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Launch HN: Cosmic JS (YC W19) - API-first drop-in replacement for WordPress
100 points by tonyspiro 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments
Hey HN,

I'm Tony, one of the cofounders of Cosmic JS (YC W19) (https://cosmicjs.com). Cosmic JS is a drop-in replacement for WordPress that can power content for any website or app. We provide a web dashboard to create content and API tools and resources (REST and GraphQL) to integrate content into any new or existing project. Commonly referred to as a "Headless CMS", this eliminates the need to build and maintain your own CMS infrastructure. For a monthly fee, you use our CMS infrastructure and can focus on what really matters: building great products and user experiences.

My cofounder Carson and I met at a digital agency where we built and managed WordPress websites. We noticed that lots of development time was spent building and maintaining the CMS itself, sucking time away from core application development. Plus we encountered the same CMS problems over and over: automatic updates caused sites to crash, a client would decide to install a bunch of plugins that caused the site to crash, comment spam was a never-ending battle. We began looking for a better way to manage content.

This was 2014 and API services were becoming more popular (Stripe, Twilio, SendGrid etc were gaining traction in offloading non-core dev tasks), and it made sense that using an API could be a viable way to deal with content as well. So Cosmic JS was created to be the solution that we wanted to use: one click to add a new project, unlimited projects with a single login, a simple web dashboard to create content, and API tools and resources to integrate content into any new or existing website or app. No CMS infrastructure needed.

After much beta testing, we eventually released to the public in 2016. We're now powering production websites and apps for hundreds of teams around the world across various use-cases.

We know the market for a solution to this problem is big because WordPress, as of this posting, powers 30% of the web. That’s 75,000,000 websites (source: https://www.whoishostingthis.com/compare/wordpress/stats/). Plus the need for dynamic content extends beyond websites. Mobile, IOT and other emerging tech are increasingly requiring dynamic, easily integrated content.

This is a hard problem to solve because a CMS has to satisfy the needs of both developers and content creators. We're different than other headless CMS providers because lots of effort has been made to make the CMS admin dashboard and content integration process as easy as possible for both the developer and content creator. We’ve been told “it doesn’t get much simpler”. We’re also very committed to education and community. We're the only headless CMS that comes with a community of developers built-in providing hundreds of apps, extensions, and integrations to learn best practices and teach others. You can get up and running with a variety of use-cases in just a few clicks. And we have a free plan that rewards contributors with a free personal Bucket forever.

Check out some of the apps built with Cosmic JS: https://cosmicjs.com/apps.

We're excited to be participating in Y Combinator for the W19 batch to help more teams avoid the pain of CMS infrastructure management so they can focus on building great products.

We'd love to hear your feedback and learn more about your personal experiences building content-powered websites and apps!






Going to be a hard lift to compete with the likes of http://strapi.io when you aren't open source.

I'm all for the headless CMS space, but I'll never recommend a solution to my clients that causes vendor lock-in and that I don't have the ability to operationalize myself.

Most folks in this space, wordpress included, follow a model of "open source, but pay us to scale and operationalize it for you".

They follow this model because it works.

As a CTO making decisions for my company, I'm not going to take the risk on a startup in this space without an open source fallback plan.


Exactly, after 15 years of web development, I never lock any customers into any proprietary anything. The cost, time, suffering, that come with the failure of a company we rely on is no longer worth it.

We have dealt with this a couple times with shopping cart providers, mls idx search systems, do-it-yourself website systems, captcha systems, cms systems (paid-for, now with no upgrade path for things like PHP5 to 7), payment processing systems, and more I probably can't think of at the moment.

If it's not open source, and self-hosted, then we walk away.

The only things we kind-of lock into now are hosting providers, email providers, and domain registrars. But we use pretty big and established operations for these just so we hopefully don't have to move things.


Not just the failure of a vendor, but the "success" too. They build the product out with a low-cost self-serve model and an army of loyal and enthusiastic customers, but then they get greedy / raise money / realize that they could be going after much bigger fish and they jack prices to the moon to shed all their current customers who are "holding them back". See Segment, Drip, and an endless list of others.

FYI we have and will always grandfather in early customers.

This is the same sort of promise app.net made

Would you mind mentioning who you use for hosting/email/domain registration? I'm doing research for a large migration and I love hearing what works for others in similar situations.

