In this week’s episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr chat with Oren Kaniel, AppsFlyer’s Co-Founder and CEO. AppsFlyer is a mobile marketing analytics and attribution platform. When Apple announced the vast app tracking transparency changes it deployed in 2021 it shook the Mobile Marketing Partner (MMP) ecosystem. So we wanted to learn from Oren how a fast-growing company like his was able to navigate and lead through this massive sea change.
One of the standout moments from our conversation was when Oren explained that as these external forces of change began to manifest around him, he asked the question, “What do we know won’t change?” With so much uncertainty in the industry, knowing what he and his team could safely rely on to stay the same helped define the starting point from which they could meet the challenges and embrace new opportunities as they emerged.
This was quite instructive and fits in with the longer view of the world Oren takes. Rather than getting hung up on what will happen in the next year or two, he tries to look at the world through the lens of ‘where are we going,’ five years, ten years, and even beyond. In the startup world, it is often difficult to expand one’s view beyond the urgency of the moment, but AppsFlyer’s success demonstrates the importance of balancing that urgency with what will be important to the business over the longer term.
Google recently announced its own round of privacy changes, similar to what Apple has instituted. Undoubtedly, this will further impact AppsFlyer and the entire mobile ecosystem. Despite the chaos this creates, companies like AppsFlyer will find ways to continue to thrive and grow.
Dive in with us and find out how to lead growth when the world around you is in flux, and please subscribe to our new Breakout Growth Podcast YouTube channel:
* The beginning of AppsFlyer; noticing an imbalance in 2010 (06:14)
* The business of enabling businesses; 10,000 partners from Salesforce to Facebook (10:21)
* Apple and IDFA; staying focused through challenge and change (24:52)
* “What we know won’t change” (28:44)
* A future with winners and more complex solutions (56:07)
And much, much, more . . .
Introduction 00:00:08 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr interview leaders from the world’s fastest-growing companies to get to the heart of what’s really driving their growth. And now here are your hosts, Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar.
Sean Ellis 00:00:26 And this week’s episode of the breakout growth podcast, Ethan Garrand I chat with Oren kennel, the co-founder and CEO of AppsFlyer. So if you are in mobile, there’s a really good chance that you use AppsFlyer to measure, analyze, and engage with customers over more than a decade or an S team have built AppsFlyer into the premiere SAS, mobile marketing analytics and attribution platform, but they really the entire mobile ecosystem. I’ve gone through a very challenging shakeup over the past few years, as apple announced significant changes related to user privacy and sharing of personal data. How does a company approach a looming sea change? How do you keep your team focused on the mission when the ground is shifting beneath your feet and how do you keep your customer, or how do you help your customers navigate these challenges when they’re really depending on you? So, Ethan, do you think our audience will find the answers to those questions today?
Ethan Garr 00:01:20 I do. The interesting thing about Apple’s IDFA changes are that there was a long period between when they were announced and when they actually went into effect, I think it was well over a year. And in that time, like some of my mobile colleagues were predicting the demise of the apps, flyers of the world, and predicting that this would kill Facebook, but nobody really knew what the impacts would be because you couldn’t really simulate those impacts. And if you’re AppsFlyer and you’re facing that you have no choice, but to just face it, head on, but look, consumers are still going to use apps. They were going to play games, watch Tik, TOK videos, post to social networks. Everyone had to figure it out and ultimately good companies with strong product market fit. Those are the ones that were going to adapt and survive.
Sean Ellis 00:02:00 Yeah, for sure. I mean, you and I worked firstname.lastname@example.org craze and the eventual bubble burst. It was a crazy time companies going out of business overnight. And our world was really turned upside down, but we never doubted for a minute that the web was here to stay.
Ethan Garr 00:02:15 Yeah. And the companies that made it through that period were the ones who had that real product market fit, took a longer view of the world and had conviction to navigate those challenges.
Sean Ellis 00:02:24 Right. And in this case, or never looked at the next year or two as a future, he was looking in five, 10 and 20 year chunks. And he asked this really great question to sort of frame how they manage through these challenges, which is what do we know won’t change.
Ethan Garr 00:02:41 Yeah, exactly. That to me was this incredibly poignant and valuable moment in this conversation that our listeners should, uh, should pay attention to. Oren’s convinced that ultimately the mobile marketing world after the shakeup is eventually going to get back to the same place it was at, or even ahead of where it was and someone’s going to win. So what does corn won’t T what does or no won’t change? He says that for the industry, privacy and accuracy won’t change and for his company, customer obsession and enabling innovation, isn’t going to change it’s from that foundation that he’s able to lead his team through the craziness.
Sean Ellis 00:03:13 Yeah. And to me, that’s, what’s really instructive for our listeners. Change is all around you in digital all the time. You can count on that, but if you can find certainty in just a few areas and especially if the principle than mission-driven, you can navigate the uncertainty for Orrin, this has kind of become the norm. Now, Google just announced that it has similar privacy plans and it’s going to be implementing those plans in the not too distant future.
