The Power of the Webhook

Back in the Pardot days, we wanted a way to accept data from a third-party form or application directly into the app, so we came up with the form handler. Basically, it’s the receiving end of a form submission without the front end form fields to go with it. Over time, this practice of sending and receiving data via a specific URLs became popular and is widely know as a webhook.

Wikipedia has a more technical definition:

Webhooks are “user-defined HTTP callbacks”. They are usually triggered by some event, such as pushing code to a repository or a comment being posted to a blog. When that event occurs, the source site makes an HTTP request to the URI configured for the webhook. Users can configure them to cause events on one site to invoke behaviour on another.

Now, webhooks make it easy to share data and trigger features across thousands of SaaS apps, and they don’t have to have formal integrations. The more apps that implement webhooks — both to send and receive data — the more the incumbent apps that aren’t SaaS 2.0 lose their ecosystem integration moat.

Look for webhooks to continue to grow in importance over time.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the power of webhooks?

JavaScript as the Web’s Integration Fabric

Ten years ago, I never would have predicted how JavaScript (code to make things more dynamic in a web browser) hosted on third-party sites would become the core integration method for the front-end of the web (see The Three Types of SaaS Integration). In hindsight, it makes sense that interactive elements and analytics would be decoupled from much of the content so that companies can deliver best-of-breed solutions for a variety of functions. Now, tag managers like Segment and Google Tag Manager have taken it one step further and decoupled the loading of JavaScript on a per-page basis to a system that uses JavaScript to load other JavaScript (very meta).

Many popular webpage features are loaded via JavaScript that comes from a third-party, including:

  • Web analytics
  • Forms
  • Live chat
  • Comments
  • Pop-up prompts that ask for an email address
  • Site search
  • Dynamic content

Going forward, look for this trend to continue and more functions on the web to be delivered via third-party JavaScript. More sites will deliver real-time personalization and richer, higher quality experiences in a seamless manner via third-party products. JavaScript is the web’s integration fabric, and growing in importance.

What else? What are some more thoughts on JavaScript as the web’s integration fabric?

Atlanta Startup Village #48

Join us tonight at 7pm for Atlanta Startup Village #48. The event is free and everyone is welcome. Here are tonight’s startups:

  • Atlas Bay: Bring your spaces to life with virtual reality for real estate
  • Shofur: Bus reservations made easy!
  • GATE: Interception-proof authentication and encryption system
  • ReThinkingStartups: Startup whatever! The Whatever Network
  • accessnow: Improves productivity by governing your automated, on-demand elevated access with audit logging

June Atlanta Startup Village (#ATLSV #48)

Monday, Jun 26, 2017, 7:00 PM

Atlanta Tech Village
3423 Piedmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305 Atlanta, GA

546 Entrepreneurs Attending

Doors open (and beer flows) at 7:00 p.m., presentations start at 7:30 p.m. sharp.Follow the conversation on Twitter (https://twitter.com/atlsv) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/atlstartupvillage/) with #ATLSV #48!Livestream will be available at: http://atlantatechvillage.com/events/live-event/June Presenters:• Atlas Bay: Bring your spa…

Check out this Meetup →

See you tonight at ASV #48!

Video of the Week: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on Artificial Intelligence(AI), Cashless Store, and Self-Driving Cars

For our video of the week watch Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on Artificial Intelligence(AI), Cashless Store, and Self-Driving Cars. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talks about the “gigantic” potential of artificial intelligence to change everything from shopping to self-driving cars. Bezos also discusses his purchase of the Washington Post in 2013, which he says is transforming from a local to a global institution. He explains why he opposes both Peter Thiel’s campaign against Gawker Media and Donald Trump’s attempts to “freeze or chill” press scrutiny. Plus: Why Bezos’s other company, Blue Origin, is trying to lower the cost of entrepreneurship in space.

API-First SaaS 2.0 Single Page Apps

Two of the core components of SaaS 2.0 products are actually related: API-first platform and rich, responsive user interfaces. Ever since Gmail made the first mainstream Javascript-heavy web experience that feels more like a desktop app, developers have been building open source platforms to make that type of “Single Page App” easier and faster to build. Single Page Apps reload only the portions of the screen that have changed, instead of the traditional way which refreshed the whole screen. And, these Single Page Apps work best against REST APIs, the same APIs that make a product API-first.

Now, there are powerful Javascript libraries like Angular (MVC framework backed by Google) and React (view framework backed by Facebook) that are popular with strong developer communities and a long list of additional open source projects that plug in nicely. By having quality, proven open source platforms, more apps are going to adopt them thereby applying more pressure to the legacy incumbents. The incumbents are going to have an incredibly hard time modernizing. Just like many software companies couldn’t make the transition from on-premise to the cloud, many SaaS companies aren’t going to be able to make the transition from SaaS 1.0 to SaaS 2.0, and it’ll be most apparent in the user experience.

Look for Single Page Apps to be a defining characteristic of API-first SaaS 2.0 companies.

What else? What are some more thoughts on API-first SaaS 2.0 Single Page Apps?

The Three Types of SaaS Integrations

Continuing with last week’s post titled Integrations as Key for Next Generation SaaS Success, there’s a critical point that was missed in that not all product integrations are created equal — not even close. For SaaS 2.0 startups, catching up to the depth and variety of integrations of the incumbents is one of the major challenges. When thinking through integrations, it’s important to understand the three major types:

  • Native Integrations – Integrations that are developed in-house to send/receive data as well as call remote functions and expose additional internal functionality are native integrations. Native integrations are the most valuable as the quality is typically higher and the SaaS company is committed to maintain them.
  • JavaScript Overlay Integrations – Integrations that are done via a Google Chrome Extension or JavaScript to override the user interface of a third-party app are UI overlay integrations. A common example is the industry of Chrome Extensions that add functionality to Gmail through the user interface and not the API.
  • Middleware Integrations – Integrations that are written and maintained by a third-party integration platform to connect two disparate apps are middleware integrations (e.g. MuleSoft or Zapier). Middleware integrations can be more expensive and/or slower depending on the APIs of the products being connected.

When thinking through the integration landscape, it’s important to understand that there are a variety of integration types and they aren’t equal.

What else? What are some more types of integrations with SaaS products?

SaaS 2.0 Companies Often Resegment an Existing Market

Continuing with yesterday’s post Examples of SaaS 2.0 Companies, there’s an important point that requires more explanation: SaaS 2.0 companies often resegment an existing market. Meaning, they go into a market that has plenty of credible incumbents (like Calendly with scheduling software) and offer a novel approach to a known opportunity (better user experience, better product modularity, better pricing flexibility, better integrations, better APIs, etc.).

Critically, this is best executed in existing markets. If it’s a new, unproven market, SaaS 2.0 often doesn’t work because new markets need armies of sales people to get the new type of product in front of a buyer that’s never used it before. One of the key benefits of sales people is that they help orchestrate the sale and initiate the change management in the customer’s organization. Change management is hard and sales people help create the urgency to make it happen.

SaaS 2.0 products, typically being self-service, are best resegmenting an existing market where the value is known and the incumbents deliver an outdated customer experience.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea that SaaS 2.0 companies often resegment an existing market?