In 2010 Oracle sued Google over patent infringement regarding the use of 37 Java APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) when it developed the Android OS for smartphones. The latest of three lawsuits – following the original 2010 case and the 2012 appeal – just ended in favor of Google. Software developers, enterprise customers, users, and industry participants can all breathe a sigh of relief. Assuming this verdict sticks it will reinforce current business practices around APIs, and in the process help the API-fueled growth of startups and others developing APIs for new business and consumer applications to continue.
Unfortunately most strategic alliances fall short of their goals, often failing completely. Yet this type of arrangement can be critical to the success of young startups, fast-growing ‘tweeners, as well as established giants. How can smaller companies – the Pigs in our metaphor – avoid the treacherous pitfalls and dramatically increase their chances of success when they engage in critical growth initiatives with larger organizations?