Mobile app market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, which provides data-driven insights about the app economy, has raised $45 million in new funding from Riverwood Capital. This is the first significant investment the now-profitable company has seen since its $1 million seed round in 2013.
The investment speaks to the growing demand for data about the app economy.
App intelligence firms like Sensor Tower and rivals — including App Annie, Apptopia and others — aim to become one-stop shops for data and insights. Sensor Tower’s current offerings include insights into user acquisition strategies, ASO (app store optimization), competitive analysis and app-specific data, like daily ranks, installs, review analysis and more. Its customers can also get a view of the app economy globally, with top charts, publisher breakdowns, quarterly reports, ad intelligence and other data.
Among Sensor Tower’s client base are a number of enterprise-level customers, including Morgan Stanley, Zynga and Tencent. In total, the company has more than 350 enterprise users.
Sensor Tower has been profitable since launch and reports that 2019 saw record annual recurring revenue, and 65% growth year-over-year. Its employee head counts also increased 50% over the past year as Sensor Tower has expanded internationally, including with the opening of a new London office aimed at supporting the EMEA market. The company now has 75 employees globally.
App store intelligence firms serve to fill an existing need for businesses that generate their own revenue from mobile customers. Neither Apple nor Google allow developers to view data or trends about the app store or the competitive landscape — only how their own app is performing. But businesses also need to know things like which keywords are successfully attracting users, how competitors are allocating their ad budget, how likely users are to pay or subscribe, how global trends can impact their own apps and so much more.
These insights, however, often come with a cost. Sensor Tower and App Annie both have used or acquired mobile data companies to gather data. They’ve also run their own network of VPN apps and ad-blocker apps, which quietly collect data on how consumers are using their apps, sometimes without proper disclosure. Google and Facebook have done this too.
But there are no signs that the demand for app data is slowing.
In the U.S., for example, adults are now spending 3 hours, 43 minutes on their devices per day, according to eMarketer. Meanwhile, app downloads and revenue are expected to hit record levels through 2024 across both emerging and mature markets alike, Sensor Tower says.
The firm references the new funding from Riverwood as more of a strategic partnership focused on its further growth. It’s been in negotiations with the investors since 2019, it says.
“Coming from scrappy roots and minimal investment to be the company we are today, we’re excited to be partnering with Riverwood Capital,” said Alex Malafeev, co-founder and CEO of Sensor Tower, in a statement. “We believe this new chapter will allow us to accelerate our growth, innovate, and develop comprehensive solutions for an ever changing mobile ecosystem. Furthermore, we’re excited to partner with Jeff Parks, Ramesh Venugopal, and John Yang from Riverwood on the next phase of our growth.”
The company plans to use the new capital across all aspects of its business, including hiring, marketing, infrastructure and physical expansions. A newer product, the first Sensor Tower has launched in two-plus years, is App Teardown, which offers insights about what SDKs other apps are using.
“We’re looking at this as a way to really step on the gas after seven years of developing the product and business to the point where we’re confident it can support scaling at a more rapid pace,” noted Malafeev. “At the same time, this is a strategic investment from Riverwood, which is known for partnering with businesses such as ours that are primed for scale, and they will serve as close advisors on our growth. We’ll leverage their operational experience and apply the lessons they’ve learned working with other high-growth startups such as Nextdoor to ensure the decisions we make across the organization are aligned with maximizing this investment,” he added.