Why a Tech Journalist Cares About Your API

There are a lot of things I weigh when deciding to write about a company: is the product interesting, is the technology innovative, is the company's story compelling. Some days, it's "news" when a very small feature change occurs at a very big company. And some days, it's "news" when very big things are afoot at very small companies.

Most days, it's not quite so clear cut as that, and I have to wade through hundreds of email pitches in order to decide which stories to tell. And as I do my research and conduct my product reviews and my phone briefings, one of the things I look for is an API.

Although yes, I want to hear that your product has traction. I want to see that customers and investors like you. I want to hear about the problem your company addresses, the technology you've developed, your business model, your background, your domain expertise.

But I also want to hear about your API. Why?

  1. An API demonstrates you recognize your product does not exist in a vacuum. You are not simply concerned with how you interact with your customer, but how your product interacts with others your customer utilizes
  2. Having an API points to a business development strategy that relies not just on marketing to these customers but on cultivating business partnerships. Having an API is, as Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake argues, "Biz Dev 2.0."
  3. A quick look via the link on your website to your API (you do have a link to your API, right?) can give a sense of the strength of your developer community. Do you make it easy and desirable for other developers and companies to use your API?
I don't expect every company, particularly startups, to have a robust API upon launch. But I will often ask what the company's plans for an API entail. It's a question that gives me a glimpse into potential partnerships, data portability, mobile strategies, and platform and ecosystem development, for example. And it's a question that can reveal a company's vision -- or lack thereof -- about where it sees itself, its services, its partners, and its developers.