In this third year of CFO’s Tech Companies to Watch, we found a notable shift in the applications being offered by vendors. In every functional area of the companies that made our annual list — process management, recruiting, travel expenses, receivables management, and compliance among them — the goal is unearthing the real story behind the data to make more intelligent decisions.

The entirety of the list appears in the April/May 2019 edition of CFO magazine. We are revealing the first 10 companies on CFO.com, one per day. Our first seven tech companies to watch were FortressIQ, Behavox, Completed.com, Yaypay, Yapta, AuditBoard, and Sisense. Today, we cover App Annie, a platform to track mobile performance.

App Annie

The App for Apps

App vendors have long employed the free-to-pay paradigm, getting users to download apps, hooking them on an experience, and turning them into subscribers. App Annie, a software-as-a-service app analytics and data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, uses the same model as the apps it tracks—with solid results.

The company, which has an 80% market share and one million registered users of its service, tracks more than 14 million apps worldwide. It takes anonymized and aggregated data from apps, consumer panels, and ad networks, analyzes it, and provides those insights to its customers. Using this data, developers can improve apps and potentially compete more effectively.

The two main App Annie offerings are Intelligence and Connect. The free version of DaaS Intelligence provides data such as daily and historical app store rankings, version updates, in-app purchases, and keyword rankings. It is the paid premium version of

Intelligence that brought the company into profitability, though. That version features more granular data, breaking down the app market by, among other attributes, size, active users, and market penetration.

App Annie also offers developers insights into their own app’s usage and advertising performance via its SaaS Connect platform. The platform aggregates a developer’s own proprietary app data into a single graphical interface. Publishers can see how well in-app ad campaigns perform, for instance, and download their aggregated data for use in other applications. A premium paid version of Connect helps publishers with predictive analytics and advertising strategy.

“We provide comprehensive market data on usage patterns—[monthly active users], [daily active users], time in app, frequency in app, correlation analysis. If they’re using Uber, how likely are they to use Bank of America?” explains Ted Krantz, the company’s CEO and a veteran of PeopleSoft and SAP. “And then we also have a marketing dimension that really ties into ad network performance.” The developer can see when the ads are refreshed and how long they’re playing, and “make some inferences based on the success of those creatives.”

The earliest users of the service were global gaming developers, but over time App Annie’s reach has expanded. It has garnered more than 1,100 paid customers, including LinkedIn, Coca-Cola, and Mattel. In 2019, the company hopes to boost that number by introducing a version of its services for the mobile web. That would allow developers to capture clients that may not have mobile apps as well as those that want to merge their app and mobile web development strategies.

“We’re moving beyond the app into more of a full mobile-performance equation,” says Krantz.

Another improvement helps app developers move from reactive to proactive. The company recently launched App Annie Lab, a platform where customers can see new features and offerings early on in an App Annie product build. While the access is free and early adopters get a feel for the company’s newest product offerings, there is an App Annie ask: real-time iterative feedback. The company wants user experience data. “It increases our stickiness and helps us with product direction,” explains Krantz.

Going forward, this kind of collaboration will help App Annie with its biggest challenge: getting people to see the app-centric company as a mobile provider. It’s something Krantz and new CFO Susan Kim, who has a background in investment banking and operations, are expecting to tackle this year.

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