Ethan Garr 00:03:39 Yeah. And I think there’s something else here that our long-term listeners would pick up on. When you hear Oren, describe how AppsFlyer customer obsession has been such a focal point and how they’ve had to lead their customers through this change. It reminded me that fast growing companies lead more than just their markets. They actually shape the landscape.
Sean Ellis 00:03:56 Yeah. And I know where you’re going with that. It’s it’s really, um, Y we both love the V box interview, um, where we really dove into that. And you’re right. Yeah. That’s why community led growth is picking up steam. So another interview that we did was with Atlassian and how they’re driving value across their vast portfolio, essentially companies that win aren’t at the mercy of the wins, they really harness the wins.
Ethan Garr 00:04:20 I see what you did there, son, you turned up a sailing reference as to hook me there.
Sean Ellis 00:04:24 Right? I did. And if you don’t know, Ethan and I both love sailing. So sometimes we throw that into the mix. And particularly for me this week, I’m, uh, I’m about to leave for a thousand miles sailing race. So it’s, it’s really top of mind for me, but, uh, Ethan, let’s, let’s keep things on track.
Ethan Garr 00:04:40 Yeah. I’m super jealous of your thousand miles sailing trip by the way. But, uh, sounds like a good idea. Let’s jump in with our,
Sean Ellis 00:04:55 I Oren, welcome to the breakout growth podcast.
Oren Kaniel 00:04:59 Hey Sean, thanks for having me.
Sean Ellis 00:05:01 Yeah. We’re, we’re excited to have you, and I’m joined by my co-host Ethan, Gar. Hey, Ethan.
Ethan Garr 00:05:08 Nice to see you.
Oren Kaniel 00:05:10 Nice to see you.
Sean Ellis 00:05:12 Yeah. So Oren, we, you know, we were looking at your LinkedIn profile and it says I’m having fun building the best company I would love to work for as an employee. Um, that’s really cool. So yeah, that’s, that’s the beauty of being a CEO is, and founders that you get to, uh, you get to, to shape that type of company. So for anyone in our audience, that’s not familiar with AppsFlyer. Can you describe the company and really who wins with your service?
Oren Kaniel 00:05:40 So maybe, you know, I, first of all, thank you very much. I think that there’s some very fortunate to actually building the company that I am an employee at. And I think that, uh, I have some experience as being, as an employee, both in big companies, enterprises and smaller companies. Uh, I learned a lot about the good stuff and challenged me and stuff, and this is what I’m been, uh, been trying to do in the last 10 years. Uh, so maybe, you know, uh, I can start with, uh, with the absolute story and how it actually came about, and then that would be
Sean Ellis 00:06:12 Fantastic. Yeah,
Oren Kaniel 00:06:14 I, it was, it was, uh, actually it was maybe 2010. I, uh, getting to 12 years, I got my first iPhone. Uh, I was working as a summer associate in, uh, in a VC in the east coast. Um, I did some work for them in the marketing and advertising, uh, vertical. I noticed a conflict of interest. Uh, so a lot of logos, um, I just didn’t get, which interests are the representing in the end of the day, we have a market of buyers and sellers, uh, buyers want to pay less and get more. So that’s want to get the more and get, get paid more and do less. This is nature of business. Uh, but, but like, I just couldn’t find any, even one company that represents the buyers in this ecosystem and the buyer’s interest in the brand and the consumer companies. Basically, I also noticed the lack of measurement.
Oren Kaniel 00:07:13 I just, you know, as an engineer, it was very hard for me to understand how companies making significant decisions in terms of budget locations and et cetera, et cetera, without having any form of data. Uh, um, it just was a mysterious for me. Um, then moving back, uh, to the first, actually the first 48 hours that I had, my first iPhone, it was used, I bought it in Craigslist. Uh, this is how cheap I was. Uh, I actually, I w I was sure that that Blackberry is the thanks. I was, wasn’t black. They user, I saw, I thought that this is, you know, apple do not have any, any chance to just, just, you know, compete with that. Obviously I was completely wrong and I realized that in 2010, um, and I really wanted to be a part of this, of this newly forming economy.
Oren Kaniel 00:08:11 Um, I think that that was pretty convinced that that mobile devices are going to change everything about every single thing in our lives. Um, and, uh, you know, unfortunately, unfortunately, actually, so, uh, back in then 2010 11, so all the major companies, you know, revolutionize mobile, like, uh, what’s applied social networks like Uber and stuff like that, uh, been there already. Um, and I’ve been thinking about how can we build something of value to every single app developer so they can become successful in this emerging economy. Um, um, and this is, this is, this is basically what we’re doing. I mean, it’s solving these two kind of major things that we noticed. One the lack of measurement, then maybe as an engineer, maybe it’s, this is kind of my mindset of, you know, making logical decisions companies that people could measure. And if you cannot measure it can improve.
