origin of karate

Origin of Karate

The Problem

Peter Thomas (creator of Karate open-source) was part of the API platform leadership at Intuit where his team was responsible for a set of 15 services. It was early December 2016, and Peter was in the process of troubleshooting one of the automated tests that his team was working on, and he was trying to solve an issue which had been slowing down the team – which was that a particular test for the core accounting services system was unstable. The test would randomly fail, and this was blocking a production release - because it was not clear if there was a problem with the test or if there was a genuine defect. The test that Peter was looking at was implemented in the Java programming language and it also depended on a framework created in-house, which had evolved over a period of 3 to 4 years.

Peter was troubled. Despite his many years of Java programming experience, it was very hard to understand what the test was doing. The test depended on code contained in multiple files scattered across the workspace, and this only made matters worse. It was clear that many programmers had attempted to fix this test over the years, and Peter started to think hard about whether there was a better way to express web-service functional tests.

Peter concluded that most of the complexity he was experiencing was because Java was not well-suited for the domain of testing web-services. The term “impedance mismatch” is well-known in the fields of Science and Information Technology to depict a situation where two independent technologies don’t work well together when combined. An impedance mismatch leads to inefficiencies, and additional effort needed to work around the gaps. Peter was convinced that he was looking at a textbook case of “impedance mismatch” between Java and Web-Services.

Key realization for Peter was that JavaScript is far more effective than Java when it comes to working with JSON.

Peter also had a hypothesis that teams were not able to achieve the ideal level of functional test coverage simply because the impedance mismatch between Java and JSON made it too hard. He studied the test-suites in other projects as well, and found many examples where tests were incomplete, as they were not fully validating the JSON responses returned upon invoking a web-service. In his mind, this was a huge risk, because such tests would fail to detect problems that would break end-user experiences if released to production. Peter was convinced that a new approach was needed, and he decided to try and find a solution.

The Birth of Karate

Peter was able to quickly build a prototype that could interpret short, human-friendly commands expressing the “intent” of calling a web-service. It would then make the actual calls using Java code designed to be general-purpose. The success of this experiment convinced Peter that he could create a super-readable Domain Specific Language (DSL) for making any kind of web-service call. The “domain” here being the world of HTTP, JSON and XML.

It was at this point Peter decided to call the framework “Karate”.

Public Reception

On February 09, 2017, Karate was released as to the public as an open-source project.

A breakthrough for the Karate project came in the form of a man named Joe Colantonio, a prominent test-automation evangelist. Joe had looked at Karate, immediately liked what he saw, and came out with not only a blog-post, but a ten minute YouTube tutorial to go with it. Karate had finaly arrived.

Joe opened his video with the words “awesome” and called out how easy it was to get up and running and how simple it was to write tests. The interest in Karate took off, and questions and feedback started appearing on the project web-site.

What started as a powerful, scriptable framework combining API and UI test automation, is adopted as a best-practice today - in teams around the world.

Karate Labs Inc.

In our continued mission to democratise testing, we decided to leave our day jobs and work on Karate full time with the primary focus of keeping our open-source community’s participation and trust. For this, we needed to be profitable to ensure a balance between improving the open-source code, ensuring effective user onboarding, and providing community support.

We incorporated Karate Labs in 2021 as a for profit company to improve the open-source code and building premium features to generate income. Paid features have given us the ability to hire more developers to work on both versions of the product, to continue releasing more features and make test-automation simple and fun.

Why we’re Different

As GitHub did for code, Figma did for design, Karate will do for Testing.

Let us take FIGMA for example - Figma enabled real-time collaboration in the design process, workflows sped up, enabled non-technical stakeholders to be part of the design process. More importantly Figma made design fun.

Karate will continue to make test automation collaborative and fun. We will continue to onboard programmers, non-programmers, product owners and business stakeholders to Karate.

We will achieve this by remaining true to the origin of Karate i.e.
karat Achieve
Making test automation SIMPLE.
karat Achieve
Write tests
karat Achieve

Nothing of Karate open-source will be monetized. Our primary focus is to keep our open-source community’s participation and trust. For this, we need to be profitable to ensure a balance between improving the open-source code, user onboarding, and providing community support.

Early generations of commercial open-source startups monetized by providing managed support or offering paid enterprise features on top (the so-called “open core” model). This approach led to great success for companies like Red Hat, MongoDB, Elastic, etc.

