Lucent buys ProgrammableWeb.com

Just when you thought there was no money to be made in the mashup space (with major players exiting left and right) along comes this rather surprising news story (full PRNewsWire link).

Alcatel-Lucent Acquires Leading Web 2.0 API Repository ProgrammableWeb
“Alcatel-Lucent today announced that it has acquired ProgrammableWeb, the technology industry’s universal source for Web APIs (application programming interfaces) used by application developers to build web, mobile, and other connected applications that serve consumers and the workplace.”

I know John Musser, founder of ProgrammableWeb.com as a result of our mutual interest in mashups, our joint membership in the New York CTO Club, and from having written/collaborated on a few articles (also here and here) for PW back when my book was released. He’s a great guy who has done a lot for this new paradigm. I personally have used PW’s API and News RSS feeds to provide content for this site from its inception. John is apparently staying onboard to “continue to oversee the repository’s operation”; I hope is able to keep the site independent and objective with its new corporate oversight and structure.

So, it’s great to see some money being made in the mashup space, but I have to admit my first reaction  was, “Lucent?!?!”. Let’s face it, it’s not like they’ve even established a toe-hold in the mashup space when you consider what major players like IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle have done (and in some cases, un-done). Why would Lucent suddenly enter the space in what seems like such an unconventional manner: Buying a mashup directory instead of new tools or services?

The press release gives us a window into their thinking:
“If you look at any organization that launches an API, you quickly realize that the one thing the most successful APIs have in common is a vibrant developer ecosystem,” said Laura Merling, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent’s global developer strategy. “Our goal is to protect the uniqueness and independence of ProgrammableWeb as an API repository and developer resource, while adding beneficial technologies and service provider relationships to the mix for everyone’s benefit.”

It seems that Lucent also was attempting to build a PW competitor of sorts with it’s Open API Service. Acquiring PW and its resources is a great way for them to build our their API repository by leveraging the work already done by John and his team.

Thinking about this deal, I can’t help but recall what Yahoo! looked like in the mid 90’s.
Back then, Yahoo was a simpler place, dedicated mostly to web-search against an index that was almost entirely hand-assembled. If any of us had the chance to acquire Yahoo! back then at a reasonable price (I have no idea what Lucent paid for PW, btw) wouldn’t we have jumped at the chance?

Fast-forward to 2010, and PW today is to mashups and APIs what Yahoo was 15 years ago to search. Lucent is clearly betting that API directories will experience some similar level of growth, and in this acquistion they saw a key opportunity for  getting in on the ground floor.

In the Search arena, we eventually saw many of the dominant players ousted and new giants emerge. Will we see the same in the mashup directory space? ProgrammableWeb only has about 2000 APIs in its directory. And like Yahoo!’s, it is a directory that is largely manually assembled. It’s logical to assume someone will eventually figure out how to automatically assemble similar content (perhaps using mashups!)

Will Lucent be able to keep ProgrammableWeb from suffering a decline like Yahoo’s? If the answer is “Yes”, PW could become the next Google when it comes to APIs and mashups.

Leave a Reply

  • OneSignal
    The OneSignal REST API allows developers to access the functionality of OneSignal for integration with other websites and applications. Some example API methods include managing push notifications, managing account information, and sending push notifications. OneSignal is a push notification service for mobile and web applications and websites. OneSignal also offers a variety of SDKs. Date […]
  • MapmyIndia Routing
    The MapmyIndia REST Routing API allows developers to access the route functionality of MapmyIndia for integration with other applications and websites. The main API method is calculating and retrieving route information based on addresses and points of interest in India. MapmyIndia provides mapping solutions, tracking solutions, and GPS and GIS services for India. Date Updated: […]
  • MapmyIndia Geocoding
    The MapmyIndia REST Geocoding API allows developers to access the geocoding functionality of MapmyIndia for integration with other applications and websites. The main API method is retrieving geocoding information for addresses and points of interest in India. MapmyIndia provides mapping solutions, tracking solutions, and GPS and GIS services for India. Date Updated: 2015-04-27 Tags: [field_primary_category], […]
  • MapmyIndia Reverse Geocoding
    The MapmyIndia REST Reverse Geocoding API allows developers to access the geocoding functionality of MapmyIndia for integration with other applications and websites. The main API method is retrieving addresses and other information from posting geocoding coordinates in India. MapmyIndia provides mapping solutions, tracking solutions, and GPS and GIS services for India. Date Updated: 2015-04-27 Tags: […]
  • Babelfly
    The Babelfly API in both HTTP and Java provide developers access to the functionality of Babelfly for integration with other websites and applications. The main API method is disambiguating text by uploading text and retrieving the disambiguation result. Babelfly is a multi-lingual text disambiguation service that provides sentiment and disambiguation of text. Date Updated: 2015-04-27 […]
  • VineOS Currency Conversion
    The VineOS Currency Conversion API from Vine Global converts over 165 currencies. The API uses JSON over HTTP and authenticates via API Key. Currency rates are updated every hour, and the API is free and open to the public to use. See the API documentation for API request definitions and code samples. Date Updated: 2015-04-27 […]
  • VineOS Product Catalog Import
    Use VineOS's Product Catalog Import API to facilitate your international e-commerce business. The API uses JSON over HTTP and authenticates via API Key. Use the API to upload your CSV supported product catalog to a VineOS platform and have Harmonized System Codes and duty rates assigned to SKUs in the catalog. VineOS's tools connect to […]
  • BoldChat REST
    The BoldChat REST API, by LogMeIn, reveals to developers BoldChat functionalities and chat event data to other systems, such as CRM or Ticketing integration software that implements bidirectional JSON REST API calls. In addition, with the BoldChat REST API, the Data Extraction and Reporting methods allow developers to export data into external systems for analysis […]
  • Fleetio
    The Fleetio REST API allows developers to access the functionality of Fleetio for integration with other applications for fleet management needs. Some example API methods include retrieving vehicle information, retrieving and managing fuel information, and managing work orders. Fleetio is a fleet management system that allows customers to manage their vehicles and equipment. Date Updated: […]
  • Myfox
    The Myfox API allows developers to integrate their apps and devices with Myfox's home surveillance and security products. The API uses basic HTTP POST/GET methods with responses in JSON, and authenticates using OAuth2. After setting up a developer account users will have access to Myfox data and can begin building their apps in the programming […]