Whether you unconsciously appreciate the reliable atmosphere of Starbucks or you consciously find yourself choosing Apple over Microsoft we all make decisions based on brand loyalty. But as companies have expanded, it has not been enough to simply exchange goods and services — in this day and age, a relationship must be formed in order to optimize a strong customer base. If your company is in need of improved customer engagement, Appboy is a lifecycle engagement platform. Its CRM platform humanizes how you interact and retain your customer base. Already working with brands such as ABC News, Dominos, Lyft and Urban Outfitters, Appboy just raised a $50M round.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and cofounder Bill Magnuson about the company and its latest round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $50 million in a Series D funding round led by ICONIQ Capital—a growth equity investor and global multi-family office with recent investments in Houzz, InVision, and Sprinklr. In addition to ICONIQ Capital, our Series C lead, Battery Ventures, and all prior major investors participated.
Tell us about your product or service.
Appboy is lifecycle engagement platform for marketing, growth and engagement teams. We provide consumer-scale CRM software that enables marketers to build complete profiles of each customer and then orchestrate real-time, personalized messaging across all relevant channels. We’ve been helping humanize communication between brands and customers since 2011, making us a true pioneer in the space. In that time, we have achieved tremendous scale as the mobile economy continues to explode. Today, Appboy stores and maintains profiles for nearly one billion monthly active users across our global customer base and is used to power tens of billions of personalized messages every month across push, in-app and in-browser messages, email, tvOS, and other emerging platforms.
Jon Hyman and I were introduced to Mark Ghermezian through a chance meeting back in 2011, when Mark was looking for technical people to help start a company. We realized at the time that mobile was a platform that was going to change the world, yet there was a gap in the marketplace—all these products and apps were being built, but there was no long-term view toward building revenue and customer relationships. So together, we created a product category that would help people turn their mobile app into a business.
How is it different?
Built in the age of mobile, our core technology gives us the ability to innovate and pivot with each new technology and the evolution of consumer behavior. We believe that effective marketing increasingly means ensuring all communications and marketing channels across mobile, desktop and beyond work harmoniously—and this requires both best-in-class tools and the free flow of data between them.
Legacy marketing clouds try to provide this and have some great individual tools within them that they have acquired over time, but a lot of their technology still lags behind. The mobile generation demands sophisticated brand relationships and conversations, which is what we’re able to do really well—almost instantaneously.
What market are you targeting and how big is it
We work with global mobile-first brands like Lyft and Postmates, as well as iconic retailers like Urban Outfitters and major enterprise brands like Citi Global Cards and Domino’s. Our goal is to be the customer lifecycle go-to for notable brands, regardless of their industry or where they’re based.
What is the biggest difference between a consumer now and a consumer 10 years ago?
Today, customers are demanding more from brands beyond product. It’s not just about product anymore—brand loyalty is hinging more and more on customer experience. 83% of consumers now expect more personalized experiences from the brands they patronize.
Where and how we interact with brands on our mobile devices is also changing. Smartphones are everywhere, but desktop is still big and new technologies keep emerging. That means that brands need ways to reach their consumers on the platforms and devices they’re using, wherever and whenever they’re most likely to engage.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We’ve attracted VC funding largely because of what we’ve been able to do for big brands. Our investors have put a large amount of faith in us and we’ve consistently lived up to it by building a best-in-class growth technology that’s made it possible for our clients to drive critical customer relationships on a deeper, more engaging level than before.
Where do you see the company going now over the near and long term?
This new financing will allow Appboy to continue on its growth trajectory, replacing incumbent marketing clouds in email and driving leading brands into the future by empowering them to imagine, create and evolve enriching customer experiences that foster long-term value.
As we move ahead, we’re committed to keeping Appboy on the cutting edge. We’re already testing use cases in conversational interfaces, whether that’s via messaging platforms or digital voice assistants. Looking further into the future, we’re thinking about how augmented, virtual and mixed reality channels are going to affect customer relationships, and what role marketing messages will have in these ambient environments.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
To unwind, I frequent Amor y Amargo in East Village.