations and R&D Efficiency: Lunar.dev’s customers frequently face challenges with their development teams being tied up in maintaining and updating API integrations. Lunar.dev has changed this process. It enables seamless control and optimization of API traffic, eliminating the need for manual code changes. What once took weeks of complex development can now be achieved with a simple click. This efficiency not only frees up R&D teams from routine maintenance tasks but also allows them to focus on more strategic initiatives. The scalability of their solution ensures that as the customer’s business grows, their API integrations evolve effortlessly.
- Cost-Effective API Management: As businesses expand, the cost of API usage often escalates. Lunar.dev addresses this directly by providing tools to actively monitor and optimize API calls. This functionality helps significantly reduce spend on third-party APIs.
- Enhanced Risk Mitigation and Compliance: Lunar.dev helps businesses ensure they are compliant with regulations in handling API integrations. The platform includes features like PII obfuscation and authorization token masking, ensuring that sensitive data and API keys remain secure. This is particularly crucial for companies that handle customer data through third-party APIs, as it provides a robust framework to enforce data protection policies, thereby mitigating risks associated with data breaches and non-compliance.
In recognizing the scale of this opportunity, Lunar.dev is not alone. Gartner’s top analysts have maintained for some time that the management of external API integrations is an unmet market need that might call the forming of a new category which they call “API Consumption Management.” Mark O’Neill, Gartner’s Chief of Research for Software Engineering, said recently: “The need for management of API consumption. This is still a largely unmet market need, though I’ve started to see startups targeting this requirement.”
We are incredibly proud to be Lunar.dev’s first VC backer, we are beyond thrilled that Uncork has decided to lead the company’s seed round, and we can’t wait to see what the coming years bring for the Lunar.dev team.
If you are building something huge (like Lunar.dev) and have your feet firmly planted on the ground, we’d love to hear from you!
FROM THE BLOG
Small & Strong Beats Big & Weak
Three startup paradigms in the LLM era.
The End of Entrepreneurship by Autopilot
The unicorn factory has stopped. What are the implications for founders?
The heartbreaking situation in Israel.
2023: The Crucible Year
What is in store for the next 18 months?
OpenAI’s DevDay. Last week all eyes were on OpenAI’s first developer conference, DevDay, where Sam Altman gave a must watch keynote. Several new products and improvements were announced, including GPT-4 Turbo, Custom GPTs, Assistant APIs, an AI app store and more. Additionally, OpenAI announced that ChatGPT with GPT4 Turbo will be able to draw from information as recent as April 2023. They also announced that they would be cutting prices and protecting customers from copyright claims. The implications of OpenAI’s new products and pricing may be an “extinction event” for other AI companies. Including several startups from the latest Y Combinator batch as this X user pointed out. Following DevDay, Bill Gates shared his thoughts on AI Agents. “In the computing industry, we talk about platforms — the technologies that apps and services are built on. Android, iOS, and Windows are all platforms. Agents will be the next platform. To create a new app or service, you won’t need to know how to write code or do graphic design. You’ll just tell your agent what you want. It will be able to write the code, design the look and feel of the app, create a logo, and publish the app to an online store. OpenAI’s launch of GPTs this week offers a glimpse into the future where non-developers can easily create and share their own assistants. Agents will affect how we use software as well as how it’s written. They’ll replace search sites because they’ll be better at finding information and summarizing it for you. They’ll replace many e-commerce sites because they’ll find the best price for you and won’t be restricted to just a few vendors. They’ll replace word processors, spreadsheets, and other productivity apps.”
Talon acquisition. Palo Alto Networks is acquiring Talon, an Israeli cybersecurity firm for an estimated $625M, following their purchase of Dig Security for $315M earlier this month. Talon was founded in 2021 and had raised $126M. Its browser simplifies secure access to corporate applications, enhancing Palo Alto’s cybersecurity portfolio. One of the best parts about this acquisition is that both employees and investors are going to get meaningful capital. “As part of the deal, the company’s 130 employees are expected to receive an estimated $70–80 million, resulting in a substantial number of employees receiving compensation exceeding one million dollars each. In their latest fundraising round, the company was valued at $350 million, which ensures a significant return for all company investors. This sets it apart from recent cyber transactions where late-stage investors often did not turn a profit.”
The AI pin. Humane launched their highly anticipated AI pin, with an Apple style launch video. The pin is controlled by gestures and is a screen-free alternative to a smartphone. Standout features include “catch me up” summaries for messages, live language translation, and AI-assisted search. While it may not dethrone the iPhone, the AI pin introduces a novel form factor and represents an exciting leap into AI-centric devices.
HOW TO STARTUP
The tech carnage of 2023. As Gil has written about in the past, the tech industry faced a stark contrast in 2023: while most sectors experienced layoffs, funding struggles, and failures, the AI sector thrived. Overall, funds going into startups plummeted and startups and large tech companies underwent widespread layoffs. According to The Information, of the startups that use Carta “543 shut down in the first three quarters, compared to 467 for all of last year.” However, the AI sector has bucked this trend. Investments poured into OpenAI, Anthropic, and other AI startups, defying the broader industry downturn. “The only people that had a good time [this year] were early-stage AI companies,” according Immad Akhund, CEO of Mercury. Unfortunately, the new year may not bring much relief. “Many investors believe the carnage in the startup sector will increase as companies that haven’t raised money since 2021 simply run out of cash.”
2023 SaaS benchmarks report. OpenView has released their 2023 SaaS benchmarks report, a must read for all SaaS founders. Their key takeaways are:
- “While growth is much harder to come by in 2023, there are pockets of resilience amid the doom-and-gloom.
- The North Star for many has become ARR per FTE, which reflects the productivity of your team. We’ve seen big increases in ARR per FTE year-on-year.
- Positioning yourself as “AI” doesn’t impact growth. But monetizing AI does.
- To drive productivity, companies need efficient product-led growth (PLG), expansion within the customer base, and improved operations.”
HOW TO VENTURE
Small vs. large VC funds. Samir Kaji, CEO of Allocate, shared an insightful post on investing in small vs large VC funds and what LPs have to take into account.
Lunar.dev announced their $6M seed round led by Uncork Capital, with participation from Angular Ventures, and unveiled their open source platform which help developers take control of third-party API costs.
JFrog introduced native integrations with developer tools at KubeCon.