Kin Lane

Honesty In API Startup Land

I take flack from folks when I write posts like I did last week about Oracle acquiring Apiary. I can't help be blunt about these fabricated realities that many folks claim to be "inevitable". Why would I not congratulate Apiary? I explained--I'm not dealing in Silicon Valley currency, I'm just a vocal spectator, and acquisitions don't make me happy. People also like to tell me that not all startups are bad, and not all big companies are bad, and not all founders are greedy. True, but do you ever stop and ask yourself why you feel compelled to speak out when these things are true about a signification portion of the space?

Sure it is the natural course of everything, right? Startups get created, then they get acquired--it's just business. Ok. So if these things are inevitable, and just the way things are done, why aren't they included in the marketing and the origin story that you tell your customers from day one? You know, "Hey we have this great new service that you should use, but we want you to know that at some point we are selling this thing and making a bunch of money (or not), and your whole world will be disrupted when our service goes away (or not)". It is because we are not being honest with people, forcing me to be the asshole who talks about it after the fact.

So what is actually inevitable? That all startups will eventually go away, and companies are bought and sold or is it that business people are inevitably dishonest? I'm not asking for much. I just want us all to make sure there are good APIs, with a robust set of data portability and integration tooling, so that small business owners like me can reliably depend on services, without their world being disrupted every time one of you hit your big payday. Also, maybe we could have just a little more honesty and less hype along the way. I just don't understand why I'm the delusional person who is living in another world when y'all are the ones playing these games.

All I'm asking for is: 1) Data Portability 2) Complete API Stack 3) Integration / Syncing / Migration Tooling, and a little bit more honesty about change and what the future holds--then you can do your startups, sell them, and play this game in a way that won't create fatigue across the sector. I think entrepreneurs underestimate the damage that this will do to the average business consumer's appetite for adopting new services--something that will hurt everyone.

Oh, while I'm ranting, you should consider being more honest about change in your API operations with hypermedia. ;-)