The barriers between the physical and digital world are dissolving more rapidly now than ever, and few of the companies I’ve worked with epitomize this more than Apigee.
The company’s IPO this week is a testament to a leadership team that was willing to take risks in a new market when it became evident how smart phones and the app-driven universe were fundamentally altering how customers interact with businesses.
Before joining Apigee as CEO, Chet Kapoor spent several years in leadership positions at software companies including IBM, BEA Systems, Gluecode, and NeXT. I’ve worked closely with Chet since 2007 when he joined the company. Since then, I’ve witnessed a unique blend of leadership and vision as he grew the company and product to enable true business acceleration.
From a hardware company that built enterprise data-security appliances to a software and services company that has positioned itself as the premier solution for all API (or application programming interface) pipelines, Apigee is a model of how a company can grow yet remain nimble and discerning enough to pivot when markets change. In March, with Apigee’s launch of Apigee Link, an API platform for the Internet of Things, this trend continued.
Today’s ‘digital natives’ take a personalized, rich experience for granted across any app and any device, and all businesses must innovate to stay ahead and serve this new consumer base. Understanding this, Apigee took its original expertise in protecting data as it moved between backend and consumer platforms and leveraged this for the new era.
Apigee transitioned from its hardware platform in 2009 (with a name change from Sonoa Systems to Apigee in the process) and developed an API platform, Apigee Edge, that any company can use to quickly develop rich customer-facing apps with full access to the company’s backend.
Take Walgreens, for example. In 2012, the drugstore chain tapped Apigee Edge to enable it to develop a set of APIs that lets developers easily include an option in their apps for users to send their cell-phone photos to be printed at their local Walgreens store. Walgreens included the feature in its own mobile app, and third-party developers soon followed suit, using the Walgreens QuickPrints API to include the feature in their own apps. This gave Walgreens important positioning in the digital universe just as drugstore chains were seeing a decline in customers who brought disks to the store for photo printing. (source: Walgreens: Putting an API Around Their Stores)
Walgreens extended this concept to its prescription business a year later, developing an API that lets third-party healthcare app developers include an option for customers to have prescriptions filled at Walgreens.
But Apigee didn’t stop there. The company built an ecosystem of services around its API platform, from analytics, to security, to developer services. Where a less forward-thinking model might focus on just one of the above components in increasing participation in our burgeoning digital economy, Apigee recognized the iterative power in the loop between users and the backend, with APIs being less of a crux, but one of several links in a chain that lead to scalability and growth.
According to Forrester, every business is a software business that must provide seamless customer experiences across digital and physical channels and respond quickly to fast-changing customer expectations to meet the demands of hyper-connected customers, partners and employees. We see enterprises continuing to adopt APIs at a rapid pace (no surprise, because apps can’t even be built without APIs!), and I believe Apigee is well-positioned to take advantage of this growth.
When I joined Apigee’s board as a director in 2004, it was clear that the company was laying a foundation for a business arena that is likely to grow in significance as the digital age continues to bloom. I’m thrilled to see Apigee take its principle of using a robust API framework as the key to business acceleration to the public.