APIs Will Just Get More Unreliable As Funding Becomes More Volatile
People love to point out that APIs are unreliable. You can’t depend on them. They go away at any point, and they just aren’t something you want to be building your business on top of. When in reality APIs aren’t reliable it is the business, people, and investment behind them. The reality of the startup game is that us API consumers aren’t actually the customer, we are just numbers in a larger game where startup founders and their investors are looking for enterprise customers to purchase their startup getting the desired exit. The API is just about attracting consumers, who will do the legwork to bring in users, adding to the value of a company.
As the startup funding landscape continues to dry up, shift, and evolve towards more riskier and volatile versions of investment like ICOs, things are only going to get worse. Of course, few conversation will place the blame on the people and companies behind, but APIs will continue to be the scapegoat for the instability. It works just like the robots coming for your jobs. You never hear that rich people who own companies, that are making decisions to replace workers with robots are coming for your jobs. Its the robots. Technology in many forms makes for a great blame shield, absorbing the responsibility for the volatility, instability, and scams that are going on across the landscape.
In reality, nothing much changes for us API consumers. You need to get to know your API providers, well as the company and people behind them. Study their approach to operating their API. Do they communicate? Do they have proper support? Do they communicate their uptime status? What type of funding is propping them up, and the shape of their business model use. Make sure you always have a plan B if you can, and do not trust that ANY API will be around forever. If possible, come up with failover plans, and run drills with your team regarding what will happen when APIs fail, become unreliable, or go away entirely. Ultimately it is up to you to determine the impact unreliable APIs will have on your APIs. We can blame API providers, startups, and VCs as much as we want, but it is entirely up to us to help stabilize the API space for our users.
Investment, fundraising, and chasing exits will be the #1 area of instability for the API space. After that it will be the network, ranging from network neutrality going away to lack of investment in capacity and security. While the growth in the number of companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies doing APIs will keep things on forward trajectory, the reputation of APIs will continue to take a hit when it comes to the stories people tell about who is to blame. APIs are the frontline for almost everything occurring online these days, and this will make it the first place everyone will be pointing the finger. It is up to us in the API community to keep telling stories putting the blame where it is deserved. If we are not telling stories, the other side will, and they’ll be firing up the pundits, continuing to let irresponsible API startups get away with their bullshit games.
Note: If my writing is a little dark this week, here is a little explainer–don’t worry, things will back to normal at API Evangelist soon.