Interview: Viralheat CEO Raj Kadam on API Growth

In this interview with Raj Kadam, CEO of Viralheat, we will discuss the growth of the company's API and the steps that were taken to reach this point. Their Sentiment API is now getting 300 million calls per week, and the free API allows users to classify text with regard to sentiment.

ProgrammableWeb- Could you share some detailed stats on the usage of your api in 2012? This is across the premium Mentions, Statistics and Profile and the free Sentiment API.

Viralheat- Viralheat has many APIs and we are committed to improving them in 2013. In 2012, we had about 30 billion calls over all our APIs. Our most popular API has been sentiment analysis. There is a real void in the industry when it comes to sentiment and it is very hard for developers to get a quality sentiment API. Our Sentiment API has been used in countless applications to give users new insights into data they are viewing.

PW- What motivated you to create the free Sentiment API? What is the basic technology for the way it works?

Viralheat- Viralheat customers early on really wanted sentiment analysis as part of our paid offering. Major brands really needed to slice and dice large amounts of data so they can quickly surface negative or positive mentions. In addition, they also used social media for customer service so they wanted to see how their sentiment was trending over time.

When we went into the market to license technology we were shocked at the price and lack of quality. Taking into account of our sheer data loads, we simply couldn't find a solution on the market that would work. So in 2009, we decided to build our own high scalable cluster to handle sentiment based on NLP technology.

PW- What are some of the things that you have changed in the API along the way?

Viralheat- The API has remained mostly the same since we launched it a few years back. However, one thing we have constantly had to deal with is load. We never expected the API to be this popular and we've had to add load balancers, more application nodes, and better networking infrastructure along the way to keep up with demand.

PW- Can you show or point to some case studies where you got feedback on how using your API led to significant business advantages in analytics for your clients.

Viralheat- I think my favorite example so far is a company called "Talk To the Manager". They added our sentiment APIs to really prioritize which support tickets should be dealt with first. Customers of this company, can really handle irate customers quicker and over time they have happy and more satisfied customers. It's a win all around.

PW- While your free API has both JSON and XML formats, the premium APIs have only XML format. Is this going to change? What is your opinion on the difference between the usage and advantages of these formats.

Viralheat- We're working on that. In 2013, we plan to launch a brand new version of our APIs that will respond in JSON and XML. We think JSON is the best solution if you had to compare the two and our customers prefer JSON as well.

PW-You have a signup form for your website. do you think you should have a social login button too ? What are some the things that prevent the same?

Viralheat- Completely! We are going to be adding social login buttons really soon. Stay tuned.

Be sure to read the next Best Practices article: Platform success strategies: Promote apps that are built with your API