After spending a year in stealth mode, listening to their market and building, Embrace.io launched with a clear mission: helping developers better understand how their apps are performing. Having lived the challenges of building, releasing and managing enterprise-scale apps from my days as CEO of appssavvy, I totally got this value proposition.
A large percentage of an app’s performance issues have nothing to do with crashes, though they tend to get treated that way. So, when something goes wrong, engineers are forced to crawl through the muck of issue discovery and diagnosis using a bunch of disconnected tools that weren’t even made for mobile. It’s a waste of time, a pain in the ass, and app teams hate it.
So, when I saw what Embrace.io has to offer (basically, a single tool to identify, visualize, diagnose and fix app performance problems), and the layer of detail they’re able to get to on the individual user level, I knew I was looking at a winner on the tech side. But what makes a company really worth investing in for me goes way beyond their tech. In the case of Embrace.io, here’s everything I saw that convinced me this one was going to be a winner:
Founders who’ve had success. Eric Futoran (cofounder of Scopely, which just raised another $60 million) is a winner, period. So are Eric’s cofounders, Maggie Shih and Fredric Newberg. As people who have built, taken to market and performance-managed some of the top grossing game apps of all time, including Walking Dead and Yahtzee, they’ve experienced first-hand the problems they’re trying to solve. Intimacy with a market's pain, combined with the talent and partnerships to solve it, provides a superb launch pad for any startup.
The mobile app ecosystem is exploding. As of this writing, there’s more than 5 million apps between Apple’s App Store and Google Play, with maybe 2,500 per day being added. More apps, means more performance problems, which means more need for tools like Embrace that make apps easier to manage. In the same way that BlueKai used cookies to create better profiles, Mopub made monetization easier, mParticle solved for central data piping, and Unacast is aggregating and harmonizing location, Embrace.io is solving app performance for a growing and fragmented mobile marketplace.
Licensed products vs. ad businesses are refreshing. In my article on selling data, I talked about the tangible benefits of a licensed revenue arrangement as compared to always getting stuck on the likes of CMP models. Embrace.io gets a similar nod of approval for having a SaaS business that scales and provides revenue predictability. This the route we go at Unacast, and I’d encourage more founders to factor this type of ‘investor think’ into their own pitches and revenue models. It’s a real difference-maker.
Visibility (this is huge). For the first time, by using Embrace.io’s platform, app teams have the ability to see all the in-app data for a given user's session, including network calls, memory, CPU usage, SDK interaction, clicks and screenshots. When there’s a problem, the engineer can dive-down into each user’s individual timeline, quickly diagnose an issue, and correlate it to a specific outcome (e.g. loss of an IAP, voluntary app closure, or an uninstall). Bridging that gap between a technical performance issue and a specific user experience, or business outcome, is a massive evolution for the apps business.
The power to change an industry. When apps can be more efficiently produced and managed, they will run better. When apps run better, user experiences improve. When user experiences improve, brands, advertisers and marketers will be able to create more compelling native engagements in those apps, improving monetization. When all this happens at-scale, we have a more efficient apps industry. Publishers are making better product (and have more time to focus on making cool stuff, rather than fixing broken stuff). Enabling techs and other businesses will rise up to bolster the industry and claim their piece of the pie.
Consumers will consume, companies will grow, mergers/acquisitions/exits will abound and we’ll be well on our way to the next big thing. Embrace.io is one of those rare companies that has the people, partners, vision and technical know-how to lead us there.