Apollo, a San Francisco-based startup maintaining a family of GraphQL development tools, this morning revealed that it’s secured $22 million in growth funding co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and Matrix Partners, with participation from existing investors Trinity Ventures and Webb Investment Network. This latest round of financing builds on earlier rounds totaling $31.2 million, and brings Apollo’s total raised to over $50 million as the company’s data graph platform eclipses 30 million downloads just three years after its debut.
Cofounder and CEO Geoff Schmidt said that the cash infusion will fuel investments in Apollo’s open source and commercial offerings. Currently, paying customers include big-name companies like Airbnb, GitHub, The New York Times, OpenTable, CNBC, Expedia, Airbnb, Audi, SurveyMonkey, and Ticketmaster.
“We need to do more to support and empower app developers,” added Schmidt, a former Asana engineer who cofounded Apollo with fellow MIT alums CTO Matt DeBergalis and Nick Martin in 2011. “Today, technologies like REST force app developers to spend as much as half of their time not building nice things for users, but writing data-fetching glue code. That’s why it’s gratifying to see companies like Airbnb and Expedia creating company-wide GraphQL-based data graphs using Apollo technology. Our goal is for every company in the world to run on a data graph so that app developers can spend their time building great things for the rest of us.”
GraphQL — which was developed internally by Facebook in 2012 before being publicly released in 2015 — is an open source data query and manipulation language for APIs, and a runtime for fulfilling queries with existing data. It lets clients specify which data they need across multiple services, makes it easier to aggregate data from multiple sources, and it uses a type system to describe data. As opposed to API technologies like SOAP and REST, which require several data-gathering requests to fetch information, a single call is often sufficient with GraphQL.
Apollo’s suite adds tool sets and cloud services to implement workflows that ease developers into GraphQL without forcing them to familiarize themselves with new codebases. They let dev teams compose separate services into a single, unified schema without single points of failure or development chokepoints, and capture field-level metadata against GraphQL APIs with safelists of known queries that validate updates against production traffic.
Apollo’s central schema registry propagates details about which parties accessed data when, facilitating collaboration among code contributors while affording admins fine-grained control over access. The company’s Visual Studio plugin brings things like API documentation, costs and performance statistics, interactive linting and validation tools, and deprecation warnings editor-side, and its trace warehouse stores a query execution plan and performance data for each graph operation.
Furthermore, Apollo’s platform provides an accounting of changes as they affect schema and client tools that let users define a single GraphQL API declaratively from separate modules. In production, an execution gateway validates the complete schema, computes a query plan for each incoming operation, and federates the operation’s execution across services.
“We’re proud to partner with Apollo as they build a unified platform that makes it easy for app developers to get the right data from a myriad of cloud services into the apps and devices that power today’s leading businesses,” said Peter Levine, general partner at a16z, who plans to join Apollo’s board of directors. “We see this is an enormous opportunity since every data graph to help them build world-class digital experiences for their customers.”