How $5 billion startup Zapier bought Makerpad, its first-ever acquisition, after a single tweet

Wade Foster Zapier CEO and cofounder

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Zapier, the no-code automation company, has never raised multiple rounds of money from venture capitalists. It raised only a $1.3 million seed round in 2012 from Bessemer, Y Combinator, and DFJ, it says.

So Zapier is proof that a San Francisco-based startup can survive and thrive by creating a profitable company.

Founded ten years ago, even without a hoard of VC cash, Zapier just completed its first ever acquisition of a startup offering similar, no-code services when it bought Makerpad for an undisclosed price. (Makerpad had also only raised a tiny amount, less than $1 million in seed funding, and was valued at about $4 million, estimates deals database Pitchbook.)

The deal between the two stemmed, in an unorthodox way, from a tweet in September, both of the company CEOs told Insider.

That’s when Ben Tossell, founder of education-focused Makerpad, tweeted that of the top tools used by his startup’s members, Zapier was No. 2 on the list behind fellow no-code startup, Airtable.

And this tweet prompted Walter Chen, founder of private markets research firm Sacra, to reply with a tweet of his own that said, “This tracks my intuition that if there’s going to be a central utility of no code, it’ll be either @airtable or @zapier.”

Zapier’s CEO Wade Foster saw that tweet and called Tossell. “Wade reached out after seeing this tweet that essentially said, ‘Zapier should buy Makerpad ASAP’,” Tossell told Insider.

“Wade and I went back and forth and soon realized that our visions for the future of software development were aligned,” Tossell told Insider. Six months later, a deal was done.

Zapier’s Foster confirms that Chen’s tweet inspired his phone call, but he says it was a different tweet, one that Tossell had written in 2019, that put Makerpad on his radar.

“For years we’ve watched in admiration as Ben pushed the limits on what you could build without ever writing a line of code. I’ll never forget when he shared this tutorial on Twitter a few years ago,” he told Insider.

Zapier, which has over 400 employees, has been profitable since 2014, has over $140 million in annual recurring revenue and is valued at $5 billion according to Forbes. Makerpad, founded in 2019, has also seen growth in its userbase which has increased 4x over in the past ten months, Tossell said.

And even though these two companies didn’t drink deeply from the venture well, others are doing so.

“Huge amounts of money are being raised and invested in no-code, new tools are continuously being developed,” Tossell said, “and the community is growing at an exciting rate.”

In fact Tossell himself is an investor. He runs an early-stage rolling fund dedicated to backing other no-code and low-code startups.

As for joining forces with Zapier, both CEOs say they are happy.

“I really feel that the two companies are a perfect fit for one another: Zapier is the glue binding no-code tools together; Makerpad is the education and learning community that brings people together,” said Tossell.

“Zapier will continue to make automation easy and Makerpad will teach you how to do it. Together we’ll work toward ensuring anyone with a problem or an idea, no matter their technical abilities, can solve it themselves,” Foster added.

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