Mashape, the cloud API clearinghouse originally founded in Italy, today announced that it will be opening up its services to the general public after a little over a year in beta. In terms of positioning, Mashape is in a very good place; its business is based around providing a single go-to location for APIs, of which it has a hefty library, now topping 400 listed, a significant growth over 110 APIs at the launch of its beta.
The company is adding on new APIs at the rate of about two every 10 days, according to Mashape founder Augusto Marietti. That growth is helping it build out the supply side of the equation, but Marietti says the most important aspect of Mashape is its user base.
When asked what provides Mashape its strongest advantage over its competition (the API space is heating up, and will likely continue to do so, with entrants like Mashery providing access to APIs and API management), he said it was “the community.” “Building a marketplace is very hard,” he explained. “But once you solve the chicken and egg problem [of building out supply in the form of APIs, and demand in the form of developer customers], you are even harder to kill.”
Mashape accomplished this by focusing on the supply side first, which is where that 300 percent growth in available APIs has come from. Now, the team feels they’ve reached critical mass in that regard, so opening up to the general public makes sense at this point.
In terms of the types of partners it has on the supply side, Mashape has already had some significant success by paying attention to the community has an appetite for. When Face.com shut down access to its facial recognition API post-Facebook acquisition, for instance, a developer called Lambda Labs built a replacement and attracted hundreds of developer customers in just a couple days via Mashape. That kind of case study is representative of the advantage developers get through Mashape: an audience primed and ready to consume the products they’re offering, without the same kind of discovery hurdles of building an API yourself and shopping it around solo.
Historically, the best way to sell APIs has been building a test case via a standalone product to show what it can do. With Mashape and its competitors, developers can often skip that step and simply build services that others are looking for. The convenience factor for shoppers, who can also analyze API usage through Mashape’s new Consumer Console, which Marietti says is “the first dashboard out there that unify the consumer experience of multiple APIs for a developer.”
Mashape is firmly focused on facilitating the selling of APIs, and is happy to leave the management part of the equation to more established players like Mashery, 3scale and Apigee, but Marietti notes that that’s actually a selling point, since its customers don’t have to remain locked into one API management platform, but can freely choose which to use based on their; with those other platforms, you can’t necessarily use them in combination with one another.
With its pubic debut, attention will be on how fast Mashape can now grow its user base. Getting big-name clients on board on the API side could definitely help spur that growth, and the startup clearly feels its ready to take the next step.