Today, the increasingly common open-source monetization strategy is to deliver the first product as a fully managed “cloud service,” which gives developers access to the open-source product, minus the pain of complicated installations, configuration and ongoing maintenance.

We launched the Karate IntelliJ plugin and Visual Studio code extension removing the pain of complicated installations, configuration and ongoing maintenance while addressing any security concerns as Karate is “LOCAL-FIRST” meaning when using Karate, user data will never leave customer firewall. This amongst others has been a primary driver for companies to migrate from SaaS providers to Karate.

So much so, all of Karate open source is free within the plugins with the option of premium upgrade for features like debugging of tests, importing Postman collections, OpenAPI specs and generating Karate tests etc.

We also provide consulting, training and dedicated support to our enterprise customers.

But launching a freemium plugin is not in of itself a monetization strategy. What’s in the Karate plugins that solves a pain point so intense that developers & testers, who are used to leveraging Karate open source anonymously (and for free), will be willing to register for an upgrade, pull out a credit card or tell their platform engineering or procurement teams to sign an enterprise contract with Karate Labs?

That is the rub that will define whether Karate is an open-source solution or a responsible for-profit open-source company.

Why we’re Different


Partner with Karate Labs

Grow your business with Karate. Whether you are building solutions that integrate with Karate or services that help customers reach their full potential, get the resources and technical support you need by partnering with Karate Labs.

Our partners from across the globe are here to support customers with consulting, system integration, onboarding, training and more.

Partnership Opportunities

Partnership Opportunities

Consulting & Solutions Partner

Integrate Karate with your solutions to create an outstanding testing experience for your customers. Leverage your technical and sales capabilities to consult, sell, & implement Karate.

Technology Partner

Every customer has unique needs. This is why we work with technology partners to extend Karate and provide users an authentic experience throughout the testing lifecycle.

Partner with us to deliver innovative user experiences within your product.

Join our Partner Ecosystem

Core Team


Peter Thomas

Co- Founder & CTO

Peter is recognized as one of the world’s top experts in test-automation. He brings 25 years of industry experience from which he has been in open source for the last 18 years. He has worked at Yahoo and Intuit. As part of the API platform leadership at Intuit, Peter created “Karate” the open-source solution unifying API, UI & Performance testing.

Peter was one of only 15 chosen by GitHub for a grant in India 2021.

He co-founded Karate Labs Inc in Nov’21 to accelerate the adoption of Karate with the mission of making test automation fun and collaborative. Karate Labs is a Y Combinator backed company.


Kapil Bakshi

Co- Founder & CEO

Kapil brings 24 years of experience spanning strategy, sales, technology partnerships, operations, and marketing.

Prior to Karate Labs, he has worked in the Consulting, IT and Engineering Outsourcing with clients across industry sectors. Having held P&L leadership positions at Larsen & Toubro, Atos, Infosys, he has grown business to $100+ million in annual revenue.

Running a company needs to be an Infinite game. It is not only about the now, but also the implications of our actions today that will have an impact on generations to come. The end game, irrespective of generations, is the same: safe, happy, prosperous and a healthy ecosystem.

Karate Labs is in an infinite game.


We are proud to have Y Combinator and Uncorrelated Ventures as our investors.

Y Combinator
Y Combinator

Y Combinator is an American technology startup accelerator launched in March 2005 and has a community of over 9,000 founders. YC has funded over 3,500 startups and YC companies have a combined valuation nearing $1T.

Y Combinator
Uncorrelated Ventures

Founded in 2019,Uncorrelated Ventures is a venture capital firm based in San Francisco, United States. The firm prefers to invest in infrastructure software and fintech, both traditional and decentralized, from three active solo-GP funds with ≈ $700M AUM. The founder, Salil Deshpande, has invested early (often super early) in 100+ companies over 17 years, including Redis, DynaTrace, MuleSoft, Buddy Media, Quantum Metric, SpringSource, Sysdig, MakerDAO, Compound Finance, Cosmos, Jambool, Dropcam, Tealium, Pipe, CoinDCX, Astranis, Astronomer, Lending Club, Upgrade, Gradle, Sonatype, Frame, DataStax, Jeeves, FingerprintJS, Crusoe Energy, Cosmos, Opyn, dYdX and Philz Coffee. Salil was on the Forbes Midas Seed List of 25 best-performing seed investors in 2022, the Business Insider Seed 100 List of all-time best-performing seed investors in 2021 and 2022, and the Forbes Midas List of 100 best-performing venture investors worldwide in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.