Interview with Oren Kanyel (CEO Appsflyer) on the mobile ecosystem, technology investments and corporate culture

    Getloyal CEO Alexei Pisarevsky, as part of the Mobio Talks show, interviewed CEO Appsflyer , Oren Kaniel.

    The interview discussed:

    - Corporate culture;
    - Rounds of investment in Appsflyer;
    - Product and company management;
    - Mobile ecosystem Appsflyer;
    - The development of new technologies in mobile;
    - Frod and how to deal with him;
    - Attribution models;
    - and much more.

    The video contains Russian subtitles, and under the cut you can read the text transcript.

    Over the past couple of years, Appsflyer has developed very rapidly. How many people are on your team now?

    344 employees.

    How many of them do you personally know?

    I try to know everyone. I try to communicate with each employee and I will certainly interview newcomers myself. Many entrepreneurs and managers are surprised, but I advise everyone to get to know better the people with whom you work. I fully trust the employees of our company. For me, talking with everyone is a great experience. I interview all candidates before they become employees. Therefore, I do not meet strangers in the office. I like to be open: anyone can contact me on any question about the company's strategy, for example, or about a product, or about the market, about anything.

    A big company is a big responsibility. Is Appsflyer difficult to manage?

    In terms of personal responsibility - I do not see much difference. Is it more difficult today than three years ago, I'm not sure. No, today it’s not harder than three or four years ago. Today I just solve completely different problems.

    What changed?

    Let's go say 4 years ago. We had very few funds.
    Then you had 7 million? This is not such a big problem.

    I said 4 years ago? Before we got 7 million. Let's just say that in 2012 our budget was much smaller - only half a million dollars. I then kept the table in excel: and below was the line how much money we have left to support the company. With each new employee, the period was reduced: six months, five months, four months. This means you have money left to keep the company for only 4 months.

    Such a pressure.

    Now it is different. Then it was necessary either to look for money or to change something in the company - otherwise in less than 4 months we would have to close the company.
    Recently, you have received 56 million dollars of investments and now you have 340 employees on staff. How many months will this money last?

    Now we must decide how fast we want to grow. We can control this process. Now that we have enough customers, we can already seriously talk about growth and pace. At first, there were customers, too, but there was no steady stream of income to consistently pay employees, suppliers, and everyone else.

    Regarding investments: in round “C” you received $ 56 million, before that in round “B” - 20 million, and in round “A” - 7 million. Which of the rounds was the hardest?

    The very first sowing round. About him is not written on Crunchbase. It was in 2012, and then we got those first half a million.

    And was this the hardest round?

    Yes, the most difficult.


    We started together with a partner - we developed a new technology, went to local investors here and talked about our technology. Nobody believed in us, everyone said: no, no, no. We talked with many investors here in Tel Aviv. Incidentally, this is a very interesting question. It was a difficult time, because we did not feel any support from the market, there was no reason. Investors had to blindly trust our history, trust our knowledge, and they have no validation from the market. As soon as we gained experience and were able to show how our ideas really help companies, they gave us money.

    Round “A” turned out to be much easier. In round “B” several investors came to us at once, and in round “C” there were even more of them. Investors asked the companies in which they had already invested what tools they used, and thus learned about us. Investors were interested in what we do even before we met.

    When do you plan to get profitable?

    We have a positive cash flow now, and as for profitability, it all depends on our decisions. Most resources go into development. If we want to achieve profitability ...

    Then will you simply cut staff?

    Yes, but we do not want to do this. Instead of 100 developers, we can only have 20 to maintain what we have. And tomorrow we will begin to make a profit. But this is not our strategy - for us it is now a priority to invest in product development.


    And speaking of the future, in five or ten years? Amazon, for example, has not been profitable for the first 20 years.

    This is an Amazon culture. They invest all their income in new business ideas - such is the idea of ​​its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. We at Appsflyer are inspired by his example.

    You have 13 offices around the world: in Israel, the USA, China, Germany, Great Britain, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Ukraine, Argentina and Brazil.
    Which one was the hardest to open?

    It's not so much in the country as in people. If you managed to assemble a talented team and find a good leader - everything will go easy. I meet people, get acquainted, talk with them. This is all networking.

    The Chinese market in our industry is considered one of the most difficult. You managed not only to reach it, but also to achieve success. What's the secret?

    First of all, in the product. The fact is that Chinese customers know exactly what they need, and directly say if something does not work. They are demanding. I think this is a positive side, because they push us to develop the product and its new features. They know exactly what they want. We are fortunate that we started working in China from the very beginning. How it all began, I do not know.

    As it turned out, there is a great demand for our services. We did not expect this to happen, and at the same time we tried to focus on other regions, too. At some point, we started working with the largest Chinese companies and met wonderful people. They all speak excellent English and in general are real professionals in the field of mobile application development. I then realized that it was interesting for us to cooperate with such companies.

