Successful Developer Programs

John Musser, October 16th, 2007

There were a number of interesting sessions at yesterday’s Business of APIs Conference hosted by Mashery. Dave McClure, who previously oversaw the launch of the PayPal developer network, gave an engaging, to-the-point talk entitled “Successful Developer Programs”. If you’re running an API developer network or even thinking of running one, here’s a summary of good ideas and important questions to ask yourself:

Who’s your audience?

  • What kind of developers? Indies, small co’s, enterprises? They are not all the same.
  • What makes them tick?
  • What problems do they have?
  • Are there geeks already solving your problems?

Your product better be cool

  • Cool = new, innovative, latest tech
  • If it ain’t cool, make it cool
  • Provide code examples
  • Make them either rich or famous (or both)

Your team = more geeks

  • Hire extroverted geeks (tough). Bloggers, writers; wiki, forum addicts; try conferences; find the alpha geek driving a crowd of geeks
  • Credibility is important
  • Recruit a geek advisory board: with target languages/platforms; customer verticals; should already be successful, making money, well known

Geek metrics

  • Examples: # new customers; # downlaods; # active developers; # transactoins, $ revenue from APIs
  • Tip 1: make sure your non-geek boss signs-off
  • Tip 2: assume < 1% convert to active use

API biz model = biz model

  • Bake your business model into your api; no free rides
  • Hopefully your api is a business development deal
  • If your api helps geeks make $, you win

Education = it’s the only thing

  • To win you must educate (product mktg)
  • To educate you must speak (blog)
  • To speak you must do/show (code)
  • Tip: do not require registration or login to educate, ever.
  • Perhaps require login to make money
  • Your api should be invisible to the customer

Marketing = sell the geeks, not you

  • What do geeks crave? respsect (always), attention (sometimes), money (sometimes)
  • Help sell them: BFF
  • Product directory of 3rd party app
  • Preferred/certified dev program
  • Affiliate/incentives for your geeks
  • Send them a steady stream of customers

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Successful Developer Programs”

October 19th, 2007
at 5:29 am
Comment by: renaissance chambara | Ged Carroll » Blog Archive » Links for 2007-10-18 [del.icio.us]

[...] Successful Developer Programs – How to [...]

Follow the PW team on Twitter

ProgrammableWeb
APIs, mashups and code. Because the world's your programmable oyster.

John Musser
Founder, ProgrammableWeb

Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.