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daily articles for founders

Platform dependencies  

A well argued post, making a point that bears repeating:

But even as the risks of dependencies become better understood by startups and investors, the ascent of Facebook and Twitter seem to point to an ever increasing number of startups with significant business dependencies. Recent changes to both Facebook and Twitter show that neither startups nor their investors can assume much when it comes to support for a given API in the future. Today, even the OS seems subject to dramatic shifts in record time. One only need look to Apple’s iOS to see how dramatic and unpredictable developments can change the landscape for startups, customers and investors.

(...)

So in the future it will likely be that the most successful startups will be those which are best able to navigate the minefield of platform dependencies. And while the benefits of platforms like iOS, Facebook and Twitter are significant to reduce development costs and increase access to customers, one can’t help but lament the squashing of the promise we got with our first browsers: a world where startups and the behemoths of industry alike fought on more or less equal terms. But increasingly it is once again becoming a platform world. And the companies who control the platforms, controls the profits.

It is certain that managing critical business dependencies needs to be a fundamental part of managing startup risk. If you critically depend on a single-vendor platform like iOS, Twitter, Facebook, or even Flex or Silverlight (and now Java?), what's your backup plan if that platform turns hostile?

Those who are in it as single developers can just cut their losses and jump to the next thing, but funded startups who have invested millions of dollars into a business that relies on a platform must plan more carefully.

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