As a leading mobile analytics service, App Annie is known for its business intelligence, and analytics and stats on apps and digital goods. The company now claims to have over 270,000 registered users and more than 600,000 mobile apps using its platform to track app downloads, rankings, and earnings. Over 90% of the top 100 app publishers on iOS and Google Play use their services.

App Annie has often been quoted or cited as a reliable source for market insights. But in a way, attention to its market intelligence is hiding the company itself, making us overlook how it has evolved and developed as a startup.

App Annie CEO Bertrand Schmitt previously shared with TechNode how he bootstrapped the startup, and our conversation continues on what’s new for the company.

Did App Annie move its headquarters this year?

Schmitt: Yes, we moved our headquarters from Beijing to San Francisco this October. Actually, we set up our headquarters in San Francisco two years ago to better tap the global market. As a global company, 85% of our business is outside China. We have moved our marketing and product management teams to San Francisco this time. But Beijing is still the engineering center and HQ for the Asia-Pacific region.

App Annie bought out major competitor Distimo this May. What changes did this acquisition bring the company?

It’s been six months since we acquired Distimo. After settling into the new environment in the first month, the Distimo team has been fully integrated and we’re working together to improve and develop new products.

The transition of former Distimo clients to App Annie platform was very smooth thanks to the similarities of our products and services. Customers could benefit from a more complete platform for analyzing their apps and the mobile app marketplace.

In addition to internet companies, App Annie had partnered several big-name traditional customers, like BMW, Nestle and Tesco. To some extent, these companies may be reluctant to move into mobile internet. What drives them into this kind of change?

All kinds of enterprise have to face the changes in the mobile internet age. Users are spending more time on mobile devices, less time on TV and newspapers. If you don’t follow the eyeballs, you can become irrelevant. It take time for big enterprises to move, but eventually, they start to accelerate their steps. Most big companies started by using our free products first, and then switch to paid services for more data thereafter.

Do they have a very clear strategy in the development of a mobile app, such as building a universal app for all their services, or just make apps for temporary campaigns?

It really depends on the companies. The strategy for some companies is not organized, since they usually have lots of apps for different markets, some developed by themselves and some by agencies. In that case, they took our advice to centralize their services and make sure the initiatives make sense on a global scale.

Former NASA data scientist Paul Stolorz joined App Annie as Chief Data Scientist this November. What do you think was the main attraction for him to join App Annie and what he will bring to the company?

There are very few people who combine technical knowledge on data science and seniority in managing teams. As for why he picked us, I think Paul has been in the data business long enough, but it’s the first time for him to work for a company with data as its core business. When he worked for Google and Netflix, data was not the end product that customers were going to use. I think he would feel excited to finally work at the center, rather than at the edge of the business.

Some companies hold developer conferences to get their voice heard, like Microsoft’s Build, Apple’s WWDC and Facebook’s F8. Do you have a similar plan?

Six month ago, we launched a similar developer event called App Annie Decode. We have held it in New York, San Francisco and are planning to have it in China, Japan and South Korea. Our strategy is not to have a single big event, but hold more local ones instead.

App Annie released an annual performance report for the first time in the company’s history this November. Does this move indicates a shift in how the company sees itself – from a startup to an enterprise, or to prepare for funding or IPO?

We spend a lot of time talking about the market and very little about us. I think it is time to let people know a bit more about us and show them our development.

We tripled both our user base and revenues over the past year. The company has more than 270 staff at present. More than 180 employees were added to the team this year, of which 40-45 came from the acquisition of Distimo.

The release of the annual report is not designed for fundraising or an IPO, but only to attract more users. App Annie just raised a $17 million round funding from existing investors and we have very close relationship with them.

Originally from: Li Shuhang 

Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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