Treating New API Startups Like The Companies They Will Become
31 Aug 2016
I get a number of eager new entrepreneurs contacting me, looking for wisdom and insight about the API space. I've always worked to make myself accessible to people who are looking for knowledge around what is possible with APIs, and what is happening across the API space. Sadly, after six years and watching many companies come and go, I'm slowly changing this practice when it comes to startups.
I have always been open with my knowledge on the space, and happy to schedule time for a gHangout or Skype call with each wave of new API startups, but after watching many of them grow up, get more funding, find their exits, acquisitions, and failures--I just can't keep doing it in good conscious. In my experience, only about 5% of these companies actually care about the space, their customers, and the rest are only focused on their own success and the success of their investors.
Most of these entrepreneurs do not understand the damage to the wider community that their selfish focus brings. My requests to give back to the community in the form of open API designs patterns, open source software, storytelling, and supporting conversations like @APIStrat often go right over their head. Usually, they talk with me 2 or 3 times, get what they need, and go away without ever giving back. Why would they give back to the community, if I'm so willing to just give it away--extract maximum value, and give nothing back is their belief system.
I'm sorry but APIs aren't failing us, our startup and funding models are failing us. I do not anticipate this getting any better with the recent shifts in the funding landscape, and the increased amount of attention paid by, and to the enterprise. I will continue giving via my blog, but will become much more picky about who I jump on the phone, skype, or gHangout with. I'm sorry, but if you want this to be different, you can start by working to set a different tone in the API space by giving back, sharing, and invest more in the community, and open web technologies--not just focusing on getting rich, your proprietary tech, locking up resources, profiting off your users data, and leaving everyone behind once you get yours.