The afternoon sessions at the API Strategy and Practice conference included one focused on business models in an API centric world. The session featured talks on the Evolution of API Business Models, Market Driven API Business Models and Lessons learned from $0 to $1M API Revenue. One talk that caught my ear was by 3scale CMO Guillaume Balas discussing how to select the right business model.
In highlighting several models and the factors supporting each, Balas’ main takeaway was that your organizations core asset(s) is what has the most value and that an API is only a channel to that. To that end his advice to any company is “don’t ask what business model should we use for our API; instead ask what API should we use for our business model?” He went on to describe the four main business models.
API as Product
API Projects the Product
API Promotes the Product
API Powers and Feeds the Product
He summed up his talk by reminding listeners to identify the core business asset, recognize that the API is a channel into it and that decisions on the API should be based on the business model, not the other way around. Balas makes the distinction between his business models and John Musser’s models which were identified as revenue models. Regardless of the model though, his message stood that APIs provide businesses with a lot of flexibility.