The cloud-computing boom has seeded a crop of fast-growing companies that cater to software coders. How investors can profit from the pursuit of API-ness.

AMAZON GETS LOTS of credit and flak for turning retail upside down; it also earns plaudits for its pioneering cloud-computing business. But in a still-unfurling development, the seismic shift that Amazon wrought in the IT world has spawned a whole new business category—providers of “APIs”—that has already begun paying off for a few prescient investors.

Amazon Web Services, the tech giant’s cloud-computing business, began as a way to boost affiliate marketing and power e-commerce sites. But within a few years, the project had incubated a grander vision. Amazon bet—correctly—that it could make a killing providing basic IT functions to all kinds of

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