Robert Scoble interview with Mashape CEO Augusto Marietti
Interview transcribed below:
I’m Augusto, the CEO of Mashape – the leading and largest API marketplace in the world. I grew up in Italy and moved to US in 2010.
Very cool. So API marketplace. This is for developers. [Correct]. I guess there’s a few competitors out there, but why do we need an API marketplace?
As the world is moving to have more and more APIs, and software is moving to be more API-centric, there is now a need to unify the multiple APIs in one single place where you can find, distribute, consume, and manage them. Kind of like what Github did with open-source code – we’re kind of replicating that for the cloud APIs.
How many APIs are there now [in your system]?
I don’t have the exact number but we are at above 3,500 APIs. Majority of them are private. 70% of those APIs are private. We have around 600-700 public APIs in the marketplace.
[Demo starts at 1:30]
When you say marketplace, you’re not doing any auctions or anything like that. You’re straight on searching for..
Yes. It’s more like Amazon where you buy the service you want to consume if it’s a paid usage. We have Spotify as well, which is a free API in their case. So it depends. It’s where you consume multiple APIs in your software, and this is one single point of control, one single dashboard. Not only to search, review, compare different APIs (like SMS APIs), but also once you start to consume them, you have a unified place to manage them, see the analytics, report, traffic, on all your API stack.
Do you report the business safety of using the APIs. Like if I’m using something like Foursquare, that’s a different thing than if I use an API from a kid who just started up yesterday. [Because] Foursquare has a lot of funding, they’ve been around for a while, a lot of companies rely on that API. So the chance that it’s going to out of business tomorrow is not very high. They might go out of business in 5 years, but not tomorrow. Now where some kid started something in his basement and puts it up there. I don’t know if it’s going to survive tomorrow, he might change his API name, he might decide to charge. With APIs if I’m building a system, I’m taking real business risk from someone else. Do you rate that risk at all?
What we provide are two different points of view. One is the analytics point of view provided by Mashape which shows you the status, latency, etc. The second thing is community (or reviews). Basically the community reviews the API. So if you go search for say, machine learning APIs, you get 40 results. Then you can compare which one is the best. Not really on the name, but based on the reviews of other customers consuming them. Did they have responsive support? Did the API have a high quality (JSON) response? So you have developers like you rating that particular API, other than just analytic tools. Because a lot of APIs started out with just big corporations doing them. Salesforce in 2001, Amazon, eBay. Then what you’re seeing is that more companies are opening up APIs, startups (Foursquare). But now even a single developer has APIs. So it’s really going to add to the decomposition of software, and there’s now a huge long tail of good APIs. So for example we have Porn Filter API that is done by a small company, but they have quite a number of customers on that one.
You can’t really guarantee a company won’t change his API, with policies, and pricing, right?
We are a broker. So as a broker we don’t own the API provider side. This is the case with the Public APIs, because with the Private APIs you are in charge of your own destiny, a different business model. But the public APIs, yes there is a risk to that. But you can do versioning and you can move developers from say version 1 to version 2. What really matters is that you advise them in time, so you say in 6 months we’re going to change the API to this one. That’s what we see. Otherwise if you do like Twitter like you change multiple times, then you’re going to break things – it’s bad practice and companies shouldn’t do it.
Do you show any of the infrastructure needs? Say if I sign up for the Twitter firehouse, I would need a lot of infrastructure to deal with that. Do you show some of the consequences of using an API?
At this point we do basic analytics, reporting, monitoring both for API providers and for the consumers. For example if a consumer subscribes to a plan for say 10 thousand calls per month, and you reach 8000 API calls, we send a notification to say hey you reached 80% of your quota. You may upgrade to a plan otherwise you may incur overcharges.
Am I getting the same API as if I went directly to say Foursquare?
Yes correct. You also get a standardized way to consume APIs in Mashape with one API key. We also auto-generate the code snippets. Every API endpoint has a code snippet [shows screen] for PHP, Java, Python, Objective-C, Ruby, and .NET for Windows 8. So those are auto-generated for all APIs using the same Mashape logic and structure. So once you know how to consume one API in Mashape, you actually know how to consume them all. So the API is still the same.
Can you see trends in operating systems? Can you tell how popular Windows 8 is?
Yes we have that data. The most popular one is PHP, worldwide.
Do you have to think about how you’re going to use APIs differently than if you’re serving an overseas market rather than say the San Francisco market?
That’s something that may happen in the future as more and more APIs come up. Sort of a localization of the marketplace, like it could be localized for Japanese in the Japan market, and consume only Japan-based APIs. Because they might want to consume only Japan-based SMS APIs. So that something that will happen in the future. We don’t have that yet, but I see this trend.
That is very cool. What else do I need to know as a developer?
There is a very big component – the private APIs market. The public API is just the tip of the iceberg. There are millions of private APIs.
Do you have an example of a private API?
Foursquare was a private API first, consumed from the Android app, iPhone app, and everything else. Then there are partner APIs like Netflix. Netflix is one of the best API-centric enterprises out there. They send their content to more than 1000 types of devices worldwide through their API. Like their app in Xbox, they have Microsoft as their partner. And that’s a partner API that only Microsoft can access. And then they can distribute all their content to the Xbox. So that’s a very important component in Mashape – you can invite API collaborators/developers on your private APIs inside and outside your company.
How do you guys get paid?
If it’s a paid usage API, we get a revenue share of what the API provider is making.
How are you guys funded? Tell me about your company.
We launched to public last August 2012. And we raised a seed funding of $1 million and a half, from NEA, Index Ventures. Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt.
That’s pretty cool. What are you seeing in this API world? I mean APIs will become dramatically..
It’s very exciting times, compared to just 5 years ago. You see companies hiring API engineers, API developer evangelists, API business development, those positions did not exist a few years ago. What I’m seeing is kind of a commoditization of all these. If you think about it in 2008, there was only one SMS API company, it was Twilio. Now there’s more than 50 SMS companies in the world. So you can clearly see that in every single vertical there are more and more APIs coming up. Kind of like the assembly line, these little components that you’re going to build and put together – that’s I think where software is going. The APIs are driving that (because of mobile), because you need to put software in any device out there (say in your fridge). APIs are the best way to move information from A to B, without having to change your backend. I think they’re going to drive this software mobile revolution.
It’s going to be really interesting. Mobile is turning into wearables.
Yes, even better for APIs. It means more APIs. More devices means more APIs underneath. So that’s where I see the world going.
Very cool thank you so much!