I saw this tweet today and it reminded about something I realized quite a long time ago about online companies and knowledge revenue.
If you are an online service and you are gathering user information, or even information about how people interact with your service, there will always be the possibility to monetize that (assuming you have your privacy policies in place).
That means that, in theory, every online company has the potential to create a knowledge revenue stream simply by creating a relevant API for 3rd parties to access.
The Value in Community
The beauty about using API’s is that it allows 3rd parties to start building a community around it; by building apps, mashups with other services, creating extensions for the core product, etc etc. Oh, and not to mention the benefit of having the 3rd parties drive business to your company – because it will benefit them and your company.
Take WooCommerce for example (this example is close to home for me, working for WooThemes) – the core product is free, WooThemes makes no money from it, but the beautiful thing about WooCommerce is how it has been developed; it allows you as a developer to “extend” it by building plugins that add or modify the way it works. And that has helped grow a very large ecosystem around it.
Knowledge Revenue is Gold
So, in summing up…Twitter & Facebook…are pretty much like Google (on a lesser scale) as they are all actually mining information. They aren’t just a web app, they are semi-intelligent data miners, and that information is gold.
And just like a gold mine, not only are they listed on the stock exchange, but you can expect to pay for that knowledge/gold in the future, and in turn making them a lot of money.