Interview with Oren Michels of Mashery

By on Jun 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Developing mobile applications is not an easy task and syndicating different content between different companies and services is even harder. This is typically handled by the use of API’s, short for application programming interface’s, that allows developers to interact with different types of software. A company by the name of Mashery manage these API’s so that media companies, retailers, and more can access and share information faster and easier.

I sat down with Mashery CEO, Oren Michels, to discuss the magic behind Mashery, their influence in the mobile application atmosphere, and what they have planned for the future.

Company Name: Mashery
Name: Oren Michels
Title: CEO
URL: http://www.mashery.com

Q: How do you think the iPhone and iPad has revolutionized the mobile phone industry?

The iPhone and iPad have revolutionized the mobile phone industry mostly because it is now all about apps. Due to the proliferation of custom-built apps that run on these platforms, we can develop better user experiences to take advantage of the enhanced capabilities of these devices.

Q: What separates your company from your competitors with mobile phone applications?

If you’re going to develop mobile phone applications, the table stakes are to first have an open API. Because of what Mashery provides, our customers are able to develop innovative mobile apps that offer better experiences while driving sales and building new revenue channels.

Mashery manages APIs – the software “secret sauce” that helps media companies, retailers, and others distribute their content throughout the digital universe. Mashery manages the infrastructure to facilitate relationships with our 50,000-strong network of Web and mobile application developers. Our knowledge, experience and proven strategies enable companies to focus on their core business and realize faster time-to-market for innovative applications.

Q: What is your company background, size (employees, developers, etc), and company inspirations?

Mashery leads the industry with a holistic approach for API initiatives. We set the platform strategy, support developer engagement, manage the infrastructure required to support a live API & all API traffic and measure business objectives. Essentially, we manage the heavy lifting required for supporting an API program so you can focus on the more interesting stuff- like running your business.

Mashery currently has 35 employees, and was founded in 2006. We have built an impressive list of clients that include Best Buy, Netflix, and the New York Times.

Q: How many applications has your company planned, developed, or created at any given time?

Mashery works with a network of 50,000 Web and mobile application developers and currently powers 10,000 applications.

Q: What do you think of the iPhone or iPad Operating System in comparison to other mobile platforms? Are Apple’s competitors finally producing a comparable product or has the iPhone or iPad already monopolized the niche market?

In terms of Apple’s competitors, Android is definitely coming on very strong – we’ve seen a lot going on with that platform. RIM and BlackBerry are also being leveraged, largely because their market penetration is so significant. We have not seen very much being developed on Windows Mobile or Palm.

Q: Is your company currently developing for other mobile platforms, if so, which ones and why?

Mashery powers apps for all kinds of connected devices, like the Xbox, Blu-ray devices etc. for example.

Q: Marketing an application can be a very difficult task. With so many applications being developed and released on a daily basis, capturing user attention in an App Store is challenging. What have you found to be an effective way to market your products to users?

The way to market an application effectively, is to make a great product from the start. The app store acts as a clear measurement tool as it tracks the rating and popularity of applications.

If the company offering the application has a significant presence already, it is important to market through the company’s Web site to reach all potential users.

Q: What is your favorite application?

Any app powered by Mashery. ☺

Q: What is your most popular application? Have you received any awards or achievements for that application?

Applications offered by Netflix and USA Today are among the most popular applications powered by Mashery.

A few Mashery customer examples include:
• Netflix uses its API program to give partners the ability to develop content that engages its consumer base off-site. For example, instantwatcher.com provides “Netflix for impatient people”, revealing the Netflix titles that are available for instant watching, neatly categorized and augmented with links to reviews at the New York Times (another Mashery customer) and Rotten Tomatoes. A third-party developer created SmartFlix, which has extended the reach of Netflix to the BlackBerry platform. There is even a dating site built around Netflix movie preferences.

• New York Times API enables a wide range of applications—everything from an article search application to real estate listings to campaign finance data sorted by geography through google maps. One application, Reading Radar, uses the Times Best Sellers API and Amazon.com’s data to create browsable New York Times best-seller lists, complete with images and links to further details.

• The Best Buy Remix API, maintained by Mashery, allows review sites and anyone else to incorporate product information and links to make purchases at BestBuy.com. At Best Buy, several technology developers are using Mashery as a gateway to access the API to the retailer’s online product database to develop new ways of getting Best Buy’s products before online consumers. One project has been working on a way for consumers to share audio files of product reviews through online communities.

• Mashery is now powering a new application from the Associated Press that gives fans 24X7 access to their favorite teams and World Cup happenings. Available in four languages with customizable skins for all 32 countries participating in the tournament, the AP app has proven to be successful and is already a very popular download on iTunes.

Thank you very much Oren Michels and Mashery for your time.

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