Spire.io: A New Platform For Serverless Apps That Work On Web & Mobile

What do you do when you’re a consumer apps company with apps that never hit the big-time, but whose development forced you to solve the same problems over and over again? Well, if you’re Border Stylo (makers of Glass, Retrollect, and Trivia Together), you turn your knowledge of developers’ needs for backend infrastructure into your new business.

And that’s exactly what Border Stylo is doing with its new company called Spire.io, which has been working on the idea of “serverless” apps. The company launched its first realtime messaging API in beta this January, and is today rolling out its second addition, an identity service for web and mobile.

Founded in 2008, Border Stylo had taken in around $7 million in funding, which is now helping the team pivot spinoff into Spire.io. The same investors are in the new company, too: Eric Bergasa of Tagua Capital and Francisco Ortiz Von Bismarck. Over the years, Border Stylo had built up its engineering team, and had created an infrastructure to help build their apps.

“We were getting good at the engineering side, but were having trouble really nailing it in terms of the actual product design,” explains Spire.io CTO Dan Yoder. “One of the things we began to realize is that we were building the same things over and over again, or we would build things so that we wouldn’t have to build them over and over again. And when we were done, we looked at it and said, ‘hey, this might make sense as a product all by itself’ – so other startups don’t always have to build out messaging, and login, and so on,” he says. And then, the realization: “let’s build the picks and shovels, instead of panning for gold.”

So what does Spire.io actually do? It’s a backend service provider, but its emphasis is on so-called “serverless” apps.

“We see the world creating truly server-less applications, where developers do not need to worry about building/maintaining/updating backends,” explains Spire.io CEO Diego Prats. “Most competitors are doing point solutions (they may do real-time messaging for apps) or they may be device-centric (backends for mobile), but to truly create a serverless world, our infrastructure must support web and mobile,” he says. “Consumers want products to work on their iPad and desktop, they don’t care about different backends. We want to help companies be closer to their consumer and eliminate some of the engineering complexity. We want apps to worry about what matters (consumer experience) and let us worry about the rest.”

The company initially launched its real-time notification service for apps in the beginning of the year, which would enable apps like chat, collaborative editing, or multi-player gaming, for example. Today, the company is launching a new identity service. With this addition, developers can now add login and registration to their apps, whether web or mobile.

“The problem before with doing this on the web is that you would have to put an API key in your JavaScript, which could be easily downloaded,” Yoder explains. “By integrating the identity component where you have to register or login first, it limits the amount of damage somebody can do – they could be registering users for you if they really wanted to, but they can’t use your API key to build their app,” says Yoder. However, while that wasn’t as much of a problem on mobile, the interesting thing about Spire.io is that it works on either web or mobile.

Going forward, Spire.io plans to release a different service every few months. Data storage and asset management are on the near-term roadmap, for example. They’re also working on a processing model for serving data from far away – it will help to move processing to the edge, similar to how CDNs work.

There are now 12 fulltime people at Spire.io, mostly engineers, and all who have worked together for two years. Most of the team is in Los Angeles, but Prats works mostly out of San Francisco in RocketSpace. Dan Yoder works from Coloft in Santa Monica and the L.A. office. There’s also one developer in Austin and another in Spain.

Spire.io is a freemium service, pricing info is here. To get started, go here.