API Economist: Congratulations on a successful APIdays San Francisco! You had a great turnout of experts.
Mehdi Medjaoui: Thank you! This was the first time there has been an API conference where all major API vendors contributed their experts as speakers. We had a good mix of experts not only representing start-ups such as Runscope but large companies such as Intel, SAP, and Salesforce. The API economy is vibrant. Every year that passes more APIs are being published and integrated into the apps, websites, and online services we use every day.
API Economist: You founded the first APIdays conference in Europe with events in Paris and Madrid. How did you get inspired?
Mehdi Medjaoui: It all started with our vision at Webshell to help make the glue of APIs that build the programmable web and the Internet operating system. We can make technology the glue but we also need the glue of humans behind the APIs in the real world because ultimately everything is human-powered. That was the inspiration to create an event to gather all of the API influencers and experts together to help advance the API economy.
We partnered with faberNovel, which is a French company. They are an incubator or idea lab that helps large organizations think and act like startups. They have offices in Moscow, San Francisco, New York, and Paris. They are the perfect partner to help host our APIdays events. Our first event was in Paris late last year and it was an unexpected success.
To my mind, the Paris event was really the first international event on APIs. It was easy for us as we also organize the Paris API Meetups. We received a lot of attendees with speakers from 12 countries. Everything we do around the event, we use an open source approach: the website, the marketing material, the design work, and the shared sponsor contacts. The success of our event has led to the demand for doing more of these conferences worldwide. Although we do have a lot of developers attend, we encourage non-technical people to attend as well as we provide an appropriate program agenda for them.
API Economist: You founded API 500, an API rating model to help developers manage risks and opportunities when using APIs. What was the idea behind this?
Mehdi Medjaoui: Our real world economy is based on trust. For example, trust between customers and suppliers, and trust between you and the government. The banking system is also based upon trust. This is why we call credit, "credit." Our whole economy is based on trust.
At Webshell, we think that the Web follows the real economy. We just believe that it goes maybe a hundred times faster. Our observation is that the API economy is behaving exactly like the industry supply chain in the real world.
General Motors has thousands of suppliers for every component of an automobile. These components and raw materials are aggregated and assembled into a car at their factories. I think the Internet economy is behaving exactly like that. API services are the specific parts that are assembled into applications. These applications are just products based on this ecosystem. What makes this unique is the speed at which these APIs can be aggregated into a value added product. These APIs need web service supply chain management.
We need API providers and consumers to have a system of trust. API 500 can act as a rating agency to help establish trust and transparency. Many factors can be used to rate an API provider: it can be based on policy, on ecosystem outreach, on the company providing the API, or on the reliability of the API itself. Many factors are important to enable trust because when you build on application based on an API, you trust the API providers. Think of this as a kind of Standard & Poor’s for open APIs.
API Economist: What is the current status of API 500?
Mehdi Medjaoui: A few months ago, it was only a blog. But, as I’ve been attending and running around industry conferences and events, a panel of API experts and API specialists has been formed. We will announce the name in a few weeks. We tried to gather a wide panel of API economy and industry experts to help us make sure we are doing this right for the broader API ecosystem. We also launched a kind of algorithm that looks at API patterns, reliability, terms of service, and API policy. We plan on publishing it at the end of the summer, that is, a global set of 50 API providers to start with.
API Economist: What are your favorite mobile devices and some of you favorite apps?
Mehdi Medjaoui: I love Chromebooks. It’s all about the programmable web – we need only an Internet connection to work and make things. It’s truly my favorite mobile device. I also use an iPhone as my smartphone. I’m the only one on the team with an iPhone, everyone else is on Android.
My favorite app is definitely Instagram because everyone can be an artist. This for me is a signal of the economy of the world. It’s not so much that people want to buy products, it’s that they want to make things.
API Economist: Mehdi, thank you for your time!
Mehdi Medjaoui: Tout le plaisir est pour moi! [The pleasure is all mine.]