Today we're excited to announce that Standard Library (standardlibrary.com) is now Autocode. Autocode is a web editor with API autocomplete, a runtime for apps, and a hosting platform that treats the API as the foundational primitive of web development. In addition to our rebranding, we'd like to announce that Nat Friedman (CEO GitHub), Lew Cirne (CEO New Relic), Howie Liu (CEO Airtable) and Tobi Lütke (CEO Shopify) have joined our cap table as investors. We've also moved to a new Twitter account, @AutocodeHQ.
Autocode automatically generates Node.js web endpoints to instantly deliver Webhooks, Scripts and APIs. To put it simply, Autocode makes you more productive with code and is especially valuable for simple data synchronization, retrieval and transformation between different APIs. It is best used when AWS is overkill but you need a little more flexibility and access to code than tools like Zapier provide.
Our earliest adopters include; major institutions like the City of Boston, emerging brands like Common Wealth Poultry and fast-growing startups like Dandy. You can read more details below.
This rebrand represents a more straightforward encapsulation of the products we've built over the years within a single identity. The technology that powers Standard Library on
*.api.standardlibrary.com is now the Autocode Standard Library that anybody can publish APIs and connectors to. It's been a long journey to get here and it deserves some reflection, so before talking more about Autocode — hint, we're super jazzed — it's worth going over a bit of our history.
A brief history of Standard Library
A significant portion of our early adopters are founders, engineering managers and CTOs themselves. Building and managing companies can be tough and getting to Autocode has not been a straightforward path. I share this with the hope that our customers, developers and other aspiring entrepreneurs can unpack value from it. Keep in mind that our story is far from over and we'd love your help writing what's next.
A little over four years ago, in February 2016, I walked away from a promising role at a biotech company run by early SpaceX employees. My father, a Jack of all trades electrician, teacher, engineer and son of a Newfoundlander sea-merchant-turned-millwright, in a state of worry, called me displeased; "no Horwood has ever turned down a paycheck." I had been the first person in my family to attend — and then subsequently drop out of — grad school, I had just finished paying off my student debt, and while I have very few complaints about my childhood in Canada, my family has never been wealthy. He was concerned about my penchant for deviating from the beaten path.
class syntax and developers were excited. I had finally hit on an important problem I wanted to solve — building and connecting APIs was too damn difficult. There was so much overhead involved across development, documentation, hosting, authentication and more. I was determined to build something great.
The next few months were a blur; my close friend Jules Walter, a product manager I worked with at my first job in San Francisco, agreed to advise me. He brought me to a hackathon in Oakland where I met my co-founder, Jacob Lee. Jacob would choose to leave Google to join me a few months later. Nodal's open source traction and a compounding of luck led me to apply and get accepted into AngelPad, the accelerator behind the recently-exited Postmates. This set us up with our first $50,000 in financing just in the nick of time — I had spent all my savings and was weeks away from maxing out my credit card.
Welcome to standardlibrary.com
In August 2016 a flash of inspiration triggered a reimagining of the company. I asked a simple question: why doesn't the World Wide Web have a
standardlibrary of APIs? Would it be possible to deliver it, and could it be a critical piece of infrastructure that accelerates the state of software development? Our experience from AngelPad had been just enough to get us a meeting scheduled with a General Partner (GP) at a major investment firm a few days beforehand. I drove to Sand Hill Road in a beaten up 2007 Prius with duct tape on its bumper. They thought I'd be pitching the "Polybit" platform (the official name of the company) and instead, emboldened by this new direction, I came in and threw
standardlibrary.com at them — the domain had been on sale for $2,500 — 5% of the company's total funding at that time. Standard Library was born.
The initial product vision for Standard Library was ambitious. I argued that every code editor on the planet should have Autocomplete for APIs; developers shouldn't have to google documentation anymore. To achieve this vision we'd need to build a machine-readable API registry and a community around it. The General Partner seemed impressed with the overall idea but shot back, "in order to build this it will take years, cost millions of dollars, and require support from some of the top companies in the industry." Though he agreed with the overall vision, he was skeptical. He asked if there was a better go-to-market strategy.
The firm declined to invest at that time. I think it's important to share this with aspiring founders: I'd go on to be rejected by well over 100 different investors. I've heard stories of superstar fundraisers lining up 20 meetings in a week and having a term sheet within 72 hours. That wasn't the experience we had; our investor list only mentions the top names, the reality is that I kept the lights on by maintaining an unfortunate amount of personal credit card debt and stringing together small checks from dozens of Angel Investors across the US and Canada. I am extremely grateful for Jacob's patience and thankful to all of those who took an early chance on us.