Oren Kaniel 00:09:15 And if you cannot approve, you cannot deliver value to end users. That’s one, the second assumption that we had, uh, that, you know, for us to be successful or trusted in this ecosystem, uh, we must be independent non-biased and Seco system. Um, and specifically because we didn’t come from advertising or marketing backgrounds, um, it was awesome thing to work with brands and to work with developers and work with marketers. Uh, so we can really understand how the day to day looks like and what is lacking, um, and how we can improve their lives and, and help them make, uh, be more successful. Um, and I think that this is also something that the have defined our kind of Cox customer obsession kind of mindset, because this is how it started, uh, really so, um, you know, really working with customers and understanding their needs. So our platform is used by most of the consumer brands in the world.
Oren Kaniel 00:10:21 Um, so, you know, the bookings, Walmarts, Alibaba, Nike visa, most of the major gaming companies and also banking companies. So it’s kind of really very, very diverse portfolio of companies, actually, the last, uh, interesting use case that, uh, a company leveraged our technology is going based with our Superbowl ad, uh, that we powered the experience and part of the measurement. So, um, uh, actually these kind of things really makes me excited because, uh, we are in the business of enabling business, we are enabling, uh, uh, innovation to enable innovation with our customers and the ecosystem once the customer starts using our university’s decay, because yeah, this is, this is kind of based on our, not the reality in the market. Once they start using eyes, they get the, when they start use our API, uh, they can go ahead and leverage any other market company in the ecosystem.
Oren Kaniel 00:11:23 So our marketplace includes 10,000 different partners. So all the Facebooks, the Googles and teak docs of the word, but also 15 different verticals tech verticals, like all the marketing clouds like Salesforce, Adobe. Okay. Um, any kind of analytics company, or basically any company you can think of, um, because basically what happened, you know, for us to do measurement for our customers, um, they need to store, leverage our cloud and store the consumer data. Um, and, and that just by the fact that it’s already there in a very flexible format that can go ahead, um, and, and, and leverage that, then utilize that with different companies to, to kind of create this kind of collaboration, uh, in the ecosystem. And I think that the lesson, maybe we’re going to talk about it a little bit today, uh, how in this privacy preserving era, it’s actually connecting the dots and with what we do in the last 10 years, just, you know, 2020 and 2021 and 22 actually kind of connected the dots. So everything that we’ve, we’ve done in the past, whether there’s a lot of lack in it or, or different frameworks that we’ve done, but really it’s kind of a magically connecting everything together into, uh, into this, this time, which is, I think it’s extremely rare and unique time in the history of the digital economy specifically, I’m talking about the last two years and probably the next couple of years.
Ethan Garr 00:12:58 Can I, I just want to jump in or an ask you a quick question, going back to the early on, I mean, 2010, 2011 is really early on in this mobile ecosystem. Did companies realize they needed the things that you were offering that early? Or was it early on? Was it a different challenge now? People, everybody knows they need an AppsFlyer or they need a mobile measurement platform to help them, but back then, was it really a process of educating them?
Oren Kaniel 00:13:26 First of all? Yes. And it’s, it’s interesting because you said 2010 or 2011 or 2012 was early. It was early when we nine, nine and 10 years ago. Uh, if you look at the 20 22, 10 years from today will be very early in different aspects of that happening these days. Um, and I can tell you that when, when we started to work in the ecosystem, we really felt like the consumer business is, I wouldn’t say Saturday saturated, but really all the major components were there. Basically we selected B2B because it’s more fun to us, uh, enabling other companies to do great things. Uh, and we also went to, uh, to minimize the risk, uh, for us. So we’ve selected an ecosystem that in at least in our opinion, is going to continue to grow like crazy in the next 10 years. And we’ve selected mobile and data analytics, and we didn’t select any specific verticals. So we didn’t select gaming or streaming or dating or, or anything else or payments or anything else we’ve selected, uh, to build a platform that will allow any app developer anywhere, uh, to do great thing and to innovate. So this is, this is what we had in mind. That’s really, maybe you can repeat the question.
Ethan Garr 00:14:51 Uh, I was just saying, you know, early on, did companies realize that they needed this now? I think everybody understands how they, how they’re going to need data, how important it is, but back then it was a different world.
Oren Kaniel 00:15:02 Yeah, definitely. So companies thought that they measure, uh, so when we came into companies, they said, ah, we measure, we measure clicks, we measure, uh, impressions, we measure the CTR and then we’re like, yeah. Okay. And how do you measure return on investment and how do you measure the left-hand value and how do you measure all this things? And I did that, uh, at the, at the, at the beginning of the first couple of years, it was really, uh, we had competitors, but we didn’t really compete. It was really huge blue ocean that, uh, we’ve been working all the companies together, um, on educating the market.
