API Economy: Growth of an API Hub from 0 to 100K developers & 10K APIs
We are an API Hub where over 100,000 developers can consume more than 10,000 APIs. We’ve been building this business for over 3 years, and there are a lot of things that we’ve measured throughout the process which we will be sharing in this post.
Over the past 3 years, we have been working relentless to grow the API community, business and economy. We’ll be sharing some of our key metrics in this post and how we achieved them.
Growth of APIs
In the Mashape API marketplace, we host a variety of APIs which span across distinct categories and use cases. There are two types of APIs on Mashape: Private APIs and Public APIs. Private APIs are only accessible by the API provider and his invited users, while Public APIs are available for all Mashape users. We started our journey a few years ago with only a few users who were invited to list their Public APIs on Mashape. We have come a long way since then. Today, we see exponential growth in the number of APIs listed on Mashape year after year, with over 10,000 APIs (both public and private) on our platform to date.
Most of this growth has been achieved through promoting Mashape as the one and only API Hub, where developers can quickly list their APIs to improve discoverability, and to easily monetize their product. Our platform has also rapidly evolved over the years, with many additional features to enhance the experience of both API providers and API consumers. For instance, one of the key features of Mashape is the easy-to-read API documentation and intuitive test console. API providers can document their APIs on Mashape in an intuitive manner, which reduces the friction for them to list their APIs. API consumers can also read the documentation and test the API easily by making an in-browser API call via the Mashape proxy. This in turn increases the API consumption for the API provider, which provides them an incentive to list more APIs on Mashape.
Birth of Private APIs
While Mashape is known to many as an API marketplace to discover and consume a large number of public APIs, Mashape’s growth has also been fueled largely by private APIs.
With private APIs, this allowed API providers to limit the API consumption only to a select group of developers. This helped to serve two purposes:
- Allow a small group of beta testers for the API which helps API developers gather feedback to improve their API
- Allow businesses to run their internal APIs through Mashape and restrict consumption of those APIs by the public
With the feature to support private APIs, allowing access to specific API developers is simply an invitation away. API developers can easily manage access control of developers consuming their APIs without having to set up strange authorization models.
Measuring API consumption
With APIs joining Mashape at the speed of almost 1.5 new APIs every hour, we are also seeing billions of API calls proxied through Mashape.
At the moment of writing, we are currently under 110 Billion API calls processed. While this might be a vanity metric, it helps to keep our engineers on their toes as they are reminded of the impact of their work through the almost real time display in our office.
Helping our users make money
In order to help API providers to make a living from their APIs, we have also defined three main categories of APIs in terms of pricing models:
- Free – No restrictions/ limits on API calls. No overage charges.
- Freemium – Typically has a free plan with limited usage, and a paid plan with less restrictions. Overage charges apply.
- Paid – Only paid plans are available at different tiers according to set limits. Overage charges apply.
Note that API providers can also specify custom pricing plans for specific developers, greatly increasing the flexibility of Mashape’s API monetization platform.
Internally, we find that most valuable APIs are not always the Paid APIs. In reality, the most valuable APIs are the ones that leave a hole in the API consumer’s workflow should they disappear. Whether it is sending an SMS, returning the weather at a location, or processing text with machine learning techniques, the API needs to be dominant in most consumers’ projects.
Hence, our API developers who cash in the most revenue tend to adopt the Freemium pricing model, where they hook developers in with their free plans, and then monetize on these developers as their API usage increases.
Growth of Developers
Mashape’s API platform has attracted numerous developers who have taken our product for a spin initially, and have grown to live on our platform. Today, Mashape counts over 100,000 developers on our platform.
Other than focusing on APIs, Mashape also focuses a lot on developers. When a user joins Mashape, he typically explores the Marketplace to get a feel of what Mashape has to offer. After discovering an interesting API, he quickly consumes it through the API documentation in-browser editor in order to understand how the API responds, and go on to consume it in his production app.
Having understood what Mashape has to offer, the user might decide to add his own API onto the platform. He typically starts out with a private API and a controlled group of developers, before making the API public. Once the API gains momentum, he will start monetizing and generating revenue.
Currently, developers on Mashape are a healthy mix of both API consumers and developers, with a huge proportion being both. Our top geographic regions are:
- North America
It is clear that we have lots of space to grow in countries where our brand has yet to land.
We are extremely excited about what’s to come as we continue to grow our product into a ubiquitous name among developer communities!