Zapier Co-Founder Mike Knoop on category creation, API evolution & AI architecture | E1769 | Summary and Q&A

June 27, 2023
This Week in Startups
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Zapier Co-Founder Mike Knoop on category creation, API evolution & AI architecture | E1769


Zapier, an automation tool, is leveraging AI and language models to empower users to automate various tasks, making workflows more efficient and productive.

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Key Insights

  • 😒 The automation market is witnessing rapid growth, and tools like Zapier that provide easy-to-use solutions are driving this expansion.
  • ✋ AI and language models offer significant potential for automating various tasks, enabling users to focus on higher-value activities.
  • 👤 Adoption of AI-driven automation requires user education and experimentation to identify the most suitable and effective use cases.
  • 🈺 Zapier's open API allows for more integrations, expanding the possibilities and potential of automation for a broader range of users and businesses.


it's really not that many great local Italian places oh there is a good pizza joint uh called Centro Pizza on Broadway okay you know Broadway and Burlingame there's like the street and there's the great Street yep Broadway has a place called Centro Pizza and they make brick oven pizza and it's amazing it's the best Pizza Independence I found um Cen... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Zapier start, and when did it realize its potential for success?

Zapier was founded by three individuals who realized the need for a platform that could enable non-technical users to leverage APIs and integrations. Over time, as they witnessed the excitement and appreciation from users, they realized that Zapier had the potential to become a significant player in the market.

Q: How does Zapier use AI and language models to enhance its automation capabilities?

Zapier has recently introduced a plugin for OpenAI's ChatGPT, allowing users to interact with the language model to automate tasks. Users can create workflows that leverage the power of AI to draft email replies, summarize messages, and more.

Q: What is the significance of Zapier's API in expanding its capabilities?

Zapier recently launched a public API, providing other vendors and developers the opportunity to integrate Zapier's capabilities into their own products. This allows for more seamless access to automation and workflow solutions for a wider range of applications.

Q: How is Zapier addressing the challenge of AI adoption and making it easier for users?

Zapier is actively working on improving the user experience and making AI-driven automation more accessible. They are exploring ways to simplify the setup and authorization process, as well as refining their integration capabilities.


This video features an interview with the co-founder and president of Zapier, a tool that helps automate tasks and integrations between different software applications. The guest shares insights on the company's journey, the power of automation, and the potential of AI. The video also showcases some examples of how Zapier's integrations can be used to streamline workflows and increase efficiency.

Questions & Answers

Q: When did Zapier start and at what point did you realize you were onto something big?

Zapier was founded in a college town in 2011 by the co-founders who had experience with APIs. They started to notice a gap in the market where people wanted to use APIs but lacked the technical skills to do so. As they explored online, they discovered that most resources available were developer-focused. This led them to create Zapier as a platform to make APIs more accessible to a wider audience. They realized they were onto something big around 2014 when they started to receive recognition from users and customers, and the business became profitable.

Q: How does Zapier make money and what is its user base like?

Zapier makes money by selling software directly to users through subscription plans. They have starting price plans and additional features for teams and organizations. They have gained several hundred thousand paying customers and over 10 million users who have tried Zapier. Their business has grown to generate over $150 million in revenue and is valued at $5 billion.

Q: How did Zapier approach equity and secondary investments?

Zapier has raised very little venture capital, only $1 million back in 2012. They have focused on running the business through cash generated from customers. They decided to offer equity to all employees a few years ago and went through a process to determine the share price and set up a secondary market for employees to buy and sell shares. They also have a bonus program and profit-sharing for employees.

Q: How have social media platforms approached API usage and monetization?

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and LinkedIn have approached API usage and monetization differently. Some platforms have deprecated or limited API access due to concerns like disintermediation or abuse of data. Others have started charging for API usage. Zapier has found that allowing users to bring their own API keys and charge for the use of integrations is a smart approach, giving more control to users and offering more value to them.

Q: How are AI and automation changing workflows and business efficiency?

AI and automation, including tools like Zapier, are transforming workflows and businesses. The goal is to have software that works while you sleep, automating repetitive tasks and increasing efficiency. However, the adoption of such technologies is still limited, and there is room for improvement in user experience and safety measures. AI and automation have the potential to make businesses more efficient, but it will take time for the penetration rate to increase and for users to fully embrace the technology.

Q: Can you provide examples of how Zapier's integrations can be used to streamline workflows?

Zapier offers a plugin called ChatGPT, which allows users to interact with AI models directly within the ChatGPT interface. One example is using the plugin to check emails, draft replies, and summarize their contents. Another example is using ChatGPT to generate drafts, review and edit them, and then send them through an email client like Gmail. The goal is to make the integration seamless and user-friendly, allowing users to preview and control the actions before finalizing them.


Zapier has experienced significant growth by making APIs more accessible to a wider audience and providing automation tools to streamline workflows. Through its subscription-based model, Zapier has gained a large user base and generated substantial revenue. The use of AI and automation is revolutionizing how businesses operate, but there is still room for improvement in terms of user adoption, safety measures, and refining the integration experience. Overall, the potential for increased efficiency and productivity is significant, and businesses should consider leveraging these technologies to optimize their workflows.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Zapier is an automation platform that allows users to connect different apps and automate tasks, improving productivity and efficiency.

  • The company started with the goal of democratizing access to APIs and integrations, making it easier for non-technical users to connect different software tools.

  • Zapier has seen significant growth, reaching millions of users and generating over $150 million in revenue, while also witnessing the positive impact of AI and language models in automating workflows.

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