Not OP, but someone who is very familiar with this space:

Hosting... Don't do some crazy VPS thing, you don't want to worry about being a sysadmin. Dreamhost has a good WP setup with most things you'd need ready to go. There are lots of other "managed WordPress" companies too.

Email, just FastMail or G-Suite (Google Apps). Probably just the latter because it's familiar to most.

Registration is pretty negligible these days. I like Namecheap and their corporate values and support.


>Going to be a hard lift to compete with the likes of http://strapi.io when you aren't open source.

Does anyone know how they made their demo thingee on the front page? It's super slick.


They used a project called Typed.js. https://github.com/mattboldt/typed.js/

Looks like it is an animated gif. Not sure if that answers your question or not.

This is a good point. It's a challenge to convince CTOs to choose a startup to depend on for mission-critical services. For the most part, the trend is moving to greater trust for vendors that provide these services: Stripe, Twilio, Algolia. We're betting this trend will continue. And in the meantime, we're doing our best to off-set the fear of vendor lock-in with an easy export feature to export all of your data if needed.

Stripe/Twilio/Algolia are features for an application: Payments/Notifications/Search. Easier to switch out than the actual CMS (and very often balanced between 2 vendors - especially for stuff like payments and notifications exactly because you don't trust one vendor with a 100% lock-in).

Strapi looks awesome. Are you aware of any relevant competitors to it, MIT as well?

How does Strapi compare to something like Netlify CMS?

The whole point of a headless CMS is to not have to manage the CMS infrastructure. With Strapi, you would still need to manage the infrastructure yourself. This is actually called a "decoupled CMS".

Decoupling doesn't have anything to do with managing infrastructure. It means that the front end and the backend are communicating through an api, not a DB. This way you are not obliged to use the front end rendering of you don't want to. It's a special case of a headless CMS.

If Strapi started a hosted option, they would very much compete with your product. If your company goes under, customers have a lot fewer escape hatches than they do with open-source solutions.

Up front: congratulations on shipping. Shipping is hard. My impressions from looking at CosmicJS are not super positive, though, and maybe this will be of some use to you.

WordPress has problems. Big parts of WordPress sucks. But WordPress-the-thing is hard to argue with. It doesn't demonstrate a need to conflate sites with apps (maybe that impresses low-information folks but as a developer and a content creator I am left asking "so what?") and it doesn't need to hide its brain as a revenue model--they make a lot of money despite WP/WPMU both being open source. And somebody who has spent a decent chunk of time and money wrangling CMSes--I don't see a ton of value to a CMS I can't audit and can't just run myself. The `and` is important there. I'm happy to pay for support--and sometimes for operationalization, I've paid WPEngine a decent amount of money over the last few years--but I pay for support once I've validated the use case.

Perhaps I'm not the target audience. But I'm asking "why would I use this?" and coming up kind of empty. Beyond that, what does trouble me is the way in which you're intensely attempting to slag WordPress (which, tbh, rings hollow; "flies don't bite a man who's sure of himself" and all that). You can use WP as an API these days, and it's not bad. Not perfect, but not bad. But you can also do that with other headless CMSes, and I'm not really catching much differentiation between CosmicJS and those, either? The whole thing is coming off like low-information-targeting to me and that immediately makes me ask "OK, where's the grift?". I assume that isn't your intent, and I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. But that's kind of the message I'm picking up here, and that might be something to work on.


Thanks for the feedback. Our target customer is a team of developers and content creators that have experienced the pain of building and maintaining an installed CMS (could be any number of installed CMS systems WP being the most popular). If you haven't experienced that pain / are ok with it as a trade-off, that's fine. You're probably not a customer.

And I spent years building WP websites, made a career out of it for a while, so it's not anything against WP and certainly don't intend to come across the way you described. So really Cosmic JS was built to satisfy my own needs that I didn't get from an installed CMS.


This clears it up. Still, how do you plan to find and reach your target audience? Most of the people who I know use WordPress aren’t too technical and like the premade plugins and themes. Conceptually, I think it alleviates many WordPress issues, but I’m having trouble thinking of someone I know personally who has the issues you describe.

Our target customer is not a consumer, there are plenty of consumer CMS choices in the market. We're trying to solve the problem for teams of developers and content creators who don't want to waste time diverting developer time to CMS management.

