Can I Resell Your API?
15 Jan 2018
Everyone wants their API to be used. We all suffer from “if we build it, they will come” syndrome in the world of APIs. If we craft a simple, useful API, developers will flock to it and integrate it into their applications. However, if you operate an API, you know that getting the attention of developers, and standing out amongst the growing number of APIs is easier said than done. Even if your API truly does bring the value you envision to the table, getting people to discover this value, and invest the time into integrating it into the platforms, products, and services takes a significant amount of work–requiring that you remove all possible obstacles and friction from any possible integration opportunity.
One way we can remove obstacles for possible integrations is by allowing for ALL types of applications–even other APIs. If you think about it, APIs are just another type of application, and one that many API providers I’ve talked with either haven’t thought about at all, or haven’t thought about very deeply and restrict this use case, as they see it as directly competing with their interests. Why would you want to prevent someone from reselling your API, if it brings you traffic, sales, and the other value your API brings to your company, organization, institution, or government agency? If a potential API consumer has an audience, and wants to private label your API, how does that hurt your business? If you have proper API management in place, and have a partner agreement in place with them, how is it different than any other application?
I’ve been profiling companies as part of my partnership with Streamdata.io, looking for opportunities to deliver real time streaming APIs on top of existing web APIs. Ideally, API providers become a Streamdata.io customer, but we are also looking to enable other businesses to step up and resell existing APIs as a streaming version. However, in some of the conversations I’m having, people are concerned about whether or not API provider’s terms of service will allow this. These developers are worried that revenue generation through the reselling of an existing API as something that would ruffle the feathers of their API provide, and result in getting their API keys turned off. Which is a completely valid concern, and something that is spelled out in some terms of service, but I’d say is often left more as an unknown, resulting in this type of apprehension from developers.
Reselling APIs is something I’m exploring more as part of my API partner research. Which APIs encourage reselling, white and private labeling, and OEM partnerships? Which APIs forbid the reselling of their API? As well as which APIs have not discussed it all. I’d love to hear your thoughts as an API provider, or someone who is selling their services to the API space. What are your thoughts on reselling your API, and have you had conversations with potential providers on this subject. I am going to explore this with Streamdat.io, APIMATIC, and other companies I already work with, as well as reach out to some API providers I’d like to resell as a streaming API using Streadmata.io and see what they say. It’s an interesting conversation, which I think we’ll see more discussion around in 2018.