How Tight Is The Coupling Between The SaaS Business Model And The API?
15 Dec 2015
As part of evaluating 50+ companies, and their business approach to delivering APIs, I came across the Box platform. As I am looking through this diverse slice of API companies, I am looking to better understand the motivations behind providing APIs, and how sophisticated the monetization or overall planning are for their operations.
For most APIs, there is either no evident monetization strategy, the strategy is directly coupled with API access, or indirectly part of larger monetization strategy around existing devices, products, advertising, software as a service, or any other type of service. When it came to Box, they have a clear SaaS pricing model, as well as one specifically for their API ecosystem--of course they are both intertwined, but the fact there are separate dimensions I felt made it worth highlighting.
Box has obviously put a lot of thought into their business model. In addition to having a separate set of plans for their SaaS, and developer areas, they have the developer page broken down into packages by Box platform, content, and view--which I don't fully grasp yet, and will continue to evaluate. Out of the 50+ companies I looked at, Box was the only to have such a significant separation between the SaaS and developer layers, whie also being very tightly coupled, leading to me putting aside for further consideration.
This latest sprint in my API plan research was limited. I am guessing that the more companies I find that operate like Box, the more this will all come into focus. I'm guessing at Box central there is a command and control center with a master plan on the wall of how the SaaS side of things works with the API side, as well as a breakdown of the tiers that is based upon their operational experience over the years.
The best I can do from the outside is try document the patterns across SaaS and API pioneers like Box, and understand the role in plays in the API landscape. While I do see a number of successful patterns across successful API driven platforms, I do not see the holy grail of API business models, due to the number of individual resource contracts (aka documents), and specific industry constructs (aka regulation). This doesn't stop me from trying to understand all the building blocks, and sharing what I can on API Evangelist.