API mania: MuleSoft scores a massive $128 million to simplify cloud interoperability

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If it seemed like the investor interest surrounding API management reached a peak after Apigee Inc. raised $87 million in its stock market debut last month, think again. MuleSoft Inc. has upped the ante this morning with the completion of a $128 million round that ought to turn up the heat for its publicly-traded rival.

The bulk of the new capital comes from Salesforce.com Inc., SAP SE and Cisco Systems Inc., three of the company’s most important partners in their respective parts of the enterprise. The landmark investment buys the technology giants a bigger voice in the direction of what is emerging as a key strategic asset.

MuleSoft’s platform provides functionality for connecting the dots between traditional on-premise applications and the new breeds of workloads emerging on the corporate network, particularly cloud services and connected devices. Its success can be traced to a classic combination of good timing and market savvy.

The company launched the original free release of its integration toolkit nearly a decade ago at a time when traditional rivals such as Informatica Corp. and TIBCO Inc. dominated the space with expensive proprietary solutions. The then-unique accessibility of MuleSoft’s offering triggered predictably massive uptake among the developers that has since spread to the mainstream enterprise.

The outfit now boasts more than 2,500 production users, including 700 paying customers such as Verizon Communications Inc., Nestlé S.A. and many other of the world’s most recognizable brands, that helped more than double its bookings in 2014. The new capital infusion is meant to help sustain that growth.

The $128 million represents more than half the total amount of venture capital that MuleSoft has raised so far, which should earn Salesforce and the other backers enough of a say in strategic matters to prevent its technology from falling into the hands of a rival such as Oracle Corp. through an acquisition. That’s on top of the potential direct financial returns from the investment.

MuleSoft CEO Greg Schott has hinted that he may seek to follow Apigee to the stock exchange, which might happen sooner rather than later considering that the company is already past the $100 million run-rate mark that signals IPSO-readiness in conventional Wall Street wisdom. If recent history is anything to go by, that public offering provide a hefty exist for investors, a goal that unifies Salesforce with NEA, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and the other more traditional investors that contributed to the round.

For the time being, however, MuleSoft will focus on using its newly obtained funds to accelerate the development of its technology and scale global operations. The company already claims to have more than 500 employees across 10 locations around the world.
Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis via Flickr