Digital content and how we consume it continue to endlessly evolve, and with that, so too does the tech that helps manage all of it behind the scenes. In the latest development, Hygraph, a startup out of Berlin that has built a platform around a new, “federated” approach to content management — think: many sources of data, and many endpoints for using it, and using composable architecture, orchestrating all of it from a single platform — is announcing that it has raised $30 million. The startup now has around 400 customers — including major brands like Samsung, Philips and the FMCG conglomerate Dr Oetker — and the plan is to use the funding to continue developing the platform and how and where it can be used, as well as expand into new geographies.
The round is a Series B and it is being led by European investor One Peak, with previous backers OpenOcean and SquareOne, as well as new individual investor Boris Lokschin (cofounder and CEO of Spryker Systems), all also participating. The startup previously raised $13 million and it’s not disclosing its valuation.
A number of startups have identified the opportunity to improve how organizations create and manage their content online, including focused on specific verticals like Shopify, those like Wix that have built frameworks to quickly get sites up and running, and a newer generation of “headless” systems be more flexible with controlling interfaces while also still handling potentially huge amounts of data at the backend. (And there are even some new players emerging, such as Vue Technologies taking an open source approach to improving management of the front end, which I covered last week.) Hygraph represents yet another chapter in that story.
Its positioning goes a little like this: When it comes to engaging with digital content, the landscape has changed dramatically in the last 15 years: not only do we have a plethora of screens from traditional TVs and computers through to phones, watches, and more, but the formats we see on these are constantly fragmenting and evolving. But so, too, are the sources of data that are used to create and manage that digital content.
While there are a number of services already on the market to address aspects of this state of play (see above), there is no single platform out there that de-fragments the experience and brings the back and front sourcing and data management challenges together into one place. This is what Hygraph is aiming to do and it calls its approach “federated content.”
“We are turning headless around,” Michael Lukaszczyk, the CEO and co-founder, said in an interview. “We are not just front-end agnostic but also back-end agnostic. We make it easy to integrate the back-end and front-end into one universal content API.” One of the big benefits for this is that, by building all of this around APIs you can essentially update information and send information out to other systems much more efficiently, essentially in real time, which makes systems overall work better and more cheaply over time. This may be an “overpowered” approach for basic sites these days, he admitted, but it’s essential for large organizations coping with huge amounts of traffic and multiple experiences on multiple platforms, marketplaces, social media sites and more. That could have an e-commerce focus, but equally could apply to media organizations managing video and so on.
The company was originally called GraphCMS — it bases its framework around GraphQL and how it was built around the concept of composable architecture. Last September it also released an API that supercharges where and how Hygraph can be used.
“Despite the rise of the composable enterprise, many organisations are unable to unlock full value from their content,” said David Klein, co-founder and managing partner, and Tatjana Kast, director, One Peak, in a joint statement. “Hygraph solves the customisation and integration challenges that continue to slow the creation of new or complex digital services at scale. We have been hugely impressed with Hygraph’s strong and capital efficient growth trajectory and believe that its federated content platform presents a sizeable market opportunity. One Peak is incredibly excited to back the excellent Hygraph team and its founders in their next phase of explosive growth.”