Punctuated Equilibrium, Celestial Navigation, and APIs: Lessons from Netflix and NPR

Sam Ramji (Cloud Foundry Foundation), Michael Hart (Netflix), Daniel Jacobson (Netflix)
Presentation: external link
Average rating: ***..
(3.75, 12 ratings)

In evolutionary theory, punctuated equilibrium refers to a period of significant environmental stress resulting in rapid, dramatic changes among species. It is a powerful model for understanding the changes in technology, business models and data over the last few decades – changes that have given rise to the age of APIs.

In this talk, Daniel Jacobson (head of API engineering, Netflix; formerly NPR); Michael Hart (head of social engineering, Netflix) and Sam Ramji (VP of Strategy, Apigee) will present on how to succeed with APIs in this time of punctuated equilibrium- examining three key themes in the API economy:

  • The Evolution of Business Models: From 1st Party to Partner to Platform
  • The Evolution of Architecture: From Mainframe to Mobile
  • The Evolution of Data: From Silos to Social

Attendees will walk away from the talk with an actionable strategic framework and best practices for winning the market with APIs, including creating developer and partner success, diversifying the core, getting to mobile, exposing the right functionalities and gaining adoption.

Photo of Sam Ramji

Sam Ramji

Cloud Foundry Foundation

Sam Ramji brings over 15 years of industry experience in enterprise software, product development, and open source strategy. Prior to Apigee, Ramji led open source strategy across Microsoft. He was a founding member of the AquaLogic product team and has built large-scale enterprise and Web-scale applications, leading the Ofoto engineering team through its acquisition by Kodak. Other experience includes hands-on development of client, client-server and distributed applications on Unix, Windows and Macintosh at companies ranging from Broderbund to Fair Isaac. Sam holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cognitive Science from the University of California at San Diego, and is a member of the Institute for Generative Leadership.

Photo of Michael Hart

Michael Hart


Michael Hart is the engineering director at Netflix making the service more social. He also led the team that created the Netflix API, which today supports over a hundred Netflix-branded applications on game consoles, TV and mobile devices.

Prior to Netflix, Michael was a product unit manager with Microsoft and an architect with Accenture. Throughout his career, his focus has been on accelerating the pace of innovation in service businesses with supercharged service and software platforms.

Photo of Daniel Jacobson

Daniel Jacobson


Daniel Jacobson is the Director of Engineering for the API at Netflix, responsible for delivering Netflix content to hundreds of devices. Prior to Netflix, he was Director of Application Development at NPR, leading the development of NPR’s custom content management system. He also created NPR’s API which became the distribution channel for getting NPR content to mobile platforms, member station sites throughout the country as well as to the public developer community. Daniel also co-authored the O’Reilly book, “APIs: A Strategy Guide.”

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Picture of Raven Zachary
Raven Zachary
03/31/2011 2:54am PDT

I thought Sam’s storytelling of the early days of sea navigation was a great analogy for understanding the age of APIs. I’ve seen Sam speak on a number of occasions over multiple careers, and he’s always been engaging, informative, and dynamic. This was no exception.

Michael and Daniel at Netflix did a great job at providing specific examples, and providing the pragmatic counterpoint to Sam’s more abstract and over-arching talk on the topic.

I recommend that people read more about punctuated equilibrium – a fascinating and relevant topic: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punct...

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