Reading Time: 15 minutes

Season 1 of APIs Unplugged featured a phenomenal set of special guests and a wide range of API-related topics. To wrap up the season, Matt and Mike review some of their favorite moments from each episode. From getting a view of life inside an API product company, to analyzing API business models through value exchanges, to examining the convergence of AI and APIs, this episode gives a taste of the ground that was covered in Season 1.

You can listen to the episode here:

latest report
Learn why we are the Leaders in API management and iPaaS

Here are our favorite quotes from each episode:

Episode 1: API tech trends in 2020

“Much of software engineering history has come from a perspective of ‘we can be deterministic about the systems we’re building’ and I think we’ve reached a stage of distribution where everything is non-deterministic.” 

Matt McLarty, Global Leader of API Strategy, MuleSof

Episode 2: API business and organizational trends in 2020

“In the physical world, we’ve got hundreds of years of market development, of understanding distance and staging. We don’t have that yet in the IT world. In fact, we don’t really have a shared marketplace. Everyone who gets involved in this is designing a market as well as designing a product.” 

Mike Amundsen, API Strategy Advisor, MuleSoft

Episode 3: Inside an API company

“We build a lot of internal APIs. And, you know, we fall into all the same danger zones that everybody does, which is, ‘Oh, the internal API, I know I can explain it to people on the Slack channel.’ I think that philosophically, we all agree that [it] would be ideal if we did treat all our internal APIs the same way we treat our external APIs.” 

Lorinda Brandon, VP, Engineering at BetterCloud (formerly at Twilio)

Episode 4: API product thinking

[Talking about marketing APIs to consumer buyers and developers] “It’s almost like they’re selling educational toys to parents. Look at how much fun your child will have! Look at how much they’ll learn! Hitting those two different value points with those two different audiences, that’s what creates the purchase, that’s what creates the use.” 

Stephen Fishman, Global Practice Lead, Customer Success Strategy & Architecture, MuleSoft

Episode 5: API activism

“So then once you get this data, and you’re able to download it, you’ve done some of the work, you still might find that the data itself is unusable because the data quality is really poor, or the data has fields that you don’t understand the semantics of… I think the APIs go some of the way to solving this problem, because it does make data more usable. It makes data available in a more scalable way.” 

Shelby Switzer, US Digital Service

Episode 6: API business models and value exchange

“But data… I can actually give you a copy of my data, and give Mark a copy of my data, and that means it’s a different kind of value exchange going on. It’s not like I’m dealing with a finite resource. In economics, they call this ‘rivalrous goods.’” 

— Mike

Episode 7: Diversity in API strategy and communities

“I think technologists are actually great communicators, even though many people would argue that they find their technology peers not that easy to understand and respond to, which is why it’s important for people to be able to translate a message appropriately and for their messages to be heard. It’s a bit like someone standing at the back of a stadium trying to be heard by one person on their team down on the pitch at the bottom. You need to be able to join the collective chant and song to be heard with the message that you’re trying to get through.” 

Claire Barrett, Director, APIsfirst

Episode 8: APIs and integration in the enterprise

“We think about digital transformation, it’s got this connotation that it has a beginning and an end… I think a lot of companies are finally coming to the conclusion that ‘digital transformation’ isn’t really the objective anymore. It’s something I would call becoming a dynamic enterprise… It’s the idea of being capable of micro pivots in a continual fashion.” 

Lou Powell, Partner at ProKarma 

Episode 9: API ecosystems

“Internally, we couldn’t develop features and functions fast enough for our seller community or our buyer community. Having this ecosystem externalizes that development and opens up the opportunity for some of these developers to provide value and build value for themselves.” 

David Timby, Senior Manager, Vertical Operations & Planning at eBay (formerly at StubHub)

Episode 10: API discovery and risk management

“The way that APIs are evolving — the business aspect of that, the technical aspect of that, and the strategy aspect of that — how and which APIs need to be exposed, at what level of granularity and to which partners, is it a free API — this whole notion around strategy and the business is evolving as well. And there are more stakeholders involved than just a developer.” 

Baljeet Malhotra, Founder & CEO at Teejlab

Episode 11: Building an API company

“I really think this is one of the magical parts of building platforms, which is: we get surprised all the time by the kinds of things people show up and want to build and it’s not our job to figure out every possible thing that people could possibly find this useful for. It’s very horizontal. By having these conversations with the people who are showing up and building, it’s really informed the product direction in a very key way and the way we’ve crafted the vision in the long term.” 

Christine Spang, Co-founder & CTO @ Nylas

Episode 12: Developers as customers

“These developers want to get a job done for their business then move on to the next thing… so the focus on productivity — they’re not a student, they’re not a hobbyist, they’re not testing something — they have a thousand features to do, maybe four of which are with your API, so our job is to make them productive so they can get the integration rolling so they can move on to the next thing for their business.” 

— Gail Frederick, SVP Engineering, Developer Experience at Salesforce

Episode 13: API-enabled data

“I think COVID has made us so much more cognizant of each other. We really don’t have enough context sometimes to be effective. Think about it: If you go on to Twitter today and you see a trending hashtag, if you did not start your day with that hashtag on Twitter from the minute it was born, you don’t understand how that thing has transformed. And that’s the same thing here. We, as API providers, cannot think about this like a random viral hashtag that will just happen. We have to bring people with us along that journey. You gotta take the horse to water… you can’t just dunk it there and expect it not to drown.” 

— Sanjna Verma, Senior Product Manager, MuleSoft

Episode 14: APIs and AI

“When we look at the problem in front of us, we say, ‘Hey great, we know we want to solve online toxicity, but wow we have 40+ models.’ So it’s very important to be aware and embrace it from the very beginning… you will not create a generic toxic model for everything. You are creating a model per use case and per customer, that is your value proposition to that large platform. Now the challenge is… how can I do that? How can I have data for terrorism and sexual harassment at the same time?” 

Tiffany Xingyu Wang, Chief Strategy Officer at Spectrum Labs, GM and Co-founder of the Oasis Consortium

Episode 15: APIs-as-a-Service

“It’s funny how hard it is for engineers to think about doing things in small pieces. It’s ironic because, what do you do when you write code? You basically take a problem and you decompose it into little pieces… but when it comes to applying that to how we do work, we seem to struggle with it. A case in point: imagine a situation where it takes you eight days to go from commit to the point where you’re ready to deploy it. And you know that you want to be able to do it ten times a day. Well, maybe before you try and do it ten times a day, maybe make it take seven days instead of eight. Then six instead of seven. So much of my work is coaching on how to shave a half a day off, and repeating.” 

Jeff Sussna, Founder and CEO, Sussna Associates

Be sure to follow the podcast on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, and subscribe to our newsletter to get summaries of the episodes.