Monday, October 06, 2008

Managing your API

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To get full benefit of the network effect of the internet, most web 2.0 companies have been developing an API (application programming interfaces) enabling others to use data and link effectively them.

APIs let software applications talk to each other, push/pull information, etc. It's how developers build third-party clients, apps for Facebook, Google Maps (GOOG) mashups, and more.

Now even the giant mainstream retailers are making their data available. For example, Best Buy, the giant US electronics retailer (and partner of Carphone Warehouse), just announced its own A.P.I., called Remix. Web developers can now draw on any information from the Best Buy Web site – product specs, prices, photos, user reviews – and port it over to their own sites.

The protective walls around information are slowly crumbling. Although of course the use of the API is carefully managed and controlled. In Best Buy's case managment of the API is done by Mashery on their behalf.

Mashery, is working with old-line firms like Hoover’s, Reuters, and even the New York Times, to develop A.P.I.’s.

The New York Times ran an interesting article on this subject a couple of weeks ago, with CNet following.

As many companies have found, doing a commercial deal with a business partner is the easy part of the relationship, getting systems to talk to one another, accounting for the traffic and seamlessly integrating presents a more difficult challenge and one that diverts scarce development resource. This is particularly the case when you need or want multiple partners - sometimes in the hundreds.
San Francisco-based Mashery, helps companies manage their APIs
using its fully-hosted, scalable on-demand infra-structure.

Mashery now numbers amongst its clients:
MTV, Trulia.com, compete.com, calais.com, linkedin.com, whitepages.com, daylife.com, lonelyplanet.com, zemanta.com, zoominfo, reuters.com and shopping.com

The company raised $2 million in new funding at the end of June to help build out its product, add more customer support, and hire more sales and marketing staff.
.406 Ventures led the round; Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff participated, as did previous investors First Round Capital and Formative Ventures. The company has raised $5.2 million to date.
TAG has been invested since July 2007.

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  1. Do you think API's should be considered for all new tech-startups or should this be left for the 2nd or 3rd phase of your development cycle?
    Could widgets be a simpler and more cost effective way to make your data available to users, who can then spread the love for your company as they wish?

  2. No Jay, APIs are not right for all startups. They should be used to support specific business objectives and are best used by companies with relevant and changing content. Widgets are perfectly good for many forms of content distribution. APIs allow users to integrate and personalise more easily though.