Sean Ellis 00:15:48 I actually made it, I made an investment in a company that was doing something similar back around when you guys were getting started. So I saw that opportunity and thought it was, was, uh, a wide open opportunity because of the, the challenges with the mobile attribution. Unfortunately, that company didn’t, wasn’t able to execute. They pivoted in too many directions and, and, and eventually ran out of money. But, um, it was interesting how, uh, how, how challenging that mobile attribution, uh, issue was back then. And obviously there’s, there’s new challenges that come up with some of the privacy that’s happening now. But I had one question on, um, when you talk about the ecosystem and marketplace, so, um, do, do advertisers buy through you or, or do you, are you, are you a service that sits on top of the publisher or are you something that the advertiser buys directly as to compliment it to track? I’m just curious how that works.
Oren Kaniel 00:16:53 Uh, good question. So, uh, we sell them the cloud software service. So basically they buy the software that allows them to do great thing in the X system to collaborate with any one of our partners and to collaborate, leveraging our integrations. We are not sitting in the middle in terms of, uh, you know, contracts, payments, what they do and what they don’t do. We just provide kind of the, really the ultimate, uh, facilitate or platform, API APIs, analytics, business, logic that they can configure and apply, uh, on top of the data. And then on top of it, uh, they can make decisions on how to make payments because, uh, many of the cases, so last year we measure more than 40 billion us dollars in mobile ad spend. So basically how a customer’s allocated budget and allocated the payouts is based on the data and the measurement that we provide to the ecosystem to both ends.
Oren Kaniel 00:17:56 Um, and then, you know, they can leverage that with different, you know, marketing clouds and, and different other partners, uh, if they want, and then they have the flexibility to pick and select the right data points that they want to leverage. And also we allow privacy preserving kind of ways and integrations and aggregations, uh, so they can continue, uh, to collaborate with different companies in the ecosystem, in a privacy preserving manner. So really, I mean, moving back to the question, um, this is really kind of a platform. This is not, you know, like AWS and stuff like that. We really adding business logic and, and software on top of it. So what the right way to think about it, it’s like CRM for consumer business. So once you have the CRM for consumer business, you can kind of work and collaborate with the entire ecosystem, uh, based, based on that, and based on our using the universal SDK and API APIs, another aspect that we look at it as that we try to provide the minimum common denominator, uh, that will allow the entire ecosystem to work together.
Oren Kaniel 00:19:09 So we only adding to the platform, uh, things and functionalities that we are uniquely positioned to build and everything else should go to the market, uh, to, to build, uh, on top of it. So we really in the, you know, fanatic about enabling innovation in the ecosystem in, and then again, in other fields for us to do that, we don’t want to compete on quality of engineers and stuff like that. And we don’t want to build a product because it can be very profitable in the short term. Um, uh, we w we really want to build something that no one else can not because we have great engineers, just because of our unique positioning in, in, in, in the market
Sean Ellis 00:19:59 As you’re going through that, and that focus that you have, um, it has been, it sounds like it’s really served you well, as the, as the company is really successful now. Um, but it, but it is interesting to, to kind of take the path or look at the path, not taken with that other company that I mentioned that I had invested in because they, because there was so much opportunity in so many different next shiny objects to go chasing in another direction. Um, I’m just curious how, how you, how you stayed so focused on the opportunity and, and weren’t distracted by some of the tangential things.
Oren Kaniel 00:20:35 I think that this is a great question because the amount of opportunities for us to generate more money, more revenue quickly in the short term, basically it’s endless. Um, and from the beginning, we thought, in order for us to, to do something meaningful in this eco system, we really need to maintain, or not a of in this market and, and our independence and staying on a biased and really enabling innovation in this market. So we’re not going to kind of compete with our partners and, and it pure, you know, you know, softer building features. I just don’t believe in this. And I think that this is fundamental, at least for us, I can give you an example. Uh, at the beginning we’ve been focusing on not the vision and not the vision, by the way, attribution and measurement by itself. It’s extremely complex. It’s probably one of the most complex software that exists.
Oren Kaniel 00:21:41 I mean, you have one, maybe a couple of sets of rules, but the 10,000 different exceptions, this is, uh, and you need to consistently deliver it’s, it’s a mission critical platform. If, if, if this platform going down for even one minute, I’m going to get phone calls from the CEOs of this entire planet. Uh, um, uh, and this is, this is, this is not something that, that, that can can accord and also accuracy of the data and stuff like that, because really, uh, our, our, you know, our customers are making significant decisions, decisions based on that data. So just, just doing that right. It’s taken us 10 years and it’s not done yet. So is this, it’s endless by itself. Now I have patient and patient, um, is, uh, you know, I, I like languages, not that I know many languages, but in Hebrew patient is <inaudible> and said, I noticed from the verb, uh, seven, which is suffering because when you, when you have patient, um, it’s by definition means that there is some suffering in the short term and Demeter and investment for the long-term.
