Sinch announces Conversation API to bring together multiple messaging tools

As communicating with customers across the world grows ever more challenging due to multiple channels, tools and networking providers, companies are looking for a way to simplify it all. Sinch, a company that makes communications APIs, announced a new tool this morning called the Conversation API designed to make it easier to interact with customers across the planet using multiple messaging products.

Sinch chief product officer Vikram Khandpur says that business is being conducted in different messaging channels such as SMS, WhatsApp or Viber depending on location, and businesses have to be able to communicate with their customers wherever they happen to be from a technology and geographic standpoint. What’s more, this need has become even more pronounced during a pandemic when online communication has become paramount.

Khandpur says that up until now, Sinch has concentrated on optimizing the SMS experience for actions like customer acquisition, customer engagement, delivery notifications and customer support. Now the company wants to take that next step into richer omni-channel messaging.

The idea is to provide a set of tools to help marketing teams communicate across these multiple channels by walking them through the processes required by each player. “By writing to our API, what we can provide is that we can get our customers on all these platforms if they are not already on these platforms,” he said.

He uses WhatsApp as an example because it has a very defined process for brands to work with it. “On WhatsApp, there is this concept of creating these pre-approved templates, and they need to be reviewed, curated and finally approved by the WhatsApp team. We help them with that process, and then do the same with other channels and platforms, so we take that complexity away from the brand,” Khandpur explained.

He adds, “By giving us that message once, we take care of all of [the different tools] behind the scenes transcoding when needed. So if you give us a very rich message with images and videos, WhatsApp may want to render it in a certain way, but then Viber renders that in a different way, and we take care of that.

Sinch Conv API Transcoding

Examples of transcoding across messaging channels. Image Credits: Sinch

Marketers can use the Conversation API to define parameters like using WhatsApp first in India, but if the targeted customer doesn’t open WhatsApp, then fall back to SMS.

The company has made four acquisitions in the last year including ACL Mobile in India and SAP’s Interconnect Messaging business to enhance its presence across the world.

Sinch, which competes with Twilio in the communications API space, may be one of the most successful companies you never heard of, generating over $500 million in revenue last year while processing over 110 billion messages.

The company launched in Sweden in 2008 and has never taken a dime of venture capital, yet has been profitable since early days. In fact, it’s publicly traded on the NASDAQ Exchange in Stockholm and will be reporting earnings next week.

Twilio’s $3.2B Segment acquisition is about helping developers build data-fueled apps

The pandemic has forced businesses to change the way they interact with customers. Whether it’s how they deliver goods and services, or how they communicate, there is one common denominator, and that’s that everything is being forced to be digitally driven much faster.

To some extent, that’s what drove Twilio to acquire Segment for $3.2 billion today. (We wrote about the deal over the weekend. Forbes broke the story last Friday night.) When you get down to it, the two companies fit together well, and expand the platform by giving Twilio customers access to valuable customer data. Chee Chew, Twilio’s chief product officer, says while it may feel like the company is pivoting in the direction of customer experience, they don’t necessarily see it that way.

“A lot of people have thought about us as a communications company, but we think of ourselves as a customer engagement company. We really think about how we help businesses communicate more effectively with their customers,” Chew told TechCrunch.

Laurie McCabe, co-founder and partner at SMB Group, sees the move related to the pandemic and the need companies have to serve customers in a more fully digital way. “More customers are realizing that delivering a great customer experience is key to survive through the pandemic, and thriving as the economy recovers — and are willing to spend to do this even in uncertain times,” McCabe said.

Certainly Chew recognized that Segment gives them something they were lacking by providing developers with direct access to customer data, and that could lead to some interesting applications.

“The data capabilities that Segment has are providing a full view of the customer. It really layers across everything we do. I think of it as a horizontal add across the channels and extending beyond. So I think it really helps us advance in a different sort of way […] towards getting the holistic view of the customer and enabling our customers to build intelligence services on top,” he said.

Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials, sees Segment helping to provide a powerful data-fueled developer experience. “This move allows Twilio to impact the data-insight-interaction-experience transformation process by removing friction from developers using their platform,” Leary explained. In other words, it gives developers that ability that Chew alluded to, to use data to build more varied applications using Twilio APIs.

Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, and founder and principal analyst at 56 Group, agrees, saying, “Segment gives Twilio the ability to use customer data in what is already a powerful unified communications platform and hub. And since it is, in effect, APIs for both, the flexibility [for developers] is enormous,” he said.

