Kong, a Silicon Valley startup, closes a 100 million round and becomes a unicorn

They just closed a $ 100 million round, which triples their Kong’s valuation: $ 1.4 billion. They are Augusto Marietti and Marco Palladino, two Italians in Silicon Valley, who fled from Italy in 2010 with the mad desire to start a startup. They were 20 and had a great idea: a kind of eBay for developers. But no one considered them.

«For 10 months we worked in a basement in Milan to create the beta version of the software. We have knocked on the doors of all investors. The answers? “Well done but you are too young”. Or: “Nice idea but a 30-page business plan is missing”. Meanwhile, the offers did not arrive and when they arrived they were ridiculous »the founders of Kong told us a few years ago.

So, dreaming of California, Augusto and Marco prepare a video and participate in TechCrunch 50 in San Francisco. They discover that Travis Kalanick, philanthropist and then CEO of Uber, is hosting the young people attending the conference for free. As long as they have an idea and have no money. In 7 days, they understand how he turns and decide to move.

“We were nobody. We didn’t know anyone. But we had what others did not have: despair and a bronze face. We worked in a coworking until late. We slept on inflatable mattresses. We went to conferences to eat and always wandered around with packs of business cards. At Entrepreneurship Week in Stanford we retrieved 1,500 e-mail addresses and wrote to everyone. “

There they meet the first three Youtube employees (early employees) who offer them $ 51,000. Another 50,000 come from Massimo Sgrelli, super venture capitalist in California. Among the very first investors there was also Fabrizio Capobianco, a legendary Italian entrepreneur in Silicon Valley (“I wanted to lend a hand to young Italians. I have never done angel investing with the idea of ​​earning money, but to help young people. You see them, you see yourself young again. and you think: “if I had had such an investor” »).
team kong inc

Then for Marco and Augusto the real “collection” began. “The difficult thing is to find the first investor, he is the one who will trust all the others” Palladino told us in our book Silicon Valley. “I dabbed George Zachary of CRV for three years, I sent him dozens of emails, I took him out of exhaustion. He was the first to commit himself ». His fund, along with others including Index Ventures, has invested $ 1.6 million. Then it was the turn of Andreessen Horowitz and many others.

The new round is led by Tiger Global Management with the participation of existing investors and Goldman Sachs. The overall collection amounts to 171 million dollars. Kong will use the capital to scale, expand engineering and customer experience teams and accelerate cloud services with the new Kong Konnect platform.

Today Marco and Augusto are 30 years old and a global company (it is an “API gateway”) that has become a unicorn.

What does Kong do

After having founded Mashape and having carried it on for five years, the two partners have done what in jargon is called pivot. “We saw that users were more interested in the technology behind the marketplace than in the marketplace itself, so we extracted it and made it Kong’s core business.”

What is it about? “Our product is an open core platform that allows the API (Application Programming Interface) to communicate with each other, constituting a kind of” nervous system “for the entire flow of information that is behind a company”. The topic is technical and concerns the world of software. “If before the software were built in a monolithic way, that is in a single piece that had a core base, today we put together many small components that have to work together, the microservices (microservices)”. Kong offers open source platforms and cloud services to manage and secure APIs and microservices.