Oren Kaniel 00:23:04 So, yes, we had a lot of opportunities, but we said, okay, we’re here for the really long haul. W w we need to measure every single decision that we’re making in five and 10 years. And I want to be very specific about the timeframe, because when you say long-term, some people say, I think it’s two years. So I think that the minimum is five years in 10 years, and then 20 years, and then forever. And when you’re thinking about forever, uh, this is really liberating because you’re really thinking about what’s the most important thing. Um, and, and what is the vision of the company and what the building blocks that of, of, of the, of the creation, because hopefully this is the plan that this company will continue to be there when I’m gone, like gone, gone. And then I asked myself, uh, will the fact that I helped build it.
Oren Kaniel 00:24:02 I, I started it with great group people. Am I, am I still proud of, of the creation? Um, and, and I want to imagine myself, and I don’t know, 30 years, 40 years from today, I’m really feeling this pride and really sense of belonging to this creation. So if I meet one of our partners or customers or employees, we would love to meet each other and talk about the past. And, uh, both of us will feel that we’ve done every possible thing that we can in order to sell them and make them successful and not to something that, uh, can interfere with this. Uh,
Ethan Garr 00:24:52 So let, let me, let me ask you on that, because, so it’s incredible to see somebody have that long, the long view, because in tech, the long view is not something we hear about a lot, five years, 10 years, 20 years, we don’t, um, it is often because things are so dynamic and changing so quickly, but you mentioned suffering, and it sounds like one of the things that it seems like happened in the last few years is there’s been a lot, a big shakeup in the mobile industry. IDFA apple, Apple’s privacy changes really shook up the industry, and now it looks like you’re going to go through similar things with, um, with Google and, um, uh, you know, very, you know, when I, when I first heard about these changes, people from my background in mobile came were like, oh my God, this is going to kill companies. Like, AppsFlyer, I wasn’t so sure that it was going to kill companies like AppsFlyer, but I imagine that it caused a lot of suffering, or at least a lot of thinking on your part. I’m curious, is it the long view that gets you through that? And how did you approach that and how will you approach this next version of that with Google?
Oren Kaniel 00:25:58 Yeah, definitely. I think that this is a great question. And I think that this is a question, every single company that decided to be in the digital ecosystem mean to ask themselves and answer. Um, so first of all, uh, yes, there was a shakeup. And specifically, if, if you, if you talking about our, uh, our immediate competition, and maybe also to relate to the, to the previous question for us, it was really, really radical to focus on customers and staying independent. Non-biased again like a CRM. Um, so along all the opportunities in the market, like building profiles and graphs and persona graphs and selling, targeting data and building a net network, and maybe our own apps that will compete with our customers, our customers made all these mistakes. You know what maybe, maybe in my view, it’s a mistake and this is great for them.
Oren Kaniel 00:26:55 And it’s great that companies and people think differently about different things. Uh, w w w we think differently, uh, and, and, and we look at things in the longterm, um, and, uh, um, and we didn’t, we didn’t want to impact and not reality the S in the Sacco system. You know, if, if your vision is, is to make more money, it’s not really a vision. And I think that this is, this is kind of the turning point downhill in the long haul. I mean, I don’t think that any company vision can be, make more money, uh, or maybe say something else, and this is the intention or whatever it is. Uh, but for us is to really enable a better and safer digital experience to people.
Oren Kaniel 00:27:40 So every single move, uh, that is actually taking us once the, towards that vision of enabling a better, safer digital experience to everybody. This is great for us. Now, I think that apple, uh, uh, shakeup in the end of the day, if you look at, uh, if you look at that from the, uh, end users, uh, experience, I think that, I think that this is great. I mean, you can talk about the way you can talk about the collaborative out, and this is something that Google is putting in front of them, which is great. Well, let, let me, I’ll take you a couple of years, uh, backwards. We realized that we operate in the most dynamic, rapidly changing industries ever created, and working in this environment, you try to predict the future. Um, and in this environment predict, predicting the future is not something doable.
Oren Kaniel 00:28:44 And we’ve been thinking about what’s never going to change what is never going to change in 10 years from today in 2030 and in 2040. And we came up with four different things, security and privacy accuracy of the data that we provide to our customers, customer obsession, and enabling innovation. So specifically for privacy, this is something that we have in front of us for many years. So obviously the changes of apple and Google now is done. Didn’t came as a surprise. Obviously we didn’t know the details yet, but, uh, we really saw ourselves as, as, as someone that do not have interests in media and media selling and profiling, because this is what we don’t do that, uh, we are in the business of collaboration. Now, if you think about collaboration and measurement, and if you think about the web and mobile app, the entire collaboration of this entire ecosystem was based on cookies and identifiers, both users and leverages user level data.