That may be so, but Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says the company has to be seeing that the pure communication parts of the platform like SMS are becoming increasingly commoditized, and this deal, along with the SendGrid acquisition in 2018, gives Twilio a place to expand its platform into a much more lucrative data space.

“Twilio needs more growth path and it looks like its strategy is moving up the stack, at least with the acquisition of Segment. Data movement and data residence compliance is a huge headache for enterprises when they build their next generation applications,” Mueller said.

As Chew said, early on the problems were related to building SMS messages into applications and that was the problem that Twilio was trying to solve because that’s what developers needed at the time, but as it moves forward, it wants to provide a more unified customer communications experience, and Segment should help advance that capability in a big way for them.

Standing by developers through Google v. Oracle

The Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in Google v. Oracle. This case raises a fundamental question for software developers and the open-source community: Whether copyright may prevent developers from using software’s functional interfaces — known as APIs — to advance innovation in software. The court should say no — free and open APIs protect innovation, competition and job mobility for software developers in America.

When we use an interface, we don’t need to understand (or care) about how the function on the other side of the interface is performed. It just works. When you sit down at your computer, the QWERTY keyboard allows you to rapidly put words on the screen. When you submit an online payment to a vendor, you are certain the funds will appear in the vendor’s account. It just works.

In the software world, interfaces between software programs are called “application programming interfaces” or APIs. APIs date back to the 1950s and allow developers to write programs that reuse other program functionality without knowing how that functionality is performed. If your program needs to sort a list, you could have it use a sorting program’s API to sort the list for your program. It just works.

Developers have historically used software interfaces free of copyright concerns, and this freedom has accelerated innovation, software interoperation and developer job mobility. Developers using existing APIs save time and effort, allowing those savings to be refocused on new ideas. Developers can also reimplement APIs from one software platform to others, enabling innovation to flow freely across software platforms.

Importantly, reusing APIs gives developers job portability, since knowledge of one set of APIs is more applicable cross-industry. The upcoming Google v. Oracle decision could change this, harming developers, open-source software and the entire software industry.

Google v. Oracle and the platform API bargain

Google v. Oracle is the culmination of a decade-long dispute. Back in 2010, Oracle sued Google, arguing that Google’s Android operating system infringed Oracle’s rights in Java. After ten years, the dispute now boils down to whether Google’s reuse of Java APIs in Android was copyright infringement.

Prior to this case, most everyone assumed that copyright did not cover the use of functional software like APIs. Under that assumption, competing platforms’ API reimplementation allowed developers to build new yet familiar things according to the API bargain: Everyone could use the API to build applications and platforms that interoperate with each other. Adhering to the API made things “just work.”

But if the Google v. Oracle decision indicates that API reimplementation requires copyright permission, the bargain falls apart. Nothing “just works” unless platform makers say so; they now dictate rules for interoperability — charging developers huge prices for the platform or stopping rival, compatible platforms from being built.

Free and open APIs are essential for modern developers

If APIs are not free and open, platform creators can stop competing platforms from using compatible APIs. This lack of competition blocks platform innovation and harms developers who cannot as easily transfer their skills from project to project, job to job.

MySQL, Oracle’s popular database, reimplemented mSQL’s APIs so third-party applications for mSQL could be “ported easily” to MySQL. If copyright had restricted reimplementation of those APIs, adoption of MySQL, reusability of old mSQL programs and the expansion achieved by the “LAMP” stack would have been stifled, and the whole ecosystem would be poorer for it. This and other examples of API reimplementation — IBM’s BIOS, Windows and WINE, UNIX and Linux, Windows and WSL, .NET and Mono, have driven perhaps the most amazing innovation in human history, with open-source software becoming critical digital infrastructure for the world.

Similarly, a copyright block on API-compatible implementations puts developers at the mercy of platform makers say so — both for their skills and their programs. Once a program is written for a given set of APIs, that program is locked-in to the platform unless those APIs can also be used on other software platforms. And once a developer learns skills for how to use a given API, it’s much easier to reuse than retrain on APIs for another platform. If the platform creator decides to charge outrageous fees, or end platform support, the developer is stuck. For nondevelopers, imagine this: The QWERTY layout is copyrighted and the copyright owner decided to charge $1,000 dollars per keyboard. You would have a choice: Retrain your hands or pay up.

All software used by anyone was created by developers. We should give developers the right to freely reimplement APIs, as developer ability to shift applications and skills between software ecosystems benefits everyone — we all get better software to accomplish more.