    What about the Russian mobile advertising market?

    We love him. We adore the Russian market! One of our first and largest clients was a game development company from Russia. So the history of our company is closely connected with this market - we can say from there it all started.

    What do you think about the success of Yandex AppMetrica? This product is free, and that seems to be why many companies use it.

    When something is offered for free, there is always cause for concern, especially when it comes to analytic services. Any company stores data, not only its own, but also client’s: who bought what, how much it spent, and so on. After all, it would never occur to anyone to share information about their own customers with competitors - using such data, any company will find a way to take these customers to itself. Let's say you are a game developer, and you have one percent of users paying. Would you give them to a competitor just to save on an analytics tool?

    It turns out, if the tracking tool is free, most likely, it transfers client data somewhere else?

    I mean, companies need to be careful with the data. When they give something for free, there is a reason. After all, to create an instrument, you need money. In the case of Appsflyer, money is not streaming down on us from the sky. Some companies really monetize the data - they have such a business. Others charge for services or for the product. We chose to be independent and impartial - this is the only way we can guarantee our customers the safety of their data in a world where data is hunted. This is a potential threat to any company.

    The word "fraud" has become the word of the year in the industry of tracking systems. According to your estimates, what is the share of fraud traffic in the total volume?

    Good but difficult question. I will explain why. All you see is the Appsflyer ecosystem. Within our ecosystem, we fight fraud in two ways. First, through technology. Appsflyer has a 60 percent market share, which means we process huge amounts of data. Every day we see 30 billion events in mobile applications that are installed on 4 billion active devices - about as many smartphones exist on our planet. We constantly analyze this data and identify fraud in them.

    Another way is through dialogue with partners. We ask them to ensure that our customers do not receive fraud traffic from them. Otherwise, we will detect it and require active action. The fraud situation in mobile advertising illustrates the so-called “prisoner dilemma”. I wrote about this inblog post . The bottom line is that with the general connivance of the fraud, everyone will be bad. Trying to be competitive, many market players drive fraud traffic or turn a blind eye to it for a beautiful ROI. Developing our ecosystem, we motivate all its members to fight fraud for the benefit of customers.

    Do you believe in such an ecosystem?

    Yes. For example, we stopped working with two partners who, according to our information, did not make enough efforts to clean out the fraud. In general, such companies are incorrectly called “partners” - their entire business is built on fraud. We simply blocked their accounts by denying access to the platform.

    What do you think of the attribution models of Facebook and Google, which are distributed according to their own algorithms? Is such a system transparent enough for the market?
    In my opinion, there is a misunderstanding on this issue in the market. Competition between companies is not only in value, but also in other ways, for example, price. There are different stories. As for the so-called self-reporting networks, one of our competitors recently talked about the fact that they are not able to get all the data from Google and Facebook to create multi-touch attributes because they do not receive all the data about self-reporting networks. This is wrong, because we and they have all the necessary data for this. We have multitouch attribution working for the third year, and for any networks. In Appsflyer, you can flexibly customize the retrospective attribution window for both impressions and clicks.

    What are the prospects for retargeting technology, in your opinion?

    From the very beginning, we knew that targeting has a great future and relied on the fact that sooner or later from measuring the number of users and attitudes the market will come to concepts such as genuine engagement and re-engagement. It took more time than we expected, but now this concept, fortunately, has finally begun to gain popularity. We have invested a lot of effort in developing opportunities for retargeting and engagement in our product: for example, in our OneLink mobile retargeting solution based on deeplinks technology.

    "Deep links" make it possible to direct users to a particular page, depending on whether they have the application installed or not. This year, we developed a new mechanism for sequential audience segmentation, which allows us to segment users based on first-hand data and transfer them to partners for retargeting and re-engagement. In 2017, this tool was very successful - many customers immediately began to actively use it.

    As a leader, what are you focusing on first? What are your daily tasks?

    I think about everything. The tasks are different. Product development, promotion strategy, company structure, negotiations with colleagues. With each person in the team, whether it is a manager or a developer, I communicate personally. I think about everything. If you ask me what is most important, I will tell people. People are the main thing in our company, and I consider it important to invest in their development and professional growth. The culture. I would like for anyone who has worked with us or has worked before, the experience at Appsflyer to be proud. I am sure that when you make a product and are proud of it, everything turns out.

    And the last question: what is the main goal of Appsflyer for 2018?

    Continue to maintain market leadership. There is nothing complicated here - the main thing is to please customers and partners with the capabilities of our platform and useful services. We want everyone to be satisfied. Customers need two things - to be faster and cheaper. We understand this and will move in this direction in 2018. We also hope that fraud will be over and everyone will forget about it as a nightmare and start talking about such useful things as retargeting. When people or companies are afraid that they will be deceived - this is bad. Thanks to technology, this fear can be cured and new growth opportunities created instead. I hope that this will happen exactly next year.

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