When you say “developers”, you mean developers of another product, who want to add a blog or something? If that’s the case, I can better see the audience.

I think these dudes have it in their head that they just wrote the next React/Vue-tier JS framework, but in the CMS space.

It looks like he's talking about developers, in the sense of individuals or teams that build content sites (read: deploy and configure Wordpress or other CMSes) for customers as a business.

Fair enough. Good luck to you. =)

What does "drop-in replacement for WordPress" mean exactly?

At first I thought it meant I could maybe go to cosmicjs.com, enter a url and the username and password for my WordPress site, hit a button and have my site magically migrated to something that was 10x better.

But I guess what you actually mean is "WordPress clone" which doesn't seem as exciting.


To me a drop-in replacement for wordpress is something I can put on a server and point it at an existing wordpress database and it will run.

We offer a web dashboard to create content and API tools and resources to integrate content into any new or existing website or app. We actually do offer a way to import your WP posts https://cosmicjs.com/extensions/wordpress-importer

It sounds like you're describing something that one could port to, not a "drop-in" replacement. Wouldn't a drop-in replacement not provide the WordPress REST API?

Agreed, I've been chewing on that choice of words as well.

I have a hard time justifying the pricing here.

Wordpress is "free" vs CosmicJS is 49$/mo minimum without backup and only 3GB space.

For 49$/mo you could get a cloud VPS for Wordpress, including backups and even high-availability with no request limits (API limits in CosmicJS).

I know it's not straight comparable, but..


Developer time is expensive. Allowing devs to focus on the core-product instead of CMS infrastructure is a big time/money saver. This is the value prop for most all API-first services: Stripe, Twilio, Algolia. Why would you build your own "free" payments processing / telephony / search service when these focused services have done a really good job solving the problem for you?

Because all of those are hard, and CRUD is easy?

I mean, I see your point. I’m just not convinced it’s enough given the availability of a thousand other (free-ish) solutions.


The pricing is way too much.

Seems like one or two good fulltime developers can maintain a project like this.


Great point to illustrate the value! And how much does it cost to employ two good full-time developers?

But NOBODY has to employ ANY developers (full time or not) to have a Wordpress blog / web site.

You guys are a solution in desperate need of a problem.


Now would be a good time to come for Wordpress and their huge failure in their new editor called Gutenberg.

Gutenberg promises to have WYSIWYG editable React components, which is a big deal, but they made insane decisions like storing the attributes in HTML, rendering HTML in the database, and requiring component developers to keep an array of deprecated changes when they want to modify anything on the component. In other words: you want to add a new CSS class to your component? Need an entirely new component for that in addition to maintaining the last one. Failure to deprecate will result in something like a fatal error in the editor that the user can't recover from. It's like PHP-era decisions with modern promises.

People are thrashing around in Github Issues, but the team seems unbothered. I would pay $$$$ for someone to unseat them.


Great! A vote for Cosmic is a vote for change https://cosmicjs.com/pricing

It doesn't look like you support visually editing custom React components (?)

Currently, we don't offer a visual editor for React components. However, this can be done using an Extension. https://cosmicjs.com/extensions/

This may be something we or our community may make available soon with enough interest.


What is your plan to beat WordPress or get people to switch to your CMS away from WordPress ? There are plenty of other CMS providers out there who are doing a decent job but no one is able to take out the giant that is WordPress due to its market share and the community of support and plugin eco-system.

Also, terms such as "headless CMS" does not mean much to a regular user who is looking for a "site in WordPress". So is your intended audience primarily developers and freelancers/agencies ?


If you look at trends in the CMS space, WordPress is losing favor: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%205-y&ge...

63.2% of developers voted it most dreaded in the 2018 Stack Overflow survey (narrowly beat by Windows Phone) https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2018/#most-loved-d...

Our customers benefit by avoiding the pain of building and maintaining their own CMS infrastructure so they can focus on their core product. And we have a growing community that is adding more value through education and resources for every new user.

You're right, our target user is not a consumer who has many options for a consumer CMS. Our target customer is a team of developers and content creators.


> If you look at trends in the CMS space, WordPress is losing favor: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%205-y&ge....

In the last year, WordPress grew from 29.9% of websites to 33.3%. Is that really losing favor? https://w3techs.com/technologies/history_overview/content_ma...


