Big Companies Flexing their Muscles
A story came out recently about Instagram cutting off its feed to Flipboard. But this is nothing new. Instagram shut down its access to the developers of Being, 2 months prior. It did the same with a hot startup Phhhoto the year before. Instagram similarly cut off Kevin Rose’s now-deceased photo app Tiiny back in October 2014. Most notably, Instagram cutoff its access to Twitter, and they are the ones responsible for disable preview in Twitter.
So why does Instagram have an API, if it doesn’t want developers to use it?
The cynic would say, “it’s because they want to allow developers to build awesome things on their platform, and if there is some sort of traction, they shut them down and steal their idea.” The realist would say, “it’s because they want to leverage any growth opportunity that they want. At the end of the day, they are a company which is run by humans. Humans need to eat, therefore the company needs to make money.”
Anyone outside of Instagram doesn’t know what their roadmap looks like. Therefore, anyone leveraging their tech, but impedes their roadmap will have to be “taken out.”
But this doesn’t stop with Instagram. Twitter is also a big offender of blocking developers from using their tools to leverage growth. As we had written in:
Companies can become victims of their own success. Either they grow too fast and investors don’t buy into their vision…medium.com
“Meerkat and Periscope are very similar. Both apps are built for users to send live-streamed videos to followers. Those streams could show anything, such as a product demonstration or taking your dog for a walk.
During its peak popularity at the South by Southwest festival in March 2015, Meerkat was integrated with Twitter. Shortly after and with little notice, Twitter cut off Meerkat from its social graph (making it harder to find people to follow) and quickly replaced the app with its own, newer and arguably better version, called Periscope.”
Denying that companies can do what they want with their information, and the rights to it, is foolish.
Andrew Chen once wrote, “the fastest way to spread your product is by distributing it on a platform using APIs, not MBAs. Business development is now API-centric, not people-centric.” A company will grow to build its value proposition. Hook in users. And with its API, it will leverage other platforms to gain more users and more data. From the data that the larger company gather its Partner Company A, it can offer to Partner Company B.
So the flow is 1) Large company builds a great business and large user. 2) Smaller growing companies want to leverage the Large company’s data and users and plug into their API. 3) Large company grows even more with data from Small company’s source. 4) Large company becomes larger and more valuable.
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