APIs for Newbies: Rise of the API Economy

Chap. 2 — If you are not living under a rock, most probably you have already been using APIs. It’s now behind the scene every application you are using right now; APIs are pieces that put together the digital economy.


You don’t know what is an API yet? Well, a must read will be chapter 1 of the Series — What is an API? In short, APIs power much of what we do online. Start-ups and established companies alike are leveraging the technology to become a bigger part of our lives.

The API Gold Rush

The API revolution is upon us. Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen APIs grow from a curiosity, to a trend, and now to the point where APIs are core to many businesses. As a witness of the API boiling economy, the ProgrammableWeb directory listed more than 17,000-API in march 2017. This is a huge milestone, much bigger when we know that 90% are private APIs and not listed.

The ProgrammableWeb directory eclipsed the 17,000-API mark in the first quarter of 2017 and this milestone gives us a chance to look at what the data can tell us about the API economy.


What is the API Economy?

For those unfamiliar with the API economy, it is simply the exchange of value between providers and consumers through APIs. For example, Google provides Google Maps, which a company like Airbnb can plug into its applications without having to build its own mapping system. This exchange of value is what makes the economy. What organizations are trying to figure out now is how to plug themselves into that economy to add more of their own value.

The API economy, this is the true collaborative economy applied to B2B.

As an economical system, the API economy will allow tech companies to do a lot more, with a lot less ressources (including human ones). For each company, or unit of production, the question will be whether to focus on its core business or not and whether to externalize or not ancillary part of their business such as HR to LinkedIn, CRM to Salesforce, Payment to Stripe, Building search to Algolia, etc.

The API economy is changing the way we build companies. By thinking your company as a compilation of Lego blocks that you can externalize and interconnect, you may want to get rid off low value and highly competitive part of your business while better focusing on what matters the most, the “secret sauce” that makes you unique, and highly valuable.

With 17k+ public API up to now, there is literally an API for building your company from scratch, block by block.

APIs are amazing!