From B2C to B2B: Picsart's Apigee-powered pivot
Product Manager, BAP
With 150 million users and counting, Picsart was originally founded as a photo and video editing app we use to enhance our everyday life before uploading them to various social media platforms. As its user numbers continue growing, the company began exploring options for incorporating its easy-to-use editing tools into other applications and services. Now, businesses looking for a low-lift solution to enhance their product offerings with Picsart’s award-winning software suite can do so. Thanks to Apigee, organizations from assorted markets, such as printers, t-shirt makers, and phone case designers, are benefiting from Picsart’s custom design APIs.
Picsart helps companies reach a new audience of customers by offering them graphic design capabilities at an affordable cost, avoiding the resource and time-intensive process of hiring developers and building these functions from scratch. The benefits of APIs are energizing Picsart’s business partners, too; with the addition of photo editing, keeping customers engaged, and returning to their apps.
“Eighty percent of our users are Generation Z and Millennials,” says Jinny Jung, vice-president of Picsart’s API program. “They're the future of creators all over the globe. They want creative control.”
“Many of the businesses we serve are looking to tap into that audience. They really need solutions like this to take their business to the next level,” Jung adds. Having an API service also takes Picsart to the next level — thanks in part to Apigee.
How to turn a quick pivot
Moving from strictly business-to-consumer (B2C) services to a business-to-business (B2B) offering wasn’t easy for Picsart. The company had to adopt an entirely new business model and develop a new suite of API products — and they did so quickly.
When a prominent social media site contacted Picsart about offering its editing tools to their users via APIs, Picsart knew it couldn’t miss this opportunity. However, none of their developers knew how to manage APIs for external use, an endeavor involving multiple processes and fraught with logistical complications. Failing to configure APIs correctly allows malicious actors to effortlessly bypass cybersecurity protections, exposing network data.
The company quickly assembled an API business unit to plan and coordinate the creation of a secure API development process. This process would support marketing, sales, distribution, and other facets of the business, all while still delivering great functionality to the company’s original B2C customers. And voila! Picsart was reborn.
The API BU works as “a scrappy startup within a larger company,” as Jung puts it. Its budget is scrappy too. Among the unit’s first tasks: finding an API management platform that could simplify and streamline all the tasks the team faced at an affordable price. Jung says that Apigee was a clear choice.
“Apigee’s offerings gave us the flexibility to get off the ground without a huge budget and grow our business over time. It’s super easy to use, the dashboard is very intuitive, and the price came in well for us.”
The company had already used APIs internally, but had never provided them to customers or partners.
“We needed to lean on gateways and management platforms that already knew how to set everything up,” Jung says. “We really needed the shortcut.”
Her team did consider other API platforms, but being part of Google Cloud gave Apigee a natural edge.
“We were already Google Cloud clients. We were already part of the Google Cloud ecosystem. We really liked Apigee’s ease of use and the power of Google behind it.”
Apigee works seamlessly in tandem with its other Google Cloud services, including the Google Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) and BigQuery, Google Cloud’s fully-managed data warehouse.
“Apigee’s integration with the whole Google ecosystem makes our lives easier, and makes it quite natural for us to use,” says Tiberiu Stanescu, director of engineering for the Picsart API business unit. “It allows us to also meet our technical needs, including scalability and even improved performance with queries and, when we're integrating the data, dashboards.”
Using Apigee for total API control
Picsart uses Apigee to manage all its external APIs, which include those that enable users to remove or change photo backgrounds, apply filters, and add text. Apigee also manages the API features for Picsart’s Editor SDK package.
Key ways in which Picsart uses Apigee include:
API management. Apigee runs test/stage and production environments, can customize pre-and post-flows, and automatically authorize for services with different methods including API Keys and oAuth.
Apigee’s pre-built integrated portal has helped Picsart “greatly” in the time the company has been using it, Stanescu says. He praised its flexibility and its rate-limiting function, “which allows us to properly define and secure our products.”
Developer support. With Apigee, Picsart now takes an “API-first” approach to developing new features by using microservice architectures. They’re exposing APIs via their developer portal, which allows them to describe precisely how developers can use each API.
Apigee helps Picsart’s own developers use APIs to simplify the development process and save the company time and money. In conjunction with other Google products, Apigee is providing Picsart with the data and analytics it needs to view and monitor API-related productivity improvements.
Security. Apigee’s out-of-the-box security requires no specialized knowledge or skill to implement. Picsart relies on Apigee security features such as including headers to set up security parameters, and custom rate-limiting policies and quotas, allowing the company to avoid stack overflow from API calls.
As a result, the company has experienced zero API-related security incidents, Stanescu notes. “We’re definitely grateful to Apigee for this,” he adds. Recently, Stanescu says, a company performed penetration testing on Picsart’s APIs, looking for vulnerabilities, but failed to discover any security flaws or threats. Apigee’s easy-to-use, but powerful security features are helping Picsart keep its clients and customers safe and secure.
From scrappy startup to business core
In the three years since implementing Google Apigee, Picsart’s API business unit has gone from a seemingly simple request to a critical product offering enabling new and recurring revenue.
“It’s part of the foundation of our business,” says Jinny Jung. “It powers our entire API external-facing business. We wouldn't be able to sell APIs to developers and partners without the Apigee API gateway. We wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without Apigee.”
Apigee is helping Picsart in another key way, too: its integration with products like BigQuery, Google’s data analytics platform that lets it stay on top of which APIs are most used. That information guides every aspect of the business and helps the company develop and release new generative AI-powered products.
“The data absolutely informs what we choose to develop and where we put our resources,” Jung says. “Apigee makes it super easy for us to track API use and see the trends.”
With Apigee, Picsart is opening up a new world of creative design to audiences across all markets and demographics, while avoiding the stress that comes with a costly development process. Today, generative AI apps continue capturing imaginations, unlocking the ability to create awe-inspiring art with only a few natural language prompts. Picsart and Apigee will continue working together to provide a canvas through APIs no matter where an artist may be.