Don’t hate on low-code and no-code

As far as I can tell, low-code and no-code services are rapidly proving that prior models for products as broad as enterprise app creation and AI-powered data analytics were lackluster. My evidence? A mix of public- and private-market low- and no-code companies are putting up impressive results.

The Exchange caught up with Appian CEO Matt Calkins after his enterprise app software company reported its first-quarter performance to discuss the low-code market and what he’s hearing in customer meetings. To round out our general thesis — and shore up our somewhat bratty headline — we’ve compiled a list of recent low-code and no-code venture capital rounds, of which there are many.

As we’ll show, the pace at which venture capitalists are putting funds into companies that fall into our two categories is pretty damn rapid, which implies that they are doing well as a cohort. We can infer as much because it has become clear in recent quarters that while today’s private capital market is stupendous for some startups, it’s harder than you’d think for others.


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The dividing factor? Signs of impressive present-day traction: Startups that are growing very fast have nearly unlimited access to capital, while those that are growing at merely fast rates are often finding it difficult to find a dance partner.

So if we can show that a huge, diverse set of no-code and low-code startups are raising oodles of capital, we can infer something relatively sturdy about market demand for their products. (It also doesn’t hurt that no-code automation service Zapier is growing like a weed and has reached IPO scale. And, in other news, Appian just dropped a new version of its low-code automation platform, for whatever that is worth.)

First Appian’s CEO, then a venture capital roundup. This should be fun.

Public performance

Briefly, Appian reported $88.9 million in Q1 2021 revenue, of which $39.1 million came from its cloud subscription business. The latter figure rose 38% in the quarter compared to the year-ago period. Appian also swung to adjusted EBITDA profit in the period. Investors responded by hammering the company’s stock in the wake of the results. From an April share-price range in the mid-$130s, Appian is now trading in the mid $80s, though only some of those declines came post-earnings.

But the company’s stock price is only so important. Precisely how conservative any one public company’s guidance is for the current year and how those forecasts play with investor expectations during a period of generally excessive valuations is not our game. What does matter is what the company’s CEO had to say about the low-code space itself.

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