I hope that the Supreme Court’s decision will pay heed to what developer experience has shown: Free and open APIs promote freedom, competition, innovation and collaboration in tech.

Nivelo nabs $2.5M seed to reduce risk in digital ACH payments

As we plunge deeper into the pandemic, online transactions have become increasingly important, and ACH transactions, the ones that help us get direct deposit of our paychecks or pay our bills are growing ever more essential. Nivelo, an early stage startup from a former JP Morgan executive wants to take the risk out of ACH transactions and today the company announced a $2.5 million seed investment, which closed in mid-August.

FirstMark, Barclays and Anthemis led the round with help from Dash Fund and several individual investors. While the company was announcing its first funding, it also launched a private beta of a Risk Scoring API for payments.

Company co-founder Eli Polanco says that ACH payments are a huge business, but mostly haven’t been updated for quick and safe digital transactions “We protect digital payments in real time, but taking a step back our focus is ACH payments, which are the most ubiquitous payment channel in the U.S.,” Polanco told TechCrunch.

To give you a sense of how big this business is, more than $55 trillion worth of transactions moves through the ACH channel annually, yet Polanco says for the most part, it remains mired in legacy technology. Her company wants to update the risk component by building a set of APIs that companies can tap into and understand the risk associated with a particular transaction.

“We’re unbundling this risk assessment service and packaging it in the easiest way possible in the form of APIs and embedding it into the most critical payment use cases in the U.S.,” she said.

Polanco, who is a Black woman who grew up in the Dominican Republic, started the company in January and went to raise money. She had a lot going for her including a strong background in payments products, a working product and paying customers. While she faced a lot of due diligence, she expected that, especially as a newly minted founder at a time when she couldn’t meet with investors in person.

Still, she knows the odds for Black founders are abysmal, but she says she could only come armed with data and tell her story. “I know that discrimination and racism exist in the world, but I can just live and play offense as much as possible and come prepared,” she said. Ultimately she prevailed and got her funding.

She said that the pandemic has reinforced how important having a safe digital payment system is. “COVID really shone a light into how unprepared we are for where the world is moving to. When COVID happened and a lot of folks were no longer able to rely on checks and cash […] it elevated the prominent rise of moving to digital payments,” she said. And investors saw this too.

Polanco says that she is also building her financial services tooling with the idea of leveling the playing field for everyone. “My hyper focus on risk infrastructure is directly tied to my outsider experience as an immigrant. When you’re trying to get access to any financial service, you’re always the edge case in the risk models that they have, and you’re always going to have additional friction. So when you grow up as a product manager who has always experienced this, you always have a keen sight on building accurate, but accessible FinTech tools,” she said.

Nivelo is taking its first steps as a company with this funding, but it’s on its way with an alpha product and a future road map of products and services. The company is live with a couple of thousand customers today.

Noyo raises $12.5M Series A to keep building its health insurance API business

This morning, Noyo, a startup that provides APIs that link players in the health insurance space, announced that it has closed a $12.5 million Series A round of funding. 

The new capital comes less than a year after the startup disclosed that it had raised around $4 million in pre-seed and seed capital, and that its product was already in the market.

At the time it was clear that Noyo had a laser focus on its part of the healthcare world. Now, nearly a year later, the company confirmed to TechCrunch during conversations surrounding its new capital raise that it’s keeping its focus for now.

Linking the carriers and platforms of other insurance verticals, or varietals, will have to wait.

But Noyo is working in an enormous market, namely the U.S. health insurance universe, one that could provide it with space to grow for years to come. The startup sells the use of its application programming interfaces, or APIs, which in Noyo’s case allow customers to “execute, track, and confirm the fulfillment of member transaction requests to carriers,” citing the startup’s documentation

The company’s product was born out of frustration that Noyo co-founders Shannon Goggin and Dennis Lee dealt with while working for Zenefits, an HR tech unicorn that ran into problems with regulators and customers alike. For more on that story, our prior reporting is useful. (Notably, AgentSync is another API startup play under construction by Zenefits alums.)

The American healthcare market is enormous, lucrative and fraught with inefficiencies and antiquated technology. And the insurance portion of the healthcare market is similarly titanic and broken, providing an outsize opportunity for a startup that can navigate its politics and unique needs with a technology solution able to help incumbents speed up, and save money.

The Series A

Noyo’s new funding event was led by Costanoa Ventures and Spark Capital. Prior investors Core Innovation Capital, Garuda Ventures, the Webb Investment Network, Precursor Ventures and Homebrew upped their investment in the new round.

