Why We Went Open

A recent podcast I did with Mashable’s Mark “Rizz’n” Hopkins went up on their site last evening. For anyone curious about the business context and results associated with going open, it should be a good listen. In it, I assert that “walled gardens are heading for the same scrap heap Compuserve and Prodigy ended up on”. Listen to it here.

3 thoughts on “Why We Went Open

  1. Johnny Fry says:

    Plaxo doesn’t seem very open to me? Looking at the TOS of the web-based API it explicitly forbids anyone to use the API for commercial services. So if I wanted to write a Plaxo competitor that added more value than Plaxo, I could not use Plaxo’s API to siphon off a Plaxo user’s contact list.

    How is that open? How is that any different than every wall garden out there? The only difference between Plaxo and, say, Facebook is Plaxo’s wall is a legal one.

    I, and the rest of the internet, look forward to your response, John.

    -jf

  2. therealmccrea says:

    Hey, Johnny Fry,

    I agree that we can and should (and will) do more to open up from an API perspective. We have some APIs now that are open, and more are on the way.

    That said, we already have the Plaxo address book widget that is giving thousands of developers access to the crown jewels, with absolutely no concern as to whether such services are competitive. Case in point: Iminta.

    At a deep and fundamental level, we believe that the data and content of our users belongs to them, not to us, and that our service acts as a custodian of those bits.

    We have a number of things coming that will take open to the next level, especially for developers, like yourself.

  3. Johnny Fry says:

    The widget does not give developers to the crown jewels – it only provides access to email addresses, none of the other content.

    So the title of this post is deceitful. I’m assuming by “we” you mean Plaxo. Plaxo *wants* to go open, Plaxo is *planning* on going open – but Plaxo is not open. Plaxo never “went open”.

    Here’s a million dollar question – if a commercial service scraped contact data out of Plaxo using the Sync API – what would Plaxo do? If a commercial service did to Plaxo what Plaxo did to Facebook, how would Plaxo respond?

    If Plaxo believed at a “deep and fundamental level” about data portability, why not delete the following clause out of the TOS “that you use the Plaxo Web APIs solely for your personal, non-commercial purposes”.? It’s a simple HTML change – should take 2 minutes?

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