I am joining the API Academy

I'm excited to be a part of such a great team. Here's why.

I am joining the API academy. I know this will help me to achieve the API industry goals I set for myself 7 years ago.

For those who don’t know me ... since 2011, I have devoted my career and a lot of my free time to evangelize the development and use of APIs. Why? To enable more world automation, with a vision to a world where we humans will be able to do more human work. Let's API all the things now and tomorrow!

Years ago, I founded webshell.io with 2 friends. Webshell helps integrate and combine APIs on the fly with a REPL interface and IDE powered by a Javascript DSL. It's a kind of unified Javascript SDK for 100+ APIs. That was fun and we received a lot of excitement from the community, but after being interviewed by Y-Combinator, we pivoted into something more directly useful for developers.

In 2014, we pivoted to OAuth.io, a SaaS middleware that integrates OAuth protocol from 3rd parties or helps build your own OAuth server. It generated hundreds of millions of requests, dozens of thousands of users and apps created, and hundreds of customers. The moment I am most proud of is when we open-sourced the core of OAuth.io--oauthd--to help others solve the problem at no cost, or firewalls. Was it a smart business move? Maybe. Probably not. It felt like the right move for me, and that is what matters. The company is still running with my friends, developing a new product called Materia. Materia is a neat and slick low-code Rapid Application Development tool to build application backends easily. In 5 words: Data model in, Docker out.

When I first started working on APIs, I found that the average knowledge of APIs was a lot lower than expected. By developers and by the business too. This is why I founded APIdays conferences in December 2012. A conference to gather the humans behind APIs. And this is also the first time I met the API Academy. It was one of their first conferences under this brand, when they were still part of Layer 7 Technologies. I met Mike Amundsen and Ronnie Mitra, and they delivered 3 great talks. I still often recommend this talkfrom Mike about the story of Modern Computing History.

I made a call at the end of the first conference for others to fork it, like an “open source event”. And it worked pretty well. So far the conference has been run in 27 editions in different cities--Paris, Madrid, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Sydney, Barcelona, Melbourne, Zurich, Auckland (New Zealand), Tampere (Finland)--and new cities are coming for 2018. We are now at a pace of 8 conferences a year. I worked with great regional teams evangelizing APIs, even if some had to stop producing the event because of acquisitions (and the mother company wanted to stop the event) or because of bankruptcy(!) But I thank them all for their involvement.

Our main yearly event is always in Paris, gathering in 2018 around 1,500 participants on the theme of “Sustainable Software”. I thank all the sponsors who helped me achieving this, and especially CA Technologies which was often on the top tier sponsors for our events.

I worked also on the concept of an API rating agency, to help companies to reach a AAA grade: API Awesomeness Achievement. It was a concept for rating APIs based on:

  • the company strategy with APIs (are APIs core for the company? Does the API help for a sustainable business model? Is there a sustainable business model for the API)
  • The policy and legal (are API ToS friendly and how far are they enforced?)
  • The developer experience (API design, API documentation, onboarding)
  • The performance (API monitoring, Status, errors and consistency)
  • The humans behind the API (is the API run internally, who are the responsible parties?)

I stopped the project because of need of focus on oauth.io, but as victor Hugo would said about the French Commune: “The body is on the ground but the idea still stands!”

My current projects:

As I join the API academy, it is not for the past but for the future, and I will continue the projects I am currently working on:

ALIAS: a decentralized authorization protocol enabling users to manage a progressive Identity in the digital world. In others words, decentralizing OAuth with a Blockchain. Because everybody should be able to register with an ALIAS.

An API Startup Accelerator Program (ASAP), in partnership with Readwrite IoT Accelerator program: 12 startups, 12 weeks, 12 VIP dinners with outstanding successful API entrepreneurs, in SF, from february to may 2018. My main goal here is to prove that in a completely digital world, API companies--defined by self service distribution and program business models--will be overperform on their ROI.

An Open source, machine readable API terms of service framework. Like the Swedish API License, but for California Jurisdiction.