Homebrew’s Satya Patel was effusive about the company in a comment provided to TechCrunch, saying that Noyo’s “technology and strategic vision have convinced major industry leaders to get on board right out of the gate.” This tracks with what the company has said, including that it has lined up new partnerships with insurance providers Ameritas and Humana.

Patel also noted that “Noyo is helping connect insurance companies and the growing ecosystem of insurtechs,” a portion of the startup market that TechCrunch has worked to track in the last year as it has raised piles of capital, seen notable liquidity and continues to drive headlines more recently.

A good question to ask startups that don’t run their cash accounts near zero before raising new funds is why they raised now. In Noyo’s case, I was curious what was the catalyzing factor for it to go out and raise more capital. 

Goggin said that Noyo had found “really good signal and pickup from our early clients and partners.” That, combined with what she described as a “very clear sense of what we needed to do, and how we could accelerate bringing our future vision to life” were enough for her team to say “alright, let’s settle down, this is working, let’s be able to take the big swings.”

And thus the Series A came together.

Noyo has plans to keep hiring, with Goggin telling TechCrunch that her company is currently around 20 people, but will be around 30 by the time 2021 kicks off. She added that “the nice thing” about her new capital raise is that her startup won’t have “a staffing constraint” when it wants to “roll out a new product.”

The pace at which Noyo builds, then, should accelerate.

Which, in turn, should yield more revenue growth. Goggin cautioned that Noyo is not aiming for profitability but is, at the same time, “a real business with a viable model.” The Series A stage is generally a bit early to press founders on growth metrics, as most won’t share unless they are outlier-good. But happily, by the time that Noyo raises a Series B, it should have enough revenue history for some useful year-over-year comparisons, and we will ask for them.

The Noyo round is another data point that API-delivered startups are seeing good market traction, and that investors are taking notice. Expect to hear from a few more related companies in the next few weeks if my inbox is any indicator of what’s coming up.

Railsbank is buying Wirecard Card Solutions, the UK arm of the disgraced fintech

Looks like another chapter is opening up for Wirecard, the disgraced fintech out of Germany that collapsed into insolvency earlier this year after facing a huge accounting scandal and subsequently failing to make payments on $1.5 billion in loans coming due.

Railsbank, the UK startup backed by Visa and others that offers a range of financial and banking services by way of a set of APIs, has agreed to purchase Wirecard Card Solutions, the UK business that includes card technology and associated assets, including existing client business and some employees.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but a spokesperson for Wirecard said that the deal is expected to be completed in November and represents a significant part of the bigger Wirecard business.

That business, which was publicly traded in Germany, was valued at as much as $19 billion after funding rounds led by the likes of Softbank, and the story of its downfall had been marked out in lots of detail both as it played out and in the months since.

Wirecard Card Solutions is a huge operation in and of itself, with strong links into the wider fintech landscape in Europe. Its services include customised card products as well as debit, prepaid and credit cards, and it’s one of the largest prepaid issuers in Europe that also provides services to Monzo, FairFX, Revolut, Transferwise, Uaccount, Soldo, and Pockit.

Interestingly, Railsbank on paper seems to be a much smaller business. Co-founded by Nigel Verdon and Clive Mitchell, it has raised around $17 million and carries and equally modest valuation, per PitchBook data. (This could imply that the business is being picked up possibly more for shares than cash?)

Of note, Wirecard Acquiring & Issuing GmbH and part of the Wirecard AG group, the parent company in Germany, will continue to hold some shares in Wirecard Card Solutions, the company said.

“In planning the future of the company, one of our key priorities continues to be that our valued customers get the best possible outcome. We believe that our solvent wind-down proposal, including the proposed sale of assets to Railsbank, will achieve that key priority,” said Tom Jennings, MD, Wirecard Card Solutions, in a statement.

“Our hope is that our programme managers will support our proposal and we can move forward in a positive way for all parties. I would like to thank our customers for their ongoing support as well as Mastercard and Visa for their help in making this transition as seamless as possible.”

“We are delighted to have come to this agreement with Wirecard Card Solutions and thank its team for working positively with us during the process,” said Verdon, Railsbank CEO, in a statement. “At the end of the day, customer and team needs are our priority. The Railsbank team will conscientiously work on ensuring customers, programme managers and team members have a seamless transfer to their new home.”

