• Startup Wicket Labs Solves API Issues to Enhance Video Experiences

    With online video increasingly becoming about long-form programming, viewers expect a flawless experience comparable to TV. But one of the complicating factors is that many content providers use application programming interfaces (APIs) from third-party vendors to enable multiple aspects of their experience whether online, mobile web or via apps. These could include APIs for analytics, ad serving, content management, video management, storage, CDN, etc.

    While APIs enrich and enable the experience, when they fail or suffer degraded performance, the viewer is impacted and the content provider’s brand and business model suffer. Failures or reduced performance can happen for all kinds of reasons: new releases, insufficient testing, custom implementations, under capacity during peak load times, etc. Worse, given their lean staffs, content providers often don’t even know about failures, until viewers have surfaced them (many of us have no doubt been in this role, for example, tweeting about real-time problems).

    To address these issues, startup Wicket Labs monitors APIs to improve their consistency and provide a proactive window into their performance. Wicket was started by Marty Roberts, formerly co-CEO of thePlatform, one of the leading online video platform companies. To get a sense of how pervasive APIs are in the video industry, Marty told me in a briefing that thePlatform was making 18 billion API calls per month for its clients. Wicket’s research found that for 50 different content providers, they had each integrated an average of 14 APIs.

    Wicket creates an API map for all of the content provider’s APIs which it calls a Wicket. The Wickets are emulating actual API calls but outside the live production flow. Wickets are in turn collected into a Wicket Scorecard dashboard, which detects issues and alerts the content provider’s staff. Performance is categorized as “Good Wickets” (all is fine, history is displayed), “Notable Wickets” (API changes not expected to cause problems) and “Problem Wickets” (issues identified and escalated).

    Marty said that in trialing with multiple broadcast and cable TV properties, they’ve found an average of one problem per week per API. Mostly these have been performance problems, with APIs slowing down during specific time periods.

    Wicket offers its service in 3 levels: Free, which includes 3 Wickets, “Club-level” for $500/month which includes 5 wickets and “League” which includes 20 or more Wickets and is custom priced.

    Wicket has 6 employees currently and is self-funded.