Motley Fool: Building the World's Greatest Investment Community with APIs
Founded in 1993, Motley Fool is a multimedia financial services company providing solutions for investors through a variety of stock, investment, and personal finance products. The company employs more than 300 people.
Challenges and opportunities
For years, Motley Fool maintained a technical monoculture, with all services written in .NET and C#. In 2012, however, the company landed its biggest deal yet—the opportunity to post real-time stock data on sites owned by AOL. Eager to capitalize on that partnership, the Motley Fool team refocused its entire technical architecture to enable easy data sharing through the exposure of APIs.
Since then, the company has unified its systems to create a common repository of web services, gradually branching out to a wide range platforms and languages including Python, Django, and PHP.
“For us, it’s all about simplicity,” says Mark Kennedy, enterprise architect at Motley Fool. “If a team decides that they need an API, they should be able to build it and launch it on the same day.”
In most cases, Motley Fool creates an API whenever one team needs data that exists in another team’s domain. These APIs are mostly for internal use, but some are public-facing or intended for partners.
For example, CAPS, a community simulator for stock analysts, features a public-facing API so that members can dig deeper into their personal statistics, discover new investing ideas, and find similar investors to follow. Motley Fool’s growing API library also includes a white-label stock-quoting service for partners, making investment data easily available to websites around the world.
At first, Motley Fool worked with Apigee to launch any new API—but that changed after migrating to a newer version of the Apigee API platform.
“The latest version of Apigee is more geared toward self-service, and that’s exactly what we needed,” says Kennedy. “Now we can be more agile than ever.”
By making core business services available through APIs, Motley Fool has expanded the possibilities for making platform decisions far beyond its legacy .NET stack. This grants team members the flexibility to select the right platform for the job at hand.
Going forward, team members hope to use APIs more consistently across more applications, Kennedy says.
“We recently deployed a web application to Amazon Web Services using Apigee,” he says. “The app has a clean UI logic and a very appealing architecture. As far as I’m concerned, that should be the new standard for every project going forward.”