Paris-based AppGratis has been in operation for a few years now, but it has only recently started targeting the U.S. market in earnest. Now, the app discovery tool for Apple’s iOS mobile ecosystem is announcing its first round of institutional funding, in the form of a $13.5 million Series A round led by Iris Capital that includes Orange Publicis Fund. The money will be used to help AppGratis capitalize on its current momentum, as the company says it’s already adding around 100,000 new users per day globally, but can do more with outside funding.
AppGratis offers the sort of thing you’ve likely seen from other companies, including Free App Of The Day and AppHero, by surfacing content from the App Store for users complete with editorial descriptions and discounts on paid apps. The app consistently gets top reviews on iTunes, and it manages top 10 chart placement in multiple country stores around the world, including in the U.S. and U.K. The business model is simple: Big publishers pay a CPI fee for traffic that AppGratis drives their way, and smaller publishers and developers can also get in on the action with a more affordable revenue-sharing arrangement. AppGratis claims that at peak, featured placement in its app can drive over 500,000 downloads for a title in a single day thanks to its reach and reputation with consumers.
“We work with Nike and we can feature the Nike+ app and help them get more traction with that, and we work with the Zyngas and the Disneys of the world, so that’s one big part of the business,” explained AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat in an interview. “We also are able to work on a revenue-share basis with the indies and the smaller guys, and help them achieve profitability for their app.”
App discovery is a crowded space, but also one that doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing in terms of interest from consumers and mobile app users. In fact, the proliferation of mobile software titles means that this will only be an area of more concern, and not something that any one party can come along and simply handle in the way that, say, Square can: essentially taking care of the demand for small merchant business transactions, leaving little room for new or legacy players. Asked if he was worried that Apple might come along and just solve the problem itself, eliminating the entire second market around app discovery, Dawlat was more than optimistic.
“[Apple] acquired Chomp, and I’m still looking for the improvements in app discovery since the latest version of iOS 6,” he said. “My deep feeling in talking to people who are close to Apple or to developers is that they’re just having such a hard time keeping the pace with the growth of the App Store itself and making everything work, I think there are few resources at Apple right now invested in app discovery, so I think there’s more room than ever for third-party players.”
AppGratis is definitely on a roll, with 1 million users adding to their 7 million global total since their U.S. app launched in December. They’ve now got a team of 40 operating out of their HQ in France, with language skills covering the gamut to help them localize for different regions. Dawlat says they’ll look at more hires thanks to this new funding, along with boosting R&D and product development to help further their international expansion.