You have to remind yourself to take this kind of figure with a grain of salt, since every measurement technique has some kind of bias. The StackOverflow survey specifically targets SO users, Google Trends might overestimate languages that receive lots of queries due to less experienced programmers or poor documentation, and it is truly impossible to scan the entire web to find which CMS powers each site (especially since customized CMS installations might not have telltale signs that others do).

> Our customers benefit by avoiding the pain of building and maintaining their own CMS infrastructure so they can focus on their core product. And we have a growing community that is adding more value through education and resources for every new user.

The Wordpress ecosystem is mature and extensive. Wordpress developers are relatively inexpensive compared to frontend devs. Open source Wordpress is free as in beer.

> You're right, our target user is not a consumer who has many options for a consumer CMS. Our target customer is a team of developers and content creators.

Developers are expensive. Wordpress is not. A Twilio play ("Ask your developer" billboards) appealing to devs might not be as successful in this space.


Indeed, developer time is expensive. They shouldn't spend it in CMS code :)

Yes, I agree when developers are your differentiator (SaaS product companies). But most content creators cannot afford expensive developers.

I wish you well, but the headwinds are strong.


WordPress is the most dreaded because it's the most used. Whichever CMS becomes the most used, will eventually become the most dreaded.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean we want to switch. It still happens to be the best tool for the job 9 times out of 10, whether I hate it or not.


Because you're closed source and charge outrageous amounts for a service that's been done a billion times.... I actually hope Wordpress puts your company out of business.

I would hate for naive people to get trapped in your ecosystem and continue to get overcharged for no reason.


I'm currently using Cosmic JS for a personal project, and so far I've been really impressed -- I was able to launch my site in under an hour, and that was starting completely from scratch with no prior knowledge of Cosmic and having never used a headless CMS before.

One thing that helped a ton was the availability of pre-built templates; there happened to be a node app template that fit my frontend use case perfectly, so I was able make the tweaks I wanted and launch.


Congrats on the progress so far. I can attest from spinning Corilla out of Red Hat and the journey we had with it, that there's always a niche for CMS or knowledge management tools.

Especially in the Series A to Series B segment, where ability to change, and necessity to remove complexity, meet the sudden availability of funds to assist. That's where your example of "you can pay X and hour for your engineer or Y a month for us to handle it" works well. How will you pitch this moving further up-market? Especially where the opex exists that dev costs are less important. And vendor lock-in (or likelihood of existing in five years) becomes an issue?

And further up the enterprise scale, the greater the demand for a robust open source community. Is this on your roadmap? If not, why not? Especially given you use Wordpress as an example, and most of the industry itself using open source as a basis for content engineering tools. It's now the default expectation. Even moreso with the likes of near competitors like Strapi being open source. Thoughts?

Your app library is nice, but much like Gatsby or Hugo... it's not "wow". Any plans to ramp up the devrel? How will you stand out from all the other headless CMS products? Especially with the likes of Contentful so well funded. Are you worried that the lack of open source cuts off the lower end of the market and community growth, and the war chest of competitors at the higher level of the market constrains your customer base somewhat?

And.. wat will CosmisJS look like in two and five years? What I love about CMS teams is the creativity and intent of the awesome people who run them, so I'd love to hear more about the big vision too! :)


Thank you. These are all great questions and things we consider a lot.

> How will you pitch this moving further up-market? Especially where the opex exists that dev costs are less important. And vendor lock-in (or likelihood of existing in five years) becomes an issue?

We believe that developer experience is table stakes now. It's becoming less the case that the CIO buys the tech and hands it to the development team. Developers are more and more making these technology decisions for their organizations. So it's our goal to empower the developers to help champion Cosmic for their team.

> And further up the enterprise scale, the greater the demand for a robust open source community. Is this on your roadmap?

Absolutely, that's why we're continuing to offer open source example apps, extensions, and integrations that can power complex business logic and to satisfy these types of customers.

> Any plans to ramp up the devrel?

Definitely, it's a big priority of ours to stay active in the developer community to listen and respond to use cases, technologies, extensions, and integrations that our customers will find valuable. This is our David / Goliath strategy. When you don't have a war chest to spend on marketing and sales people, you have to be resourceful :)

> And.. wat will CosmisJS look like in two and five years?

We've got an ambitious roadmap, so stay tuned! Simply put, our north star is to provide the most value for our customers by being the best solution in the era of API-first services.


