Apps are big business. The global market is expected to reach $407.31 billion by 2026, growing 18.4% year-over-year, according to research by Allied Market.
Yet when AppsFlyer was founded in Israel in 2011, there was a booming app market, driven in large part by the success of the iPhone app store, but very limited ways to measure app engagement and success. app users. Even Google didn’t have a satisfactory solution at the time. AppsFlyer Founders CEO Oren Kaniel and CTO Reshef Mann decided to change that.
AppsFlyer’s mobile attribution and analytics software provides app developers with the insights they need to understand how to profitably grow and retain their users, which many consider a near de facto standard for measurement. apps.
About the business idea, Kaniel says, “I was in my twenties and I wanted to take minimal risks and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m not going to get into the business. game. I’m not going to get into the social stuff. I’m not going to do consumerism, but I really want to create technology that would allow these apps to do great things. In addition, the lack of measurement was a big technological obstacle. At first people said it was impossible. And I said, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s impossible, but someone has to solve it.’ And in the end, it was possible,” says Kaniel.
Kaniel was working in Philadelphia as an intern on his Wharton MBA exchange program with Reichman University when he came up with the idea of creating B2B technology for the app market. He returned to Israel to tell his childhood friend Reshef about the idea and began talking with friends, family members and indie developers working on apps about what they were using to measure success. of their applications. Next, start building a build of the AppsFlyer measurement software.
“This period of gaining market insights has shaped many ways of doing things in business. I went to a Google Meet on Google Analytics for Apps. And actually, I was very scared of ask, ‘Okay, where do the users come from? How do you do the attributions? And I was like, ‘It’s Google. They can probably put an army of developers to do this. So I asked anyway and the Google guy said he doesn’t know, they don’t have that information and that kind of metric doesn’t exist,” Kaniel says.
At the meeting, Kaniel told the group about the software he was working on and his ability to better answer these measurement questions. One of the attendees told Kaniel that he had an app and would be happy to try Kaniel’s software for free. It turned out to have one of the biggest applications in Israel. “He tried it, and after three days he told me that his app had crashed. So I said to this new client, ‘You know what? I trust you. Here’s the source code. Can- be that you can find the bug for me. And he did,” says Kaniel. This client later joined the company and now leads parts of the company’s product development and innovation.
“The reason I like this story is that it’s an example of why they tell entrepreneurs not to stay in stealth mode. You want to shout out your dreams and tell the world what you want to do and your vision. At the time, it wasn’t really a vision. We really wanted to help a developer. But then you kind of attract great people who share the same views or the same passion for problem solving that we’re trying to do. And some entrepreneurs sit in the garage not telling everyone what they’re doing, and they can’t get the feedback they need to improve. The first customer is also passionate about what you do because they’re not going to buy from two people in the garage. They buy the passion, they buy the idea, they buy the idea of working with you to solve problems. They are really the first investors in this company. And I think that has shaped our corporate culture on many levels, because we learn from customers from day one and also after 10 years,” says Kaniel.
AppsFlyer has grown rapidly and moved its headquarters to San Francisco in 2018 and now has some 1,400 employees in 20 offices around the world. They have 10,000 different partners and provide measurement analytics for 80,000 companies, from start-ups to blue chip brands like Walmart, Nike, Coca-Cola, Ebay and Visa. Last year, the company introduced its Privacy Cloud as a data cleanroom for ecosystem collaboration.
“We consider ourselves customer obsessed. Now, if we’re obsessed with our customers to deliver great products, we must be obsessed with their own customers, because that’s what we ultimately serve. And I think that’s allowed us to really do the right things in an ecosystem that’s changing at an extremely rapid rate. If you look at the history of this market, it is probably the fastest growing and most evolving industry ever. And this will be the case in the future. That means if you’re not nimble enough, you’re not nimble enough, you’re not flexible enough, you don’t have the right vision in mind, and you’re probably going to close shop sooner or later,” says Kaniel
Although it was difficult to raise funds at first, the company’s continued growth momentum has enabled AppsFlyer to attract some $300 million in venture capital funding from Salesforce Ventures, Magma Venture Partners, General Atlantic, Qumra Capital, DTCP, Eight Roads Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital, Goldman Sachs and others. Its January 2020 $210 million Series D round led by General Atlantic valued the company at $2 billion at that time.
Kaniel was born in Israel into a modest family. As a child, in the early 80s, he was always fascinated by computers and taught himself programming. He also worked as a teenager for a hardware store. “It was really exciting. At the same time, I came to people’s homes after they bought this ‘box’ and told them what they could do with it. And I programmed little floppy disks with a menu to make it accessible,” says Kaniel. He and his best friend Reshef discovered the wonders of the internet by using his mother’s phone to connect to the first bulletin boards that were developing at the time. He and Reshaf learned by trial and error how to navigate this new world of connected computers.
He studied computer science at the Technion Institute of Technology and worked for Intel as a software engineer while continuing his education. He then earned his MBA at Reichmann University and was accepted into an MBA exchange program with the Wharton School of Philadelphia. There, he had the good fortune to start working as a summer associate for a VC in Philadelphia.
One of the biggest research projects he worked on focused on marketing technology and advertising. He noticed huge problems in the digital ecosystem in general, especially when it came to brands and ad tech, because he didn’t understand whose side they were representing. “They represent the brand or the advertiser. They represent the publisher, they represent both. And now it’s like conflict of interest. If you’re representing buyers, you probably want to make sure they’re getting the most for what they’re paying for and the seller is the other way around,” says Kaniel.
His brief experience in VC led him to work on a still-nascent vision to help solve the technology conflict of interest dilemma by focusing on only one side of the equation: measurement. He returned to Israel to join his friend Reshef to start working on what would become AppsFlyer. Kaniel’s wife, Lisa, had a background in digital marketing and was also instrumental in starting and later joining the company full-time as HR director.
Of his impending potential IPO, Kaniel says, “Our vision is to be independent and unbiased, which is the foundational element for this entire ecosystem to trust us. Being public is a big part of that. And for the IPO, we’re going to practice being a big public company, not a big IPO, which is different.
As for the future? “You always have to iterate and create new things and never fall in love with your own product, which is pretty hard. When you fall in love with your product, you can’t let go and you can’t create new things. So we have to fall in love with the ecosystem. We have to fall in love with the people who actually use and connect the devices. So our vision is to really make the experience of connected devices better and safer, better in terms of experience , value and confidentiality,” concludes Kaniel.