Where we are coming from
To understand where we are going with content infrastructure, we need to reflect on where we came from. We started out in 2011 to power content in mobile apps and modern web apps, because we experienced how most CMSes sucked for these use cases. All of the opinionated choices that make them great for managing posts and pages—like the tight coupling of front-end and the business logic, as well as their all-in-one approach—makes them poor for anything that goes beyond that. Instead, we thought that the future would lie in an API-first way to manage structured content, and set forth to build what later became known as headless content management.
What we have seen since
While we saw a lot of uptake on this initial premise, we were fortunate to also see rapid adoption by some of the most innovative companies in the world. What we found is that digital teams at these companies were using Contentful in conjunction with many other platforms to re-architect their software development processes. And the term headless, with its focus on who owns (or doesn’t own) the presentation layer, fundamentally missed the point on the big shift in the market—selling short the underlying structured content model, programmatic interoperability, and bringing developers and content creators back together again. In other words, this type of technology isn’t about a better CMS, but rather a different way of building modern digital products.
In essence, the way cross-functional teams ship digital products is changing. During the industrial revolution, there were massive productivity gains in manufacturing through the introduction of factories filled with special-purpose machinery. Today, we see the same trend during the digital revolution: digital teams are building flexible software development platforms that enable them to ship multiple digital products, faster—a digital factory if you will. These teams can reuse their core architecture to power new products or to replace old ones, across their entire digital footprint.
The core tenet of this digital factory is the ability to rely on modular, standardized, and purpose-built infrastructure components that support modern development workflows, including development environments, continuous integration, continuous delivery, CLI tooling, and more. And while there are a lot of pieces of these infrastructures in place—e.g., authentication (Auth0), payments (Stripe), search (Algolia), messaging (Twilio), email (SendGrid)—the missing piece of the puzzle has been content.
Where we are going
Contentful is providing this missing content infrastructure. An infrastructure to enable collaboration, so developers and editors can work together as opposed to working in silos. An infrastructure that is interoperable, so digital teams can use their favorite tools and preferred technology. An infrastructure that is composable, so you can select just the components to get started or the ones you need to grow to enterprise scale. An infrastructure relying on structured content repositories, enabling large-scale content management.
Who is joining us
Looking towards the future, we are incredibly excited to be teaming up with General Catalyst, a firm focused on user-centric products that have a track record of becoming unquestionably useful in enterprises. They saw that we are the best in the space, and while we had many investors to choose from, we believe that our partnership with General Catalyst will foster the type of expansion we’re counting on. We’re also welcoming Trevor Oelschig, managing director at General Catalyst, to our board. Previously, Trevor and General Catalyst have led investments in companies like Shopify and Stripe—and I have no doubt their insights will be crucial to shaping the future of Contentful.
With all of these new funds, we’re planning to grow our partner network and continue building out our developer ecosystem to spread the content infrastructure word to those who could benefit. To accomplish this, we will continue to invest in talent, operating out of our offices in Berlin, Germany and San Francisco.
And of course, none of this would be possible without our wonderful team. We’ve grown a lot over the past year, expanding to a new headquarters in San Francisco and reaching the 140 employee mark. It has been a privilege to work with this crew and if you’d like to join the fun, take a look at our current openings.