An API influencer program, in partnership with Readwrite, to raise a new independant voice in the API space from API experts. A kind of independent, community-driven ProgrammableWeb.

The API Industry landscape, to help decision makers source the best API tooling companies to partner with for their API lifecycle

The Re-Factory manifesto, or how to apply code refactoring principles to company organization with APIs, Microservices and Containers. How to change without changing. How to change structure without changing behavior. And still be up and running but ready for the long term.

A model for Trade-Credit-Insurance for APIs and cloud services (in the continuity of the API Rating Agency I have been working on), where as an API consumer you receive money to integrate with someone else competitor if your API provider has an API default or as API provider you could pay a premium to guarantee to your users that they are covered if you make an API default (issue or deprecation) and answer some trust questions when onboarding as a new API on the market, without proven records.

Lean APIs: A book about how to adopt startup culture in every organization with APIs, thinking lean, thinking ubiquity, think self-service,thinking evolvability, thinking automation/des-automation and leverage APIs to enable business repetition, scalability and profitability with APIs. Think the mix between Lean Startup, Platform Revolution and API a Strategy guide.

Bring APIs into the political debate, with authorities and governments, like I am doing in France with the ARCEP (Telecommunication and Internet Neutrality regulation) to bring API neutrality on the table, or with the European Data commission about a certification for PSD2 Banking API regulation.

APIdays conferences: Still here, still 8 events a year, with our 2 next conferences in Berlin about “Banking APIs and PSD2” and Paris (main event) about “Sustainable Software”. For 2018, Conferences are planned already and I am glad to announce that we will organize a important conference in the USA in April. APIDays USA, with 1,000+ attendees.

That is a lot, I know. But these are important initiatives and I now will have the time to stop talking about it and start implementing all of them. If you are excited by any of these projects, please reach out to me and I will be glad to have you onboard.

A team of great minds now has an API Economist.

As I said, I have known members of the API Academy since 2012. And I never had such important discussions about technology, society and the future of humanity as with API Academy people. Ronnie, Mike, Matt, Irakli, Holger, and now Erik. It is rare to see so much intelligence in such a small team. After all, they are paid for that, to think of the future and educate people living in the present with software lessons from the past. I really loved their most recent book on Microservice Architecture. The kind of book you would love to contribute to.

At the API Academy, everyone has a special skill, a special power. I decided to join as API Economist, to explore the underlying Economics of APIs (and please not the “API Economy” which has been used too much). This is topic of my current interests and I think what is needed since 2011: APIs a strategy guide from Daniel Jacobson. We need newer examples, fresher stories and more numbers about the Industry to show the opportunity to decision makers. About my neutrality on the Industry

I have been known to be neutral, organizing vendor neutral events and providing neutral (but opinionated) advice about what is happening in the industry. I never received directly money from vendors for consulting, advises, or insiders secrets. I never made affiliation contracts, success fees contracts, even lots of them proposed me to. Who does not want 8% on a 7-figure deal :). I knew that what I was building was bigger than my person. Why waste so many years of effort for a check?

But some may argue, that joining the API Academy changes something about my neutrality in the space?

I think not. I hope not. I will stay neutral in the conference I help to organize and in my everyday work. It is true that I will go to see CA customers to evangelize APIs as it is part of the mission, but I will not directly sell any product. I will be here to talk about APIs, Microservices, Platform thinking, Open innovation, agility, like I did in the past 7 years for managers and executives worldwide. I will not be in charge of products or demos. This is not the direct role of the API Academy, and the reason why I invited them to most of APIdays conferences to talk. The academy is here to open the minds of decision makers about digital transformation everywhere. To build a bigger pie for all.


The Author

Mehdi Medjaoui

Lead API Economist

As the founder of the API Days conference series, Mehdi is a well-known expert in the global API community. He is also an API entrepreneur (Webshell.io, Oauth.io), published author, and an in-demand API consultant. Mehdi brings a broad range of experience and expertise to the team, and will act in the role of Lead API Economist, and focus on the economics of APIs.

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