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Three Aha! moments that defined developer marketplaces in 2019 and are shaping 2020

Manifold’s mission is to enhance developer experiences by providing choice and freedom of cloud, while unlocking the power of marketplace economics.

2019 was the year we learned that our single-destination developer services marketplace solved a lot of problems for developers but there was an opportunity to do more by offering our marketplace experiences in the communities and platforms where developers were building and managing applications. In Q2, we repackaged our marketplace technology to be embedded into developer-facing platforms and communities. We started with enabling add-ons, focusing on distribution first, by launching the Marketplace-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform. MaaS enables cloud platforms to offer a complete set of modern, complementary SaaS APIs and infrastructure to their users. Along the way we had a few aha! moments.

Aha! moment #1

Inflexible pricing, billing and distribution mechanisms can impede growth for SaaS companies.

For companies, profit is the end goal, and growth gets you there. Finding the right pricing and packaging mix is tricky, and evolving pricing models can be cumbersome and slow. SaaS moves fast — to make the most of opportunities, your billing, provisioning and distribution system should be flexible.

In 2019, we saw time and again that in practice, billing stacks are not as flexible as they need to be to support growth. Pricing and packaging should not be too fragile to change as your business grows. In our conversations with customers, we’ve found there is still far too much friction when figuring out pricing and distribution during high growth. 

Aha! moment #2

Marketplaces enable higher levels of abstraction for developers, beyond Infrastructure-as-Code.

Developers want choice without the tedious integration work, just as they want to avoid the tedious work of hosting their infrastructure. Service providers grow their businesses by removing the complexities of integration and infrastructure work for developers, but work very hard to stand out in the crowd, often competing against much larger single-cloud offerings, to reach the developers who will love their service. 

A marketplace is where developers connect with service providers. With  pre-integrated infrastructure and services, the tedious and boring work is abstracted away so everyone can concentrate on their core value — service providers providing services, and developers consuming those services to solve problems and build new things.

Aha! moment #3

A Marketplace is a day 0 feature.

Some companies think of a marketplace as a way to retain users and deepen engagement once they’ve achieved a certain level of growth. But having a marketplace from the day you launch can help you double down on the features you want to be competitive on and free you to add complementary capabilities as soon as your customers want them. A marketplace keeps you nimble and customer focused. The same way choosing a development framework makes building your app faster, a marketplace makes building your company faster. Companies like Render.com have used Manifold to enable this type of product focus.  

In 2020 we’re excited to incorporate these Aha! moments from 2019 into new capabilities for marketplace owners and customers. We expect these capabilities to provide a leap forward in what’s possible for developer services and the user experiences they deliver. First, we’ll continue to deepen our MaaS offering by adding marketplace management tools. We’ll also deliver features that help make software companies be more nimble in adapting pricing and packaging to grow their businesses.

We’ve got a lot to do in 2020 and beyond; we’re just getting started. We’d love to hear what you think. Stay tuned for more insights and new features coming soon.

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