Start-Ups Juggle Platforms, Prioritization

Moves by major tech companies to open up to outside developers have been a boon for small start-ups. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Yahoo (YHOO), Apple (AAPL) and Intuit (INTU), to name a few, all allow developers to build software that hooks into their services.

But the cascade of companies opening up has created a new question for cash-conscious start-ups: which ones do you build for and which ones do you build for first?

“A lot of start-ups are wrestling with prioritizing their relatively scarce resources,” said Jim Hornthal, a partner at CMEA Capital and chairman of Triporati, a travel destination discovery service.

In the “not-too-distant past” companies could justify tackling most available platforms, said Hornthal, who founded online travel company Preview Travel, which Travelocity bought in 2000. “More likely today, the answer is something less than that,” he said. The decision often boils down to which ones a company “can’t afford not to support.”

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