Is it me, or the latest YC batch is rolling out negative surprises?

First, a magazine startup with sloppy design when design should be their foremost asset (after content): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19320608

Now a WP replacement which showcases and labels a sloppy editor as Delightful Experience ... https://cosmicjs.com/headless-cms#features--content-creators

Have you checked Gutenberg, the lates WP editor? It does blocks, like Contentful, Strapi and the other few dozens competing on the headless CMS scene.

Headless CMS is in equal part about content creation and content delivery ... a REST API and Graphql is not enough.

Sorry for the harsh words again but ... I do Wordpress since the beginning and I’m actively searching for a replacement. Yet dissatisfied again with a YC startup, the second disappointment in two days.

Tell me it’s coincidence.


I'm interested to hear more about what you're looking for in a dashboard experience. If you are looking to find a replacement (and not just blast another YC company) what features would you like to see?

“If you aren't embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late.”

If anyone is interested in a much-much more basic version of headless-CMS (micro-CMS): check out https://www.dropconfig.com/ - we built it as a collaborative repository+hosting for JSON files.

You can use it to manage all variable things in your app, including content itself, of course.

It literally takes less than a minute to get started, because you can create an "anonymous" dropconfig without signing-up.


Shameless plug

If you are looking for a self-hosted opensource MIT licensed option, checkout Daptin

https://github.com/daptin/daptin

I have been working on this since about a year and half, use it across a bunch of my own personal sites and desktop apps.

Would love to elaborate if there is interest :)


In Wordpress we can combine plugins to create a "whole" system, but your app directory looks like a ton of separate applications - which means, you can't pull together a bunch of plugins to create a complete system like with wordpress.

Or am i missing something?


That's right, Cosmic JS apps are fully-built websites and apps.

Extensions are more like WP plugins: https://cosmicjs.com/extensions/


Ah, so i was missing something ;-)

Thanks!


How do you position yourselves against someone like https://www.contentful.com ? Seems like a similar product, though less targeted directly at Wordpress Devs.

There are a few headless CMS players in the space, but we're different in our approach. Compare other headless CMS dashboards and APIs and you'll notice a lot of work has been done to make our solution as simple as possible. Content creators get the easiest dashboard to create content and developers get the most intuitive API tools and resources to quickly integrate content. We've been told "it doesn't get much easier".

Plus we're set apart in our commitment to our community and education. Our community contributes apps / extensions / open source code / learning center articles to help others with their specific use case. Our goal is for each new user to benefit from previous work in our community by offering pre-built apps, extensions and tutorials they can use to build a great product faster and easier.


I was looking something like this when I wanted to add a blog for my React SPA apps. I didn't want WordPress, but I wanted a simple backend just for editing the blog posts.

However, I realised that it is going to be bad for SEO as I cannot do serverside rendering this way.

I cosidered adding a WordPress blog, but eventually just ended up with a simple markdown rendering from the files - 1 file - 1 post.

If you manage to find a easy way to support serverside rendering, the product is going to be good.


My server-side React blog (https://philandrews.io) runs on Cosmic. And it's easy. Given that your blog posts reside at the end of a url, one GET request brings gets all the content you need to populate your index or post page. Pair your React with NextJS, fetch your post(s) in getInitialProps and you're good to go.

Here's an article I wrote about opening up a blog with Cosmic back in 2017. It still holds... https://hackernoon.com/language-agnostic-content-management-...


You CAN do server-side rendering. Check out our apps page to see how you can integrate dynamic content into any website or app, server or client-side: https://cosmicjs.com/apps

I think you should use static site generator such as gatsbyJS. It's even better than server-side rendering.

Just my $0.02, as someone who's been building things on WordPress more or less full-time for something like a decade now, and working with various other CMSes for another decade before that.

> Cosmic JS is a drop-in replacement for WordPress

I don't know what "drop-in replacement" means in this context. To me, a drop-in replacement for WordPress would offer one or more of the following features:

1. Connect to my existing WordPress content database and use it as its content store

2. Use my existing WordPress theme to define its presentation

3. Provide APIs that are 100% identical to the existing WordPress APIs (the Plugin API, the REST API, etc.)

4. Allow loading and running existing WordPress plugins without modification

I don't see how Cosmic JS does any of these things. Some of them it addresses partially, an example being that there is a content importer available to pull content in from a WP site. But that still doesn't feel like a "drop-in" solution to me. A drop-in solution means I can pull out WordPress and replace it with the new thing without having to think much or rebuild anything, which does not seem to be the case here.

