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Vratislav Kopp for Superface

Posted on • Originally published at superface.ai

Let's stop wasting time

I've known our founder Zdeněk for almost 20 years now. He probably won’t remember, but there is one particular conversation that strongly affected my decision to join Superface years after it had happened.

It must have been around 2012. Zdeněk had just resigned from his job, likely not knowing he would join Apiary a couple of months later, changing the course of his career and ultimately leading to Superface being born. We were standing in front of a bar in Prague, and he was telling me how a whole generation of the most brilliant brains gets wasted. People become software engineers and designers to change the world, only to spend careers in meaningless corporate jobs, doing repetitive work, building software nobody needs.

This strongly resonated with me. I don't claim to possess a brilliant brain, but I’ve always looked for meaning in my work. Apparently, I was looking in all the wrong places.

Tried corporate, was bored, worked in agencies and founded one, burnt out, took a break to gain energy, joined a startup, ran out of money, found a secure job, was bored again. I worked on countless projects the world could do without, and wanted to break the cycle.

Then Zdeněk approached me with the idea behind Superface. At first, I thought, nah. A developer tool to make nerds nerdier. Whatever. But then, after a couple of days, the scene from 2012 came back to me.

In 2020, when we had just embarked on the Superface journey, the estimated cost of API work was 80 billion USD. That's 1.5x the cost of getting the mankind to Mars.

Convert it to developer hours, and you’ll see we're talking about thousands of people spending their best years making machines talk to each other by integrating APIs and maintaining the connections. A big part of the wasted time Zdeněk was talking about.

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Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

I’m not a developer myself, but I do have my share of experience with APIs. Once, I was a part of a project where the company responsible for backend development almost went bankrupt, and several people resigned solely because they underestimated how tough it would be to integrate with the main vendor’s API. I have quite a few stories like this, unfortunately.

Integrating the same APIs over and over again and trying to figure out how to integrate new ones usually ate up a serious part of the budget. When I worked at agencies, the development time we sold to do API integrations was an important part of our income. But constantly reinventing the wheel would inevitably start to feel like a waste of time and potential for both our developers and clients.

Realizing all this, I knew I had to join Superface.

Think about how most of the new products and services are built. To create anything today, we have to make machines talk to each other. A new product is usually a new node of added value that can only function when connected to a couple of other such nodes. This is made possible by integrating a bunch of APIs. If we consider a typical commercial service of today, we typically have to implement some payments, communication capabilities, user administration, etc. Many ideas never see the light only because of the cost and expertise necessary to do all the integrations. If we manage to make machines do the hard work and ultimately discover and integrate digital capabilities autonomously, it's going to be big.

We’re on a difficult journey, but what we do is important. Superface is not an intellectual exercise to prove that our architectural pattern is superior to others. We're in it to free people’s hands and minds to do creative work. We believe that enabling more connections between digital capabilities and having machines to handle the tedious stuff can speed up the evolution of mankind.

I wrote this post mainly for my friends, who would never guess I’d go build something for developers and now see me all fired up about APIs. If you happen to be a developer who sometimes has to deal with integrating APIs, I suggest checking out our GitHub and docs. If you’re not technical but are wondering how your organization can benefit from using Superface, hit me at v@superface.ai to talk more.

Discussion (2)

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Martin Muller

Nice and inspiring article but it lacks a bit in explaining and empathie like for people who are afraid to take such "risks"

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Vratislav Kopp Author

Thanks for reading and for your comment, Martin. To be honest, the angle you mention has never occurred to me when writing. For me, this was an easy transition, as I was joining friends I have known and trusted for years. As for taking risks, I'll turn 40 this year and have family, so stability is definitely important for me. On the other hand, my share of frustrating work experience helped me realize that seeing meaning in what I do together with freedom at work outweighs almost anything else when choosing my employer.