Last year we reported that Truecaller — the popular, smart phonebook app and startup — was looking to raise $100 million at a $1 billion valuation. But while there has been no development on that front, the startup has been on a consolidation kick as it aims to become cash-flow positive. After confirming 30 layoffs in December, today the company announced that it is merging features of one of its apps, Truedialer, into its flagship Truecaller app — and shutting down Truedialer in the process.
Now in addition to existing caller ID options, Truecaller users will get features like smart call history, availability and a new dialer to make calls from within the Truecaller app.
Truecaller — which is available on iOS and Android — has not given a final closure date for Truedialer, an Android-only app. But it has started to prompt users to migrate to Truecaller today. Truecaller’s separate Android app for SMS — TrueMessenger — and its new SDK will remain unaffected.
The company said that the decision to phase out Truedialer was to enhance features in Truecaller, in part as a response to users.
“Over the past year we’ve studied user behavior and listened to our users, and most importantly ourselves, we’ve realized that both the apps offering these tremendous benefits would better fit together and will be more valuable for the users,” a spokesperson told us.
It’s also the case that Truedialer was less popular than TrueCaller. According to data from App Annie, in India — Truecaller’s biggest market — the flagship app is a steady presence in the top ten Google Play store. Truedialer, meanwhile, hovers in the 200’s. Truedialer’s last reported figure was over 10 million users as of April last year. Truecaller now has seen over 250 million downloads.
Truecaller aims to take over the default communications apps on your device by offering features such as spam detection, integrating social media into phonebook contacts, and more. It started out with a phonebook app (Truecaller) before adding Truedialer, a lighter incarnation to cater to a wider audience, in 2014. Truecaller has a global audience but counts the fast-moving, large mobile market of India as its largest market.
But while it’s been a longstanding strategy among app developers to grow user bases by expanding their app catalogues (see: Facebook and its army of apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, all hugely popular in their own right outside of Facebook itself), it looks like Truecaller is taking a different route by enhancing its most popular app and cutting out some of the overlap among users.
This could also help Truecaller compete against bigger companies that offer competing services.
Both Facebook and Google are among those that have stepped into the ‘smart’ phone app space directly. Google’s own dialer app and a similar effort from Facebook could be seen as serious competition, but Mamedi claimed he sees these as an “energy boost”.
“We’re happy to see companies like Facebook and Google looking at this space and trying to compete with us,” he said. “People get excited that we are doing the right things. We have such a head start and community of loyal fans.”
Funding on hold
That community of loyal fans has helped True Software attract some $80 million in private backing so far from top-shelf investors that include Atomico, KPCB, and Sequoia.
But more generally, funding is getting harder for a number of startups, with valuations under pressure for many. A source close to the matter tells us that TrueCaller’s efforts to land new funding at that $1 billion valuation didn’t advance last year. Mamedi, meanwhile, denied there was a new round in the works, and added that Truecaller is not looking for new investment.
“We don’t need external funding, we’re actually making money right now,” the Truecaller CEO told TechCrunch. “We’re in a really good position… we’re still a small company and I’d say we’re a very efficient company… Raising funds takes so much focus from your core business. Success has lately been seen as how much money you raise, I don’t see that as a healthy perspective. We’re focused on our product and bringing the best experience to our users.”
Swedish publication Dagens Industri reported that the startup lost 84 million Swedish kronor ($9.9 million) in 2014. It has not disclosed figures for 2015. Mamedi told the publication that Truecaller aims to be cash-flow positive by the end of 2016 following the introduction of targeted advertising, its first effort to monetize its free apps.
That will also be another by-product of merging Truedialer features into Truecaller: the aim is to get users to spend more time in the app, and to get them using it for more functions. By combing the userbases of Truecaller and Truedialer into a single app, Truecaller also increases its advertising revenue potential by catering to more eyeballs.