Last week, Flurry was acquired by Yahoo. No one seemed really surprised by this move, and I can’t find anyone who can explain me why Flurry was bought up for only $300m.
Although Flurry is one of the most aging mobile product out there, it remains one of the first of its kind. Being first is never a guarantee of being the best, but it surely helps being one of the biggest.
Flurry is first and foremost an SDK that has been integrated – according to Flurry – by more than 540,000 apps. In other words, roughly one app out of five as of July 2014, if we gently consider 100% of the claimed SDK integrations are still live, of course. Thanks to that, Flurry just knows what one billion mobile devices do. Perhaps it lacks tools to extract comprehensive learnings out of this, but they have the knowledge. And you know, Francis was right.
Flurry, like Google, backs its ad network with the data it gathers from its publishers and free analytics users. The model works, and Flurry being one of the biggest mobile app install provider of the planet is a proof of that.
To me, Flurry represents what a lot of mobile startups dream of : having their SDK integrated by thousands of developers, so they can start leveraging the data this helps them gather. 540,000+ registered apps represent a tremendous amount of work, and the existence of an hopefully efficient back-end to power everything. I think – though I have zero expertise in acquisitions – that $300m sounds like not a lot for Flurry considering what they’ve achieved and raised ($60m). Of course, it is something if 80% of these 540,000 registered apps are not live SDK integrations anymore, but such a situation would be… not a good sign and probably not worth a shot for Yahoo. Maybe Flurry wasn’t going so well either, as suggested by Re/code:
Flurry has gotten just over $60 million in funding from players like Draper Fisher Jurvetson and First Round Capital, starting out its life as an app developer. Its last $12.5 million round was in December. But it took $10 million debt financing in June — which some insiders said was a sign of stress within the company, which some sources said was aggressively seeking a buyer.
Flurry’s value to Yahoo
On top of being a tier one mobile ad tech company, Flurry has assets many people are trying to acquire, on a daily basis through many service providers: mobile users, device information, ecosystem information (including insights on application stores, platforms) and plenty of behavioral data. Flurry has all of that. Flurry is a huge Trojan horse, and Yahoo has probably made its best mobile deal ever if they manage to exploit it well.
Everyday, thousands of devs and advertisers are spending between $0.5 and $15 per install to get mobile users. Then, they spend again to know how those users behave, and in order to sell them stuff while giving away 30% to Google and Apple. They do this one user at a time, in a truly painful way. Every user counts. Yahoo on its end just acquired 1 billion device history for – if we base our calculation on the rumored acquisition figure – $0.3 per device. For each of these device, Yahoo now knows a lot about their past, present and even future. The value of such knowledge, combined with something else – like a mobile exchange, or some kind of RTB enabled bidder is high. I will agree, they haven’t acquired users per say. However, when we know how loyal users are (not), sometimes it’s better to be that man in the middle, and benefit from the overall distributed success rather than trying to make it work from the ground up.
So, Yahoo acquired a great way to push its own mobile properties. Owning Flurry certainly can avoid them paying Flurry’s cut on CPI campaigns, and therefore Yahoo can count on a relatively diverse, wide, cost-effective acquisition channel for its product launches and reactivations. It is clear though, that Flurry is just one element of the mobile advertising landscape, and that much more is needed to push a product in the most effective way. Still, it’s a great asset, especially if we remember Yahoo has got a few other properties that can help with traffic generation…
So in the end, if Flurry isn’t rotten, and running the company doesn’t become a financial black hole, I can see this investment as a great one for Yahoo. But, it seems no one got excited… why?