API Business Models

The 2020 API Industry Landscape


The API Industry Landscape is an attempt to gather all the companies that make up the API Industry that is enabling the API economy.

We are calling the API economy every value exchange that is created or enabled through the exposition of an API to another, internally or internally.

Most of these companies are API tooling companies as their main role is to help others achieve their API-driven business model. 

The landscape is categorized in different sections and subsections to help decision-makers understand the current ecosystem and identify the featured companies, either for benchmarking or implementation purposes.

API Lifecycle Management Tooling

This is the core section of the landscape. It includes all the products and companies identified to support API practitioners to design, document, mock, develop, test, deploy, secure, monitor, stream and promotes APIs.

Some companies in this section are present in many subsections as their product has evolved over time to include more and more API lifecycle management features.

The subsections themselves have also evolved, thanks to the spread of API description formats (Open API Specifications, RAML and API Blueprint) that are implemented in most of the companies’ API teams and are able to automate large portions of the API Lifecycle.

API Aggregation and Integration Tooling

In terms of API aggregation and integration, we have identified 2 types.

The first one is identified as API Vertical Abstractions. API vertical abstraction represents every platform that takes a specific industry or value proposition and abstract them into one API. For instance, if you gather all the APIs for cloud storage into one API abstraction or bring together all delivery APIs into one API abstraction, you would fit into this category. This first type also has different subsections that represent the different verticals addressed by the industry.

Second is what we referred to as API Horizontal Abstractions or, as the analysts call them, the Integration Platform-as-as-service (IPaas). These platforms help organizations integrate horizontally many different APIs, for different sectors and different industries. They want to be the one-stop-shop for 3rd party APIs integration. 


GraphQL/Backend-as-a-service/Mobile Backends

In this section, we have gathered all the backend tools, mobile backend tools and graphQL tools to host data and deliver them to other applications via APIs.

The first section consists of the backend tools to power applications and mobile backend tools to explicitly deliver to mobile applications.

A growing section of the landscape is the GraphQL tooling, with GraphQL Backends that support and power GraphQL APIs. This part will be growing fast in the next few months while the tooling landscape for graphQL is booming.


Business Process-as-a-service and API-as-products

This section comprises companies providing APIs to execute a whole business process, an IT process or a technology service. We gathered product or business processes where the distribution via APIs is significant enough in the business model of the company that it can be identified as an API-first product or an API-as-a-product. 

We then split this section into different sub-sections, each one representing a category of business processes and sectors – communication, eCommerce, payment, emailing, voice, search engines, human resources, etc.

In this section, we have gathered companies providing APIs to execute a whole business process, an IT process or a technology service. We have put in this section product or business processes where the distribution via APIs is significant in the business model of the company to be identified as an API-first product or API-as-a-product.

This landscape is a living organism. It evolves as new companies form or existing ones deploy new solutions. By its very nature is the result of some level of subjective choices. If you think a company is missing or a sub-section should be added to it, please reach out to us – events@apidays.io or fill out this short form
Mehdi Medjaoui
Mehdi Medjaoui is the founder of the worldwide apidays conferences series he started in 2012 in Paris. Mehdi is highly involved in the API community and API Industry, as author, lecturer, consultant and investor in the API tooling space. His industry research involves publishing and maintaining the API Industry Landscape and the yearly State of Banking APIs. In 2018, he publishes as co-author "Continuous API management" (O’Reilly) and begins as lecturer and invited professor at HEC MBA and EMLyon Executive MBA. In 2019, Mehdi become H2020 European Commission expert to lead the APIS4Dgov study on public sector and government APIs. As entrepreneur, Mehdi co-founded in 2014 OAuth.io, an API middleware for OAuth intégration used by 40,000+ developers that has been acquired in 2017. Mehdi’s new venture GDPR.dev develops a Personal data API framework and protocol to democratize data regulations usage for mass users and compliance for applications developers, making GDPR programmable.

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