Toni is a really smart guy that really understands Web 2.0 and the power of opening up Yahoo as a platform for developers.
I was originally going to do a full transcript of the interview but that turned out to be a TON of work. So I thought I’d summarize for folks and provide some key points that I thought Toni made during the interview
On what his group at Yahoo does:
Toni - “Once an API is ready we launch it, we support it, we evangelize it, we make sure that developers build things and we help them build great things.…Clearly the end goal is to have great applications emerge.”
I think that this is terrific. The fact that he has a team of 12 people working on this shows that Yahoo is making a real commitment in this area.
On the business behind getting developers to create things on a Yahoo platform:
“It’s about driving more user signups, more activity on that platform, making that platform more useful to our users and eventually helping third parties monetize what they’re building on top of our platform and sharing in that revenue.”
This part is great but rather than making money say per API call Toni thinks that Yahoo they should get a cut of the revenue that a developer using their APIs gets.
Chris – "Isn’t that a good thing then if they pay you per API call because then you participate in the value that you’ve created?
Toni – "Yes except it would be better if it was free for them as well to use the API. ...But then we share in the revenue so that if someone makes tons of money then we get a cut of that.”
As an entrepreneur this makes me intensely uncomfortable.
I would like to have an easy pricing model so that I know what it costs me to get access to the data and functionality. I don’t want to give up a percentage of revenue if I get successful because that ends up potentially being very expensive to me. It’s harder for me to evaluate a build vs. buy decision at that point.
I think that what this will really lead to is people using the Yahoo APIs initially and then dumping them once they get traction because it will no longer be cost effective to use them on a rev share basis.
Yahoo and Google functionality and data mixing
Chris – “Let me ask you the hard question. If I want to do something commercial that had both Google functionality and Yahoo functionality and data would you say yes or no?”
Toni – “We say yes as long as it meets our criteria… I’m not sure what would happen if Yahoo says yes you can do it but you need to serve our ads and Google says the same thing”
This was a telling question. I was a little surprised to be honest that Yahoo was so open about letting their APIs and data be mixed in with Google APIs and data. I think that the rubber has yet to really hit the road though. There hasn’t been an example of this conflict crop up yet but it’s coming.
What does he wish people would build?
Toni - “If I can point to one area it’s mobile… Most of the apps we’re seeing are web apps which is great but I wish people would build more mobile apps.”
I think that the mobile space is getting hotter and Toni’s comments here reflect that. There’s a lot of open territory to use APIs and webservices to make mobile experiences great. So if you want to build something to flip maybe this is an area to look at! ;)
How much do you look at other developer networks? What works and doesn’t work?
Toni - “It’s been useful to see what guys like Ebay and Amazon have done… First thing that I did was hire Jeffery McManus who ran EBay’s developer program.”
Nice! I bet that anyone who is or has been in developer relations is in high demand now.
Toni - “Our goal is to make it as simple and easy for people to get into the system without just making it complete free for all and causing a bunch of risks… We can look at some of the things they’ve done that have been too restrictive… built these artificial hurdles out of fear of what are these people going to do.”
This totally makes sense as a philosophy. Let developer play as much as possible without restricting them. Who knows what cool stuff people will come up with?
Toni - “Amazon released stats that said 85% of usage is on REST, 85% of support load is on SOAP. We decided to go on REST. Flickr had similar statistics.”
Very interesting stuff here for folks who are thinking of releasing APIs. REST seems to be the way to go.
How will Yahoo handle competing with developers that use their APIs?
Toni - “We certainly hopefully will never steal someone’s idea… If we see something we like we’ll approach developers and say hey do you want to come work for us?...We haven’t seen something where somebody has built a product that we’re in the process of building and there’s a natural conflict there.”
This is always a tough line to walk. I think that the reality is that no company, Yahoo, Google or Microsoft will be able to do everything. There will always be room for entrepreneurs to create valuable things. There’s just always the risk that they see it and do it anyways. You run this risk whether you use their APIs or not.
What is the roadmap for Yahoo Developer Network?
Toni - “Fairly soon, next 3 weeks we’ll talk more about where this is going. Focus right now is on opening up internal APIs.”
Looks like people should be expecting some news from Yahoo soon!
Toni - “The next set of services on the roadmap are going move more towards content that we aggregate and personal content. We do this today with Flickr… this is where I personally think a lot of interesting applications start to happen.”
This ties very nicely into the talk that Terry Semel gave at
Web 2.0. I think that this is a huge advantage that Yahoo will have over anyone
else. They have a ton of content that no one else has.
Toni - “Our goal is over time to open up everything that makes sense. Always within reason protecting security, privacy and third party content rights. This is a major initiative for the company.”
like the race is definitely on to get the APIs out there. It will be
interesting to check back in and see the progress that will be made.
Looks like the race is definitely on to get the APIs out there. It will be interesting to check back in and see the progress that will be made.
Web 2.0 real or hype? What is Web 2.0?
Toni - “The idea that web based products are no longer web pages that are developed in a vacuum... that was the web 1.0 model… Web 2.0 changes that model, you are no longer putting out web pages that live in your own little silo, you are putting out web services that go out all over the web in different forms and shades… We’ll see tens and hundreds of thousands, millions of web applications that show up on the web or mobile that tap into those services.”
Totally agree with Toni on this. This is real and it’s
0:21 - Toni Schneider Background/Oddpost Acquisition
1:12 - Why not run Yahoo mail? Why be VP of Developer Relations?
2:05 - What does it mean to be VP of Developer Relations?
2:55 - What is success for Yahoo Developer Network?
3:46 - How does this help Yahoo’s bottom line?
6:00 - Will there be a pricing model for the Yahoo APIs?
7:27 - Do you think it will always be an ad driven model?
8:29 - Isn’t pay per API a better way to do it?
9:09 - What’s the coolest example of Yahoo APIs in action?
11:36 - Is there something you wish people would go do?
12:42 - What about putting Yahoo data and Google data together?
13:29 - How much do you look at other developer networks? What works and doesn’t work?
14:27 - Are Ebay and Amazon the model to follow?
15:47 - How will Yahoo handle competing with developers that use their APIs?
17:48 - What is the roadmap for the Yahoo Developer Network?
20:24 - Web 2.0 real or hype? What is Web 2.0?
22:54 - Is there a question I didn’t ask you that I should have?