Railsbank’s initial interest in acquiring the distressed assets was first reported last week. In the interim, the startup had emerged as a key benefactor of Wirecard’s downfall: Wirex, a “crypto-friendly” currency account that offers users payment cards that let them pay in local currencies without fees, earlier this week confirmed that it would be switching from Wirecard to Railsbank for card issuing services.

Railsbank said that it already runs some 50 card programs in the UK, EU, US and Singapore and so has the infrastructure in place to take on Wirecard’s business.

No surprise that Railsbank is highlighting this: the migration timing is a critical part of the deal. The development caps off months of speculation around what would happen to Wirecard, which — in addition to its fintech customers and partners — had enterprise customers that included Olympus, Getty Images, Orange and KLM before it hit the rocks.

But given that there are a number of other strong competitors in the same area of enabling business payments, card issuing and related banking and financial services — they include Adyen, FirstData, WorldPay, Stripe, Railscard and more — the big issue was always going to be how quickly the troubled Wirecard business could be acquired and migrated to a potential buyer, before those customers fled.

Join us for a live Q&A with Plaid CEO Zach Perret June 18th at 10 am PT/1 pm ET

Extra Crunch Live, TechCrunch’s chat series for Extra Crunch members, is tacking towards founders after bringing on a host of investors: on Thursday, June 18, Plaid CEO Zach Perret will join us for a conversation.

Plaid, known for APIs that connect fintech applications with users’ bank accounts, came to prominence in late 2018 when it closed a massive $250 million Series C. The round — TechCrunch’s coverage from the time is here — brought the value of the company to $2.65 billion on a post-money basis.

Payments and credit giant Visa bought Plaid earlier this year for $5.3 billion, a neat doubling from its preceding valuation, and a price that was an even greater multiple of its valuation at the time of its Series B and earlier rounds.

Plaid is at the epicenter of a few trends, including fintech’s recent savings and investing boom and the recent VC rush to fund API-focused startups, so our conversation will cover a good amount of ground, including fintech trends, selling a company instead of taking it public, the power of APIs and more. But because this is Extra Crunch Live, we want to hear from you as well. As always, we’ll keep an eye on the Q&A portion of the Zoom and will work in your notes as we go.

Extra Crunch subscribers, hit the jump to add the event to your calendar and save the Zoom link. YouTube information to come. If you aren’t part of Extra Crunch yet, you can get an inexpensive trial here.

See you all there!

Details

Health APIs usher in the patient revolution we have been waiting for

If you’ve ever been stuck using a health provider’s clunky online patient portal or had to make multiple calls to transfer medical records, you know how difficult it is to access your health data.

In an era when control over personal data is more important than ever before, the healthcare industry has notably lagged behind — but that’s about to change. This past month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published two final rules around patient data access and interoperability that will require providers and payers to create APIs that can be used by third-party applications to let patients access their health data.

This means you will soon have consumer apps that will plug into your clinic’s health records and make them viewable to you on your smartphone.

Critics of the new rulings have voiced privacy concerns over patient health data leaving internal electronic health record (EHR) systems and being surfaced to the front lines of smartphone apps. Vendors such as Epic and many health providers have publicly opposed the HHS rulings, while others, such as Cerner, have been supportive.

While that debate has been heated, the new HHS rulings represent a final decision that follows initial rules proposed a year ago. It’s a multi-year win for advocates of greater data access and control by patients.

The scope of what this could lead to — more control over your health records, and apps on top of it — is immense. Apple has been making progress with its Health Records app for some time now, and other technology companies, including Microsoft and Amazon, have undertaken healthcare initiatives with both new apps and cloud services.

It’s not just big tech that is getting in on the action: startups are emerging as well, such as Commure and Particle Health, which help developers work with patient health data. The unlocking of patient health data could be as influential as the unlocking of banking data by Plaid, which powered the growth of multiple fintech startups, including Robinhood, Venmo and Betterment.

What’s clear is that the HHS rulings are here to stay. In fact, many of the provisions require providers and payers to provide partial data access within the next 6-12 months. With this new market opening up, though, it’s time for more health entrepreneurs to take a deeper look at what patient data may offer in terms of clinical and consumer innovation.

The incredible complexity of today’s patient data systems

Salesforce announces new tools to boost developer experience on Commerce Cloud

Salesforce announced some new developer tools today, designed to make it easier for programmers to build applications on top of Commerce Cloud in what is known in industry parlance as a “headless” system.

What that means is that developers can separate the content from the design and management of the site, allowing companies to change either component independently.