> We noticed that lots of development time was spent building and maintaining the CMS itself, sucking time away from core application development.

I don't understand this. WordPress famously installs in five minutes, and once that's done you only have to deal with it by installing updates, which is increasingly something it can do on its own without your intervention.

It may just be a matter of semantics - to me, "core application development" on WP is everything you do beyond installing WP itself: designing content architecture, selecting or building plugins and themes, etc. The "application" in the WP context is the complete bundle of database content, first-party code and third-party code you assemble to create a given site.

> automatic updates caused sites to crash

I have literally never seen this. Never. If anything, my complaint on automatic updates is that the WP core team has been so cautious to avoid breaking sites that it's made getting automatic updates into the hands of WP users a glacially slow process.

> a client would decide to install a bunch of plugins that caused the site to crash

Any sufficiently popular CMS that allows third-party extensions is going to have this problem. There are going to be third parties out there writing crappy code, and users out there who get dazzled by the marketing of that crappy code and install it. If your solution to this problem is to tell users they can't install third-party extensions, or to drastically limit what those extensions can do, you're going to be at a severe marketing disadvantage to systems that don't have those limitations. There are lots of dumb people out there who desperately want to do these dumb things, and don't like being told the reason they can't is because it's for their own good.

> comment spam was a never-ending battle

Turn comments off (which you'd do on any non-blog site you're building with WordPress), problem solved. If for some brain-damaged reason you want comments, install Akismet (https://akismet.com/), problem solved.

> We're the only headless CMS that comes with a community of developers built-in

WordPress itself is becoming a headless CMS. WordPress.com already provides a REST API (see https://developer.wordpress.com/docs/api/), so if you just want to host your frontend and let a remote service host the software and database, you can do that with WordPress. (You can also do it with self-hosted WP, but the value proposition is less obvious there since you still have to run and maintain all the complicated backend stuff.)

If what I really want is a headless CMS, and WordPress has already started providing me with a way to satisfy that desire and is clearly going to be doing even more along those lines in the future, why should I switch? What do I get by switching that compensates for losing all the other stuff that comes along with using WP?

> providing hundreds of apps, extensions, and integrations

I guarantee you do not have as many of any of these things as WordPress does.

Please note that none of these things are issues with the Cosmic JS product itself. (For all I know, it may be very good!) They are 100% about the way you are pitching and positioning it. If you came to me, a guy who's responsible for dozens of WP sites, and used this positioning to pitch Cosmic to me as a replacement engine for all those sites, I would not find it to be a very compelling pitch. A cursory examination of the product leads me to be skeptical that it would really be an actual drop-in replacement -- and if I'm going to have to rebuild those sites to use the product, then suddenly it's not just competing with WordPress, it's competing with WordPress and every other potential CMS I could rebuild them on. Now I'm doing what (IIRC) Joel Spolsky called "the dreaded market survey," which means now there's a million paths I could end up going down other than the one that leads me to buying your product. You do not want that. You want to keep me focused tightly on your product, not start me out window shopping.

So my suggestion would be to retune the way you pitch this product. If it really is a drop-in replacement for WP, make it clearer exactly how and why. If it really isn't, then don't pitch it that way. Find some angle that Cosmic JS has that both makes it superior to WordPress and is clearly taking it in a direction that WP can't or won't go, and lean on that.

I hope this advice is helpful, and that it is received in the spirit of cheerful willingness to help with which it is sent!


Thank you for the feedback. I built a career building WordPress websites as well so I do have gratitude for the product and the ecosystem that it has built. But for years I did encounter these problems myself, maybe you or others have not, but this was my experience.

As for the semantics, you are correct, we are not proposing that you can use Cosmic to connect to your WP backend. We provide a light-weight solution to add dynamic content to any website or app. We offer a web dashboard to create content and API tools and resources to integrate content into any website or app. No infrastructure management needed. Our customers benefit from using Cosmic because they can avoid the pain of building and managing their own CMS infrastructure. But if you need that level of control and you like managing infrastructure, that's fine, then you may not be a customer.

