Daniel Jacobson, responsible for NPR’s trailblazing API, is leaving his post to join Netflix next month. Jacobson will become API Director of Engineering for the movie rental service, looking to support the company’s continued expansion to additional streaming devices. At NPR for over 10 years, Jacobson launched its API in 2008 and recently supported mobile devices that helped NPR’s traffic double in a year.
Jacobson joins Netflix at a time when the company is widely distributing its content to wherever media is played. All of these applications are supported by the Netflix API, which provides the meta-data, such as movie titles, and the ability to authenticate users to their own Netflix accounts. The new role is less about creating an API as it is expanding what’s already there. “More of the focal point will be continuing to evolve the APIs for the enterprise needs of the company,” Jacobson said.
While Netflix has been popular with developers, one major reason for an API is internal development, as Jacobson recently wrote in a guest post. “I think it’s a great fit because I think that’s exactly the model that NPR has taken,” Jacobson said. “It’s all about eating your own dog food.”
Before Jacobson launched NPR’s API, the organization had two outlets for its digital content: the website and what Jacobson called a “less-than-optimal mobile site.” Using the same APIs available to developers, NPR built apps for iPhone, Android and iPad, as well as a new mobile site. The result was 100% growth in NPR website traffic, mostly due to the apps. “As we launched apps, we saw additive pageviews. It wasn’t cannibalizing pageviews from the site,” Jacobson said.
NPR was among the first major media organizations to publish an API. When the we covered its launch, we noted it was the first talk radio API to provide access to the station’s content. Additionally, we compared it to the New York Times, which had announced but not released an API. The newspaper released its first API three months later.
Jacobson has been a frequent contributor to ProgrammableWeb as a guest author. For reference, here are all six of his blog posts so far:
His posts have provided a transparent view of how he ran the NPR API and we hope to continue to learn from his experience at Netflix.