Ultimately, that General Partner's assertions were correct — this would take time and cost money to do properly. We spent from August 2016 onwards working on Standard Library. Where there's a will there's a way — we were very fortunate to raise financing from BlueYard Capital where the initial author of RubyGems, Chad Fowler, was a venture partner and impressed with our work. Slack would join us as a corporate investor via the Slack Fund, and later that year we were introduced to both Will Gaybrick and Patrick Collison from Stripe who made a significant investment. We would like to thank them publicly for being major proponents of our mission and creating a lot of opportunities for the company.
Making API and webhook development easier
As we iterated on a deeply ambitious technical vision we found we were missing a key ingredient of a successful company — customers. We had fallen into the age-old magical thinking trap of, "if we build it, they will come." So we started asking some of our earliest users what problems do you have around API development that we can help with?
Interestingly, our most engaged early adopters all had the same problem statements;
- "I want to move data between two sources — like Shopify to Airtable."
- "I want custom alerting, like a bespoke Slack bot that alerts our dev team about GitHub PRs."
- "I want to build a simple cron / webhook / webpage / script / API and don't know where else to put it."
Additionally, we found;
- AWS is overkill for most of these use cases. While enthusiastic engineers are happy to configure a new framework, most discerning engineering leaders — CTOs, engineering managers, founders — prefer quick and easy solutions with low maintenance overhead, where available.
- Zapier is often too limiting. It's a fantastic tool but it's not a complete software development toolkit.
The product feedback we got all pointed towards the same thing: developers wanted a full-stack, everything-included toolkit for delivering webhooks, scripts and APIs. But it needed to be dead simple, with code generation and autocomplete. To discover this we had to go through a number of product launches between 2017 and today. They say entrepreneurship is never a straight line, it's a search for a viable business over a tumultuous and unforgiving landscape, and that has been our experience. We've worked on everything from formal specifications for serverless APIs to custom in-browser coding experiences to hosting platforms to drag-and-drop workflow generation.
In the end we found that our initial vision of Autocomplete for APIs was what we needed to deliver and it took years, cost a considerable amount of money, and required us getting support of some of the top companies in the industry to execute on. All of our efforts have now culminated in Autocode and we're excited to share it with you.
We delivered the first prototype of Autocode in December 2019. We quickly got it production-ready and first launched it on February 12th, 2020. Since then, with a number of onboarding and usability tweaks — over 90% of new users become active — the product usage has grown consistently and we now have more MAU building in Autocode than we've experienced with any of our previous products. This is already a huge win for the team but a drop in the bucket as compared to what we'd like to accomplish — there's a long way to go.
As a summary;
- Autocode allows you to build and host Webhooks, Scripts and APIs instantly
- Autocode provides an in-browser code editor with API autocompletion and code generation
- Autocode is best used when AWS is overkill but you still want code — Zapier not powerful enough
- Autocode has a Standard Library that companies and individuals can publish APIs to
Since we first started talking about Autocode many folks suggested we change our name. Standard Library (standardlibrary.com) is a technical term whereas Autocode is descriptive, concise and clean. The term Autocode does have historical significance but has been out of common parlance for decades. Before making the switch we wanted to make sure Autocode was the best damn piece of software we had ever built — there are still so many ways for it to be improved, but waiting any longer would be needlessly delaying feedback.
Launch: Investors, Customers and Roadmap
Today, on July 7th, 2020, we have officially taken the leap. Standard Library is now Autocode. As mentioned, we're very grateful to also announce that Nat Friedman, Lew Cirne 🇨🇦, Howie Liu and Tobi Lütke 🇨🇦 have joined our cap table — their combined support and mentorship has enabled us to bring the best possible version of Autocode to market.
To recap in a little more detail, our earliest adopters include;
- Major Institutions like the City of Boston who use Autocode to run custom Slack alerting for GitHub
- Emerging Brands like Common Wealth Poultry who went direct-to-consumer during COVID-19 with Shopify and Airtable in days atop of Autocode
- Fast-Growing Startups like Dandy who are using Autocode to sync customer data between apps like Kustomer and Aircall
- Not all of these API connectors are on our Standard Library — the beauty of Autocode is even if we don't offer a first-class integration, you can build your own connectors and directly use packages from the NPM registry
We've also launched our team paid plans into Developer Preview. Over the summer, we'll be continuing to refine the in-browser development experience, adding more connectors in partnership with companies, and focusing on content that can get you started with Autocode. Throughout the rest of the year you will continue to see major improvements in how Autocode helps you deliver Webhooks, Script and APIs — but we'll keep some of the more exciting features under wraps until we launch them. 🤫
Thanks for participating in this journey with us and taking the time to read about our history. You can start using Autocode for free today. If you are interested, you can apply to our Organization Tier Developer Preview. We'll be sending out swag and more to early adopters, just drop us a line using the previous link. You can also request an API if you don't see what you want on the Autocode Standard Library. Finally, if you work at a company with an API you're looking to make easier to use, we'd love for you to reach out to us about partnering.
🔥 Happy hacking, friends. And, ooh — we're hiring! 🙌
Founder and CEO, Autocode