We are seeing more and more services that offload these non-core infrastructure services: Stripe, Twilio, Algolia. They add value to development teams that do not want to manage infrastructure. That's our opinion on how content should be managed.

Hope this helps see things from our perspective. And I have taken your feedback in a cheerful spirit, as I hope you have taken my reply :)


The page insight report is really really bad: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=...

I mean, you are providing a CMS and your own page is this slow?

Shouldn't speed be the main focus?


The site isn’t actually that slow as a user, though. In the fourth frame of the little “film-roll” view below the times the content has already loaded. Most of that number comes from waiting for that little JavaScript-controlled chat button in the bottom-right corner.

I wish them all the luck in the world, I just shared something that I thought they might consider looking into as many CTO's would do the same thing I did.

But c'mon... It's giving me 14 secs to interactive. How isn't that slow?


Hmmm. I’m over a fairly high-latency, low-bandwidth mobile connection and it loads pretty quick (more like 3 seconds than 14). You make a valid point if it does in fact take 14 seconds to load, because that’s ridiculously slow.

Thanks for the heads up. There's lots of things we're working to improve.

Question: How was your traction before you guys joined YC?

>We're now powering production websites and apps for hundreds of teams around the world across various use-cases.

I guess I don't understand why would anyone join an accelerator with this level of traction. Seems that fundraising should be pretty straightforward.


We had good traction before YC. But YC comes with many benefits, not just fundraising.

I fully agree. What was the #1 factor for you to join the program?

Hard to boil it down to just one. The dedicated help in improving the company, the network, and others are the biggest.

Does this work with static site generators?

For the API requests per month pricing tiers, roughly how many API calls get made each time a site build is triggered for a site with say 100 blog posts?


Yes, you can get all of your content from Cosmic at build time for your static site. Here are some resources that may help:

Gatsby source plugin: https://www.npmjs.com/package/gatsby-source-cosmicjs

Gatsby Starter: https://github.com/cosmicjs/gatsby-starter

Gatsby App: https://cosmicjs.com/apps/gatsby-blog

Gridsome App: https://cosmicjs.com/apps/gridsome-blog

For API requests: To get all of your posts, you can use just one API request to the Objects endpoint.

Does this help?


Thanks! So you mean if I wanted to trigger a fresh build of a Gatsby site, it would only take a single API request to pull in all the content needed for the build? Even if you had thousands of posts and pages?

That's right. You get up to 1,000 results (Objects) before you have to do multiple requests on the API.

Which database backend are you using? Apologies if it's been mentioned. Also, does Cosmic support graphql subscriptions or streaming/live data?

We use MongoDB. We have a GraphQL API https://cosmicjs.com/docs/graphql, but do not currently offer streaming live data.

This sounds amazing. Good luck Tony. Cosmic is very useful and I wish you luck.

Thanks Emil!

you guys know you've got something important because there's an amazing amount of pushback from hnow it alls here. a bit of a lightning rod for criticism. well done!

What is your current MRR?

Check out sanity.io. They have a somewhat similar product.

Sounds very good by the description! I'll give it a try.

Great! Let me know if you have any questions :)

A lot of skepticism and resistance here. @tonyspiro, all the best at this. I do follow what you're doing and see the benefit of this in comparison to and also regardless of WordPress. At some point most things will be operating via APIs, and via hassle free SaaS services anyway. I, for one would not want to deal with installs, updates of any kind. It sounds like you've got some good traction that can hopefully continue. I will though acknowledge a few concerns:

1. A proper import / export tool for risk management

2. A slightly more refined message / call to action

3. Why the JS centric name/brand? Can it be used outside of NodeJS based tech stacks?

4. The price poice does seem high for small teams. You mentioned that this is normal for SaaS for some companies you listed. However, until you're established, it sounds a bit high. Can you perhaps go for a discount for the first X amount to time to entice potential customers?

Best! - K


Some answers to your points:

1. We do offer a full data export. After you login, go to Bucket Settings > Import / Export to get a full JSON file export of your Bucket.

2. Thanks for the feedback. Anything specific?

3. Early on we wanted to be able to add dynamic content to any website server-side or client-side using NPM / React / Angular. And the domain name was available :)

4. Our target customer is teams, not individuals. And the value resonates even more with larger teams because they experience more of the pain. We've actually been told they would pay more :)




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