on January 20, 2015
by L. H. Garber
The cloud as a frontier, who's at the helm, and where the market is going
Penny Pipe is the stuff of science fiction. Five years ago, initialisms and phrases like “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs) and “cloud integration” were reserved for the research labs of tech companies, grad students’ dissertations, and your geeky niece’s basement or garage. Judging market growth, she probably lives in a nice condo now.
As much as some of you nag (jk, we love you), we get excited to hear from customers who know their data and what they want to do with it. You should know that you’re the folks at the helm with us, staring out at the frontier.
The big man in the sky is a developer (and also a woman, so thbbbppppt)
We’re not being dramatic. Between June 2005 and October 2013, the number of web APIs went from 1 to 10,302. By 2014, we were valuing mobile apps like MyFitnessPal and Slack by how well they connected with other apps via APIs. And here you are on Penny Pipe, hoping to integrate Stripe with QuickBooks and reading poorly mediocre blog posts trying to compare the cloud to a space western.
The cloudscape and governing laws change constantly because developers are creating new functionality and enabling (or disabling) the sharing of data. Big players like Intuit, Stripe, and Facebook streamline and change their APIs because why not? Developers with their not-so-invisible hands control the growth and direction of cloud integrations and thereby the market. Some developers may never add certain API features because they want to restrict functionality.
As much as we love being all bootstrappy, this kind of imposed limitation affects startups like PennyPipe. We need the big players to build their APIs. Only then can Andy, our faithful developer, and add certain features for you, the paying customer. They’ve struck gold, and they’re the ones paving the roads for the rush. But the nature of the market is more biddable than you think.
Go annoy QuickBooks right now
Developers are neither trained dolphins nor merciless overlords. They’re still trying to figure it out and occasionally they walk out of bathrooms with toilet paper stuck to their shoes and don't realize it until their bosses harangue them. It’s true there are foreseeable issues with privacy and security with the cloud. But when something works, it sticks. As of the writing of this post, Skyhigh Networks asserts that the average company uses 831 cloud services. Clearly, somebody is doing something right. But all those data are doing no good if they’re not talking to each other.
That’s where we come in: developers and customers, supply and demand. That much is familiar to the old territory. Customer knowledge and expectations—which, frankly, some of you are quite vocal about—keep us honest and not making paying sheep of all of you. You call us with great ideas for integrations we’ve never thought of for jobs we couldn’t have anticipated. This realm of customer-led innovation isn’t limited to small business, or at least it shouldn’t be.
The sky might be getting crowded, but there’s room for anyone to join the fray. API documentation is public knowledge in most cases. Your brain might turn to jam before you figure out what to do with all the data, but you can search “Stripe API” and get an intimidating list of things developers can do with them. Knowing that much, anyone can poke these big companies enough that, if they’re good companies, they’ll listen. On the frontier, the companies that aren’t good get voted out with the dollar. If you’re a sales rep who needs solutions, talk to developers. Call Stripe or add your idea to the QuickBooks feature request forum. Go tell them to build their damn APIs so we’re not sitting around twiddling our thumbs.
Customers have a great deal of influence—for now. Once the pavement dries, that may change. Use your voice or lose it, friends.
PennyPipe is a service that connect Stripe data to QuickBooks Online including charges, refunds, and fees. We offer a 7 day free trial with no credit card required. Reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions.