“Breaking Changes” Episode 1 Recap: Shutterstock’s Alex Reynolds


In episode 1 of Breaking Changes—our weekly talk show where Postman Chief Evangelist Kin Lane hosts stellar guests from all across the API universe to discuss, debate, and solve the latest topics around APIs and API-first—Shutterstock VP/GM of Platform Solutions Alex Reynolds shares his expertise. This episode is titled “Transforming Business through APIs.”

The desire to connect applications, automate business workflows, and sync data is only growing. It’s no longer enough to just have an API, because an integration with other services has become a key driver directly impacting the ability to win customers, enhance user experience, and leapfrog the competition. Alex discusses how Shutterstock has successfully grown its own API program from a small proof of concept to a key component of its creative technology platform, and how it has impacted business.

You can tune in and subscribe to the entire Breaking Changes podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Amazon music, or watch it on YouTube.

Episode topics

  • How have APIs transformed business at Shutterstock?
  • What is the role of API management in a company’s operations?
  • What is the role of free tier and subscriptions when it comes to APIs?
  • How do you build a partnership-driven API ecosystem to drive growth and create new opportunities?

Episode highlights

Here are just some of the key insights from the lively discussion.

Integrating APIs with partner platforms to enable seamless workflows and create win-win-win partnerships:

  • Alex talks about Shutterstock’s journey of integrating APIs from 100 to 8,000 partners across martech platforms, ad exchanges, and print-on-demand companies. He shares: “By embedding our experience, our search, our preview, our license directly within these other platforms, we’re arming all of the users of those platforms—hundreds of millions of users—with the building blocks for the projects that they need. And ultimately, that ends up being a win for all parties.”

How APIs (like the Shutterstock APIs) help businesses drive value:

  • Learn how the API economy empowers the building blocks of businesses to work together and let people accomplish new workflows. In addition to providing content, the Shutterstock API helps users make informed decisions about what content to use in order to drive higher campaign completion rates and performance rates. This provides a better experience, which is going to make for a more loyal customer and user.
  • Alex shares: “We have over 300 million images on our platform, which is massive, but at the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right image. They don’t need 300 million images at any given time—they need the right image in that moment to achieve the outcomes that they care about. So the smarter we can be about helping people find the right content, and the more powerful the outcomes we unlock, it really is a force-multiplier for us in terms of the value that we’re driving.”

API management and the role of free tier and subscription with the Shutterstock APIs:

  • Alex, who thinks of API management as “the visibility layer,” briefly covers Shutterstock’s journey from identifying an “aha moment” to providing value to users with minimal friction and understanding the user intent to help them grow.
  • Kin shares: “One key aspect of API management for the last decades has been the freemium tier, being able to craft different API levels and provide access tiers for different types of consumers to kick the tires and understand what’s possible. Because opening up a free tier means you’re opening up that visibility that you guys have into people’s workflows, letting them figure things out…I always try to convince folks that API management is about understanding value-exchange that’s occurring, and this is something that requires more empathy.”

Watch the full episode

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