Considering The Obvious And Subtle Differences Between Similar API Providers
12 Feb 2016
Evaluating exactly what is the "right" API can be very difficult. This is what I do full time, and its hard for me to understand the differences--I cannot image what it is like for people who have real jobs. I've used both the Crunchbase API, and the AngelList API for some time now, to help me better profile the companies that I am paying attention to as part of my research. I use both the website, and API for both of these business data platforms on a regular basis.
As I read about the recent investment in Crunchbase, and their changes in pricing, I'm reminded of my half finished work, incorporating the OpenCorporates API, and taking another look at all of my business data sources. I won't be able to afford Crunchbase after the changes, which will suck, but honestly I'm not a big fan of their overall operations, and approach, and happy to see the data source leave the stack of APis that I depend on.
This leaves me assessing what is next, as any major API plan changes will do to consumers. In addition to needing the data behind each company I monitor in the API space, I need a public page to reference across my storytelling. It is unfortunate that I've used Crunchbase for this historically. In an effort to keep my readers informed, I've also been supporting the very closed (and increasingly so) platform. When I pick up my business API integration work, I will switch off Crunchbase, keep my AngelList feed, and turn on OpenCorporates, but I will also start using the public OpenCorporates page as the URL reference I use in my storytelling.
For me, it is important to find the resources I need to run my business, but it is also important to support services that have healthy practices. I have an overall objective to have relevant business data on companies I monitor, something Crunchbase and AngelList has provided a portion of. However I am also having to weigh what information OpenCorporates provides me, and where this overlaps with, or is in addition to Crunchbase and AngelList. I will lose some valuable information when I turn off Crunchbase, that I will not be able to replace with OpenCorporates. This is ok. The ethical trade off, between supporting OpenCorporates and Crunchbase is worth it to me.
There are other sources of information like Mattermark, but similar to the path Crunchbase is on, their services are priced out of range for small, startups like me, who really aren't playing in the VC game. OpenCorporates has a more tiered approach to pricing, making it more accessible to me, allowing me to get access to data, and scale sensibly, as my needs grow. OpenCorporates also also me to add data to their corporate database, which is something I will explore through an API lens in future stories. In this post, I just wanted to explore the obvious and subtle differences between these similar API providers who provide business information.
Each of these providers offer up different data points, coupled with different API plans, as well as licensing and terms of service. Understanding the differences takes some serious evaluation, lending weight to the fact that many companies, and application developers will be needing API brokers in the future. Why I choose one provider over another may not be be the same things other companies will be considering, as I have different objectives, but having as many details of these API operations profiled is important, to help other companies go through the same process that I am going through--something I will keep working on as the API Evangelist, through my API Stack work.