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Embarassingly Gushing Praise for TechCrunch And The New CrunchBase API

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on July 16, 2008 3 Comments

For those that are nauseated or otherwise troubled by gushing praise of tech blogs, please click away now.  I will not be offended.

I'm an avid reader of the TechCrunch blog.  In their own words, it's a blog "dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies."  If you're in the startup world, and aren't reading it, you probably should if for no other reason than the fact that your peers are reading it, and it'll get cited often.  It's uncomfortable when I hear someone at the office say "Hey, did you read that article in TechCrunch about..." and because I've been stuck in meetings for 2 hours and am too polite to read blogs on my Blackberry during meetings, I have to say, "no...umm...I've been in meetings for the last 2 hours". 

Anyways, you get the message.  I heart TechCrunch.

Now, fast forward a bit, and lets talk about CrunchBase.  CrunchBase is a user-editable structured database about companies, people and products in the tech world.  It's a great complement to TechCrunch.  The site is well thought out, gets the job done and actually has a pretty good data set.  It's useful.

On to the news that drove this article.  The nice folks at TechCrunch just released an API for CrunchBase.  I'm an API kind of guy.  As the developer of the reasonably popular Website Grader, a free website analysis tool, I am always on the lookout for new data I can feed into the Website Grader algorithm to make it even more useful.  The CrunchBase API is likely going to fit the bill.

So, here are the reasons I l am bestowing about TechCrunch the embarrassingly gushing praise:

Reasons I Love The CrunchBase API:

1.  Simple Invocation:  Invoking the API is simply a matter of accessing a URL containing the company or product in question.

For example: http://api.crunchbase.com/v/1/company/hubspot.js

2.  Simple Output:  The data comes back in JSON format. This is great for use within Javascript, but even for other languages (PHP, Java, C#, etc.), it's relatively trivial to take the JSON output and convert it into some other format.  One tip for the TechCrunch folks would be to add a parameter to the API URLs to request output in different formats (like XML).  But, no biggie.

3.  No Registration, No Limits:  In an uncommon show of cluefulness, the nice folks at TechCrunch have made it supremely easy to get started.  You don't have to register, request access to an API key or developer account, and there are currently no governors or limits on consumption.  That's pretty cool.  Gutsy, but cool.

4.  Communication:  To top off all of this awesomeness, the TC folks have really gone out of their way to accept input from the community regarding the API.  The blog article announcing the API has 59 comments right now.  14 of them are responses from the TC folks -- including Michael Arrington himself.  TC also setup a Twitter account.  I "followed" them, send out a tweet and was immediately tweeted back with a response to an idea I had for improving the API.

Having said all that, the one critical feature I think they need to add is better search through the API.  But, they've already said they're looking into that.  

So, with all that I'd like to congratulate Michael and his team at TechCrunch for an awfully with-it approach to their business.  For those of you that I'm gushing like a teenager with a crush -- you were warned.

If you're a web developer and have an idea for building something cool on top of the CrunchBase API, drop me a line.  I'd consider funding it and contributing it back to the community.