(this article originally appeared in TechCrunch and was written by Alex Wilhelm)
TechCrunch has covered Zapier often during its life, including its first, and only, fundraising event, a $1.2 million round back in 2012 that tapped Bessemer, DFJ and others. Since then the company has added more expensive tiers to its service, built out team-focused features, and recently talked to Extra Crunch about how it scaled its remote-only team.
In an interview Monday, Zapier CEO Wade Foster told TechCrunch that his company now has 400 workers and crossed the $100 million ARR mark last summer.
The Makerpad deal is its first acquisition. TechCrunch asked Makerpad founder Ben Tossell about the structure of the deal, who said via email that his company will operate as a “stand-alone” entity from its new parent company.
The deal doesn’t seem prepped to upend what the smaller startup was working on before it was signed. “Ultimately,” Tossell wrote, “Makerpad’s vision is to educate as many people as possible on the possibilities of building without writing code.”
Foster seems content with that focus, describing to TechCrunch how he intends to let Makerpad operate largely independently, albeit inside a set of editorial guidelines.
TechCrunch asked the Makerpad founder why this was the right time to sell his business. He said that the pairing would help his team take the no-code world farther than it could alone, also noting that the deal was a “no-brainer” over “alternative routes such as VC funding.”
The acquisition was partially driven by a single tweet. This one, in fact. According to Tossell, the CEO of Zapier reached out after reading it, leading to conversations and a deal. Foster expanded on the story during a call, saying that he had long followed Tossell’s work and that the two had met previously at dinners. The tweet wound up in his Slack, he said, so he reached out to the Makerpad founder, and from there it was a pretty quick ramp to a deal.
The two companies have seen rapid growth in recent quarters. Foster detailed to TechCrunch how small businesses have become increasingly reliant on his company’s service in the post-COVID world, with Zapier seeing strong SMB adoption after the pandemic hit. Given the digital transformation’s acceleration, that’s a trend that likely won’t slow soon. And Tossell told TechCrunch that no-code has already “grown bigger than [he] had imagined it could,” with his company seeing users expanding 4x in just under the last year.
Zapier, perhaps one of the largest success stories in the broad swath of technology products that we might call the no-code world, now has an attached community that could help directly add users to its service, and perhaps indirectly by making the aggregate pool of no-coders larger over time.
The no-code space has been active in recent months, as has its sibling niche, the low-code market. The latter has seen recent rounds in the nine figures, as some corporations turn to low-code tools to help them more quickly build internal software. The no-code world has its own successes, like Zapier’s nine-figure revenues.
Foster was neutral on more acquisitions, neither closing the door on them when TechCrunch asked, but not opening it any wider at the same time. On the SPAC question, however, the CEO was a bit clearer. That’s a no.
After having spoken to a grip of no-code and low-code founders and investors in recent months, it seems clear that the broader business market is coming around to low-code services and that smaller companies have been quick adopters of no-code tooling. As low-code tools become increasingly abstracted from coding, and no-code tools add functionality, perhaps we’ll see the two related categories merge.