That said, it’s the platform’s mobile-centric attitude that appeals, said Neeraj Agrawal, a general partner at Battery Ventures, which has invested previously in everything from FreeWheel and LiveIntent to Lotame and Marketo.
“We’ve long been looking for ways to play the huge trend in mobile,” said Agrawal. “We were investors in ExactTarget and Neolane and those systems, along with Responsys, are Appboy’s main competitors in the market. Those are great businesses, but they weren’t built for this use case like Appboy was.”
Notably, ExactTarget, Neolane and Responsys were acquired by Salesforce, Adobe and Oracle, respectively.
But the path isn’t clear of competitors on the mobile-first marketing automation front, either. Kahuna, Swrve, Urban Airship, Localytics, Leanplum and others are vying for dollars as mobile comprises a larger and larger portion of digital spend.
Agrawal seemed to contradict the notion that the tech industry is experiencing a funding drought. The cash might not be flowing drunkenly anymore, but there is money to be had.
“We’ll continue to look for opportunities to invest in companies that provide brands with the opportunity to have unique, personalized conversations with their target audience, whether that’s categorized as ad tech, mar tech or some other technology,” he said. “Customer attention is increasingly moving toward mobile apps today, but the broader and more important trend is that the number of channels and the demands of consumers are increasing faster than they ever have.”
Mobile, especially mobile marketing automation, has appeared to be somewhat protected from the collective tightening of VC belts. 2015 was packed with funding announcements for these guys, including $35 million for Localytics and $21 million for Urban Airship in March; $45 million for Kahuna and $11.6 million for Leanplum in August; and $30 million for Swrve in November.
Appboy also intends to earmark a portion of its most recent funding for hiring, although Ghermezian declined to share how many people he plans to bring on board, other than to say the company plans to “take a mature approach” and not hire for the sake of hiring.
The current headcount at Appboy is roughly 120 spread across offices in New York, San Francisco and London. Clients include Urban Outfitters, Domino’s, Tinder and SoundCloud.