To help with this goal, Salesforce announced some new and enhanced APIs that enable developers take advantage of features built into the Commerce Cloud platform without having to build them from scratch. For instance, they could take advantage of Einstein, Salesforce’s artificial intelligence platform, to add elements like next-best actions to the site, the kind of intelligent functionality that would typically be out of reach of most developers.

Developers also often need to connect to other enterprise systems from their eCommerce site to share data with these tools. To fill that need, Salesforce is taking advantage of Mulesoft, the company it purchased almost two years ago for $6.5 billion. Using Mulesoft’s integration technology, Salesforce can help connect to other systems like ERP financial systems or product management tools and exchange information between the two systems.

Brent Leary, founder at CRM Essentials, whose experience with Salesforce goes back to its earliest days, says this about helping give developers the tools that they need to create the same kind of integrated shopping experiences consumers have grown to expect from Amazon.

“These tools give developers real-time insights delivered at the “moment of truth” to optimize conversion opportunities, and automate processes to improve ordering and fulfillment efficiencies. This should give developers in the Salesforce ecosystem what they need to deliver Amazon-like experiences while having to compete with them.” he said.

To help get customers comfortable with these tools, the company also announced a new Commerce Cloud Development Center to access a community of developers who can discuss and share solutions with one another, an SDK with code samples and Trailhead education resources.

Salesforce made these announcement as part of the National Retail Foundation (NRF) Conference taking place in New York City this week.

18 months after acquisition, MuleSoft is integrating more deeply into Salesforce

A year and a half after getting acquired by Salesforce for $6.5 billion, MuleSoft is beginning to resemble a Salesforce company — using its language and its methodologies to describe new products and services. This week at Dreamforce, as the company’s mega customer conference begins in San Francisco, MuleSoft announced a slew of new services as it integrates more deeply into the Salesforce family of products.

MuleSoft creates APIs to connect different systems together. This could be quite useful for Salesforce as a bridge between older software that may be on-prem or in the cloud. It allows Salesforce and its customers to access data wherever it lives, even from different parts of the Salesforce ecosystem itself.

MuleSoft made a number of announcements designed to simplify that process and put it in the hands of more customers. For starters, it’s announcing Accelerators, which are pre-defined integrations that let companies connect more easily to other systems. Not surprisingly, two of the first ones connect data from external products and services to Salesforce Service Cloud and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

“What we’ve done is we’ve pre-built integrations to common back-end systems like ServiceNow and JIRA in Service Cloud, and we prebuilt those integrations, and then automatically connected that data and services through a Salesforce Lightning component directly in the Service console,” Lindsey Irvine, chief marketing officer at MuleSoft, explained.

What this does is allow the agent to get a more complete view of the customer by getting not just the data that’s stored in Salesforce, but in other systems as well.

The company also wants to put these kinds of integration skills in the hands of more Salesforce customers, so they have designed a set of courses in Trailhead, the company’s training platform, with the goal of helping 100,000 Salesforce admins, developers, integration architects and line of business users develop expertise around creating and managing these kinds of integrations.

The company is also putting resources into creating the API Community Manager, a place where people involved in building and managing these integrations can get help from a community of users, all built on Salesforce products and services, says Mark Dao, chief product officer at MuleSoft.

“We’re leveraging Community Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud to create a true developer experience platform. And what’s interesting is that it’s targeting both the business users — in other words, business development teams and marketing teams — as well as external developers,” he said. He added that the fact this is working with business users as well as the integration experts is something new, and the goal is to drive increased usage of APIs using MuleSoft inside Salesforce customer organizations.

Finally, the company announced Flow Designer, a new tool fueled by Einstein AI, which helps automate the creation of workflows and integrations between systems in a more automated fashion without requiring coding skills.

MuleSoft Flow Designer requires no coding (Screenshot: MuleSoft)

Dao says this is about putting MuleSoft in reach of more users. “It’s about enabling use cases for less technical users in the context of the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform. This really requires a new way of thinking around creating integrations, and we’ve been making Flow Designer simpler and simpler, and removing that technical layer from those users,” he said.

API Community Manager is available now. Accelerators will be available by the end of the year and Flow Designer updates will be available Q2 2020, according to the company.

These and other features are all designed to take some of the complexity out of using MuleSoft to help connect various systems across the organization, including both Salesforce and external programs, to make use of data wherever it lives. MuleSoft does requires a fair bit of technical skill, so if the company is able to simplify integration tasks, it could help put it in the hands of more users.