How WebAssembly Gets Used: The 18 Most Exciting Startups Building with Wasm

## Structure of the post

This post assumes some knowledge of WebAssembly, but if you need a primer, this one is fantastic. I reached out to 18 startups that were either using WebAssembly in production or building core infrastructure to develop Wasm applications. Every company answered two questions. Their responses to these questions are below:

  1. How are you using Wasm?
  2. Why did you choose Wasm over other technical approaches?
  • Server-side
  • Client-side
  • Server-side
  • Client-side

## Startups building products that use Wasm

###Using Wasm — server-side

### Using Wasm — client-side

## Startups building Wasm infrastructure

### Building Wasm infrastructure — server-side

### Building Wasm infrastructure — client-side

## What’s next? Areas to keep an eye on

That was a quick look at how Wasm is being used today, client-side and server-side. Here are some opportunities I see for the future. As you’ll see, these ideas aren’t fully baked, but I hope they’ll spur some good discussion:

### Client-side Wasm

Figma, Autodesk, and Google Earth have all built amazing browser experiences with WebAssembly, yet it’s still non-trivial for developers to do the same without the support of big company budget and expertise. I still see a few areas of opportunity to make the client-side Wasm experience better:

  1. Frameworks: There are still not enough client web frameworks that use WebAssembly to manipulate the DOM. Developers want options when building applications, and right now, they are limited to only a few Wasm frameworks — most notably, Blazor, from Microsoft.
  2. Feature support: There are variations in feature support for WebAssembly across browsers, so it’s difficult to build an experience that will work in every browser. There is still an opportunity to simplify this experience.
  3. Debugging: WebAssembly applications are still non-trivial to debug, which severely limits developer productivity.

### Server-side Wasm

Several of the startups in this post are making it easier to build and deploy WebAssembly applications. These companies have accomplished a lot in a short time. Here are some more opportunities moving forward:

  1. Observability — I’m curious what the observability story will look like for WebAssembly applications. The shift to containers/microservices enabled new observability solutions like Honeycomb and Lightstep, and I imagine that the shift to server-side WebAssembly could enable the same.
  2. Databases — Bringing “compute closer to data” seems to be the future for low-latency applications. WebAssembly modules are small and easy to integrate, so they could sit within a database. I’m not exactly sure what a product would look like in this space, but I’ve seen a few people try to extend user-defined functions (UDFs) within databases with Wasm modules.
  3. Security — I still believe that there needs to be a Wasm-specific security paradigm. WebAssembly modules don’t have any built-in access, so developers have to explicitly grant capabilities, which makes these modules much more secure. But, these modules are still a new attack vector, and I can imagine that they will catch the eye of sophisticated hackers.

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Renee Shah

Renee Shah

Partner at Amplify Partners focused on infra, dev tools, and security