Oren Kaniel 00:30:00 And when you collaborate based on user level data, you are creating privacy concerns. And then we ask ourselves, how can we put all the regulations and guidelines aside for a minute? Let’s entirely focus on the end user, what is the right thing for the end user? Then we came up with, uh, great innovations, uh, like I to get the advanced privacy conversion modeling SK, uh, 360 predictive analytics with lab measurement. Um, and we also released a couple of months ago, the privacy cloud and data, um, which is, which is really aiming to enable privacy, preserving ecosystem collaboration. We also announced a partnership with Intel on the, uh, privacy enhancing technologies, like homomorphic, encryption, and PSI private, certain to section. Um, and I think that putting everything aside and, and this is what I told the team, but everything that we’ve built aside and just think purely about the ecosystem and think purely about people and what, and, and what is, what can we do, you know, to enhance great value, great user experience and great privacy for everybody, for all of us.
Oren Kaniel 00:31:30 Um, again, I mentioned languages and here I preferred the English word software it’s soft. And it also means that you cannot fall in love with the product. You need to fall in love with the vision. You need to fall in love with the customer and build that software it’s soft, and you need to iterate on it. Um, and it’s really, uh, it’s, it’s really hard because when you’re saying, when you’re telling people, Hey, don’t fall in love with the product that you just built. Uh, it’s hard because there is a kind of an emotional connection, uh, but sometimes you need to do things differently. And that’s great because everything that you’ve done took you all the way, uh, here, then what’s the next step, given everything. And again, let me just maybe summarize this just a little bit. Uh, we had this invariance framework, things that never going to change.
Oren Kaniel 00:32:29 This is, again, privacy is not going to go away. It’s going to be there in 20, 20 30. I can promise you that. Uh, we think that we can predict to some extent like relations and changes and platform changes if we’ve entirely focused on people. And what’s the right thing for people build the right software and technology for that leveraged, uh, the massive ecosystem footprint that we have both with consumer companies, the largest brands that you can think of, and the largest platforms such as Google and Facebook and an apple search ads and tick-tock and Snapchat and all of them, um, and really creating something that can extend the value and experience to consumers and, and preserve their privacy. Another example is the escape network network for the listeners that don’t know, um, it’s kind of a framework that appar presented with, uh, apple track with the app tracking transparency framework.
Oren Kaniel 00:33:39 Um, but basically what apple delivered and built is kind of a six bits of mechanism for, for collaboration. Now, with the six bits of information, it can do multiple things. Uh, but the thing is that everybody kind of need to speak the same language. And we, we took the responsibility to make sure that the entire ecosystem is kind of maximizing this very limited six bits of information, six bits. It’s very limited to just 64 cases or data points that you can deliver. Um, very limited. Um, and I can tell you that it was very successful and today, um, uh, the entire market is, is operating on kind of the same framework. Uh, because again, once, once an app is including the six bits of information, it needs to work with all the Facebooks and the Googles of the world. So,
Sean Ellis 00:34:42 So I want to ask a question that kind of zooms back out to the counter, probably from the listener’s perspective with these changes. One of the things that, that, um, w will be pretty important is, uh, one of the things that really drove you, I think, in the business in the beginning is this idea of, of, uh, visibility to track return on investment. And, um, I think, I, at least from my perspective, it seems like that that visibility has, has gone down in the short term as, as it becomes harder to track return on investment. Um, you can, you can correct that assumption a second, but here’s, the question is as that visibility goes down, are you seeing ad rates, mobile ad rates drop or increase? Um, I could see a case for both of them that ad rates would go up as people just say, I can’t track it anyway, just throw a whole bunch into it or ad rates go down because I’m not going to spend if I don’t know for sure that I’m, uh, getting a return on investment. So if you can, you give a little bit of visibility there and where you see that effecting ad rates and, and visibility on that return on investment.
Oren Kaniel 00:35:51 Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with one, answer, everything, everything that you said is correct. Um, and again, maybe I can even challenge what is higher and lower because for some companies paying $10 or $30, or even at $100 for user acquisition costs is, is good because they can make more money out of it. And for some other companies, maybe it’s only one daughter or whatever it is. So it’s really, depending on the LOI, does it impact a lie? Yes, it does, because you cannot measure it in the same way with the same level of confidence. So before these changes, and now I’m talking about only in iOS before the change, you had a lot of confident companies, companies, uh, made significant decisions with a lot of confidence that they can invest $1 and get $2 out of it. Uh, which w which was great. And now they have less confidence because the ecosystem became much more complex.
Oren Kaniel 00:36:58 So you have different kinds of measures. So now you have in current reality and you have conversion modeling, and I got to get to the advanced privacy and the measure of ska network. And by the way, all these measures, uh, measure the in silo. So if you look at the scale network, it’s really siloed from, uh, the users that actually consented, uh, in the ATT framework. So we just recently introduced a single source of truth to exclude these users for mascot. This is, this is th th th th this was extremely complex. And now it’s 10 times even more, maybe a hundred times more complex. Uh, so if the confidence went, uh, lower than before, definitely yes. If the prices went higher or lower, it’s really dependent on the ones that actually making the investment. Um, I think
Sean Ellis 00:37:49 I’ve got to assume that they’re going lower. If you look at Facebook’s recent, uh, earnings report and, uh, as they are earning less, that would tell me that demand has dropped. And, and usually when demand drops prices drop, but I don’t have the visibility know that for sure.
Ethan Garr 00:38:06 Yeah, because I mean, I saw Facebook said that there, they expect their sales to be impacted $10 billion in 2022, just on Apple’s change. So I imagine it’s,
Oren Kaniel 00:38:16 I think that it just takes a little bit more time, um, to recover. And I’m very careful to do that because I think that by leveraging the privacy cloud and the data Cleveland concept, uh, daily coverage come very quickly, um, and by the way, any kind of concepts like that. Um, um, so, you know, and I don’t want to refer specifically to Facebook, and I think that this is true in general. Um, so the way
Sean Ellis 00:38:54 I think of the whole market though,
Oren Kaniel 00:38:57 To some extent yes. But, uh, the market is pretty significant and, uh, dynamic, and I think it will change that for sure. So,
Sean Ellis 00:39:08 So for your success, sorry, you then just one more in there. So for your success, do you think it’s a matter of trying to get back to the visibility that we had before, or is it simply if you can provide better visibility than any other solution out there, then, then you are the significant player in the, in the marketplace and the ecosystem, and, and you can help a lot more success, but we’ll never get back to those visibility levels that we had before. What’s, what’s sort of your feeling.
Oren Kaniel 00:39:39 Uh, so I believe not the, you know what I know, because it’s actually operational that you can get the exact same insights from the data without sharing user level data with each other. So Facebook can work or any other, any other company can work with any consumer brand company work with them in this data, clean room concept, they would not share user level data with each other. It means that the privacy of the users ease preserved. You, you do not do not have a chance to uniquely identify any user in this dataset, but the computation happens in this trusted data, clean room environment, and only the insights are shared with both parties. So the quality of decision-making is the same privacy is a hundred times better. And not only that, it’s a hundred times better than cookie and identifier and the identifier format. Uh, it’s, it’s better than any other user level data anonymization, because when you are anonymizing, you have two options.
Oren Kaniel 00:40:51 Whether re identification is fairly easy, or you need to strip so much data out of the user to the level that it’s not something that you can use. It’s not something that value for decision-making. So really the aggregation, um, is the way to go in terms of, uh, in terms of privacy. No, you know, we need to talk about privacy budgets or aggregations, and what kind of aggregation is good enough for privacy or yada yada, yada. And to think that this is the market you need to, uh, need to, uh, need to discuss and, and, uh, and decide on that. I mean, and by the way, I don’t even talk about the, after our privacy cloud, that data, they can be different in other companies. And we encourage, uh, competition on that front. Um, uh, what we suggest is something that is flexible enough for the companies to decide what is the right thing for their customers, so they can build it to top of it.
Oren Kaniel 00:41:53 They can bring their business logic or leverage the business logic that we’ve provided and built in the last 10 years. And notice said that data governance and compliance that they want to comply with. So some companies maybe, uh, would like to have better compliance or even better aggregations. And, and, and, and, and maybe to use, um, you know, cryptographic, uh, technologies in specific, uh, maybe sensitive data points, et cetera, et cetera. So they can define it. They can run it on a trusted environment that both companies can, uh, can, can share that as a CRM and use only the insights data cleanroom concept is something that is used in other verticals. So if you think about, I don’t know how the, if, if, if, if the listeners actually are aware of the concept, so let’s, maybe I’ll give an example, think about two hospitals that want to collaborate on healthcare records.
Oren Kaniel 00:42:49 Obviously one way for them is to just share records, anonymize no names, noises, and stuff like that, but they can really identify because the record is really identifying you so they can strip out the data, obviously not good. So what, why don’t they put their data in a trusted server so they can analyze it and make sure that the server never leaves user level data records only aggregations. And let’s say a good aggregation would be thousand people, and you never let get a user level data, uh, exchange between the two companies. And this is what we have in mind. And then the question is, what is the business logic? What is the measurement? What is the kind of the kind of analytics that you want to apply on this data,
Ethan Garr 00:43:36 Stepping back from? I mean, that’s amazing. And like you think about clean rooms and all this, it’s amazing where you will be able to take the technology. Think you have a team of over 1400 people now. So quite a large company, how did you, how did you lead them through the, through this changing environment and how do you, how do you make sure that it’s the vision that stays in focus and you don’t lose sight of that as these big threats or big challenges come up?
Oren Kaniel 00:44:02 Yeah. So I think that first of all, being very open and honest, uh, about the challenge, I think that as a company, we bring practicing change and challenges. And the last couple of years, specifically in the last two years, I think COVID, and then that, um, this is something that we are talking internally in the company that every change and every challenge is an opportunity. I encourage people to think about their personal life, the personal challenges and the personal relationships. So tell me there, if there is one person in the world that do not have challenges in relationships, so this, these people probably do not have relationship because once tell me one company, one business that do not have challenges, all the companies have challenges. Now, the question is, how do you take this? Do you leverage that and think about the opportunities that presented in front of you, or you’re just letting fear and anxiety tool. And I think that, uh, we’ve been practicing it over and over and over again, because this is the only way to survive the Sacco system. This is the only way to survive the digital ecosystem. This ecosystem changes rapidly, whether you like it or not, I’m here because I really like it. And <inaudible> only if it boils down to the ability of companies to be agile and Darvin said that, right? So not the smartest and not the strongest, but the most age of spaces we survive. And I think that he was referring to the digital ecosystem.
Oren Kaniel 00:45:43 Yeah. So, so this was, and still is one of the core components for us as a company. And I think that everything, any other company need to kind of, uh, uh, think about it, then practice it. Um, and, and you know what, I, so, so many, uh, people in the company that was that they had a lot of challenges. And if you think about it, the 1500 people in, in the company, 20 countries, uh, well, we see a lot of people challenges. And I think that, uh, what we’ve seen is people thinking their challenges and, and seeing them as opportunities. I, I can, I have a lot of, maybe we can have a podcast on it. Um, um, I think that this is, this is, this is amazing. And again, we are in the business of software. We’re not being in the business of real estate.
Oren Kaniel 00:46:33 We’re not building buildings. I don’t need to, uh, make a, a huge mess in the end of the day. Um, it’s often, uh, if we don’t fall in love with the products and we fall in love with the vision and we fall in love with the ecosystem customers, I think that we can do great stuff, great things. And I think that having a great vision is something that, uh, people find, uh, meaning in their work and meaning in their challenge. And it was very, very difficult and challenging two years. I mean, in 2020, when apple introduced the, uh, S 14 in June, 2020, uh, actually I felt like, uh, apple support center, we had hundreds and thousands and thousands and thousands of cores of, uh, worried customers and partners about the changes and what we’re going to do. And can we talk with apple and can we do a lot of other stuff to, to, to help them survive this, this massive chain?
Oren Kaniel 00:47:32 So yes, you can take it in the wrong way I believe. And you can take it in the positive way. I mean, companies looking at us as someone that can solve their problems and, uh, uh, mitigate that risk and help them grow. And, and we take it with both hands, what what’s better than that, that having phone calls of customers telling you, Hey, we have this significant challenge. Can you help us? I think that this is amazing. And, uh, uh, and we love it. I love it. And, uh, uh, I think that the people here that come and join the company also love it. I hope because if not, they’re in the wrong business, I mean,
Ethan Garr 00:48:07 But I think, sorry, go ahead. Oh, I was just going to say, it’s interesting that you, um, that you look that you look at the bigger challenges of the company at sort of that micro level with your employees in their own personal challenges. I actually just, as I was kind of prepping for this conversation, I was seeing that you have, like, I think about 30 employees in Ukraine and we’re going through this crisis in Ukraine right now. And I imagine that, um, you know, obviously that’s a much different level of crisis and challenge, but, um, it does seem like a company that’s that has it’s has a really good longterm vision and then, uh, thinks about the challenges over the longterm would help. You know, it’d be very helpful for, you know, having that same view for its employees and the short view and a long view.
Oren Kaniel 00:48:53 The fact, I think that, I think that, you know, you can say customer obsessed and you can say a lot of things, but in the end of the day, it starts and end with the employees and, uh, how, uh, inspired they are, uh, to take these big challenges and, and supporting them in the growth, personal growth and career growth, uh, giving them the right tools and environment. I think that people are product of their environment. And, and, and if you provide people with great environment, diversify opinions, diversity, and, and you know, what, just to allow them to be themselves, to allow them to not know things and to allow them to make mistakes. And, and again, I’m moving back to the most elementary thing, which is kind of stupid, is to be themselves. And it’s really hard. It’s really easy to say it’s really hard to implement what it is.
Oren Kaniel 00:49:51 What does it mean to be, to be myself? And I can tell you that the tech, it took me a lot of years and many, many, many years. Um, and only maybe in the last couple of years, I realized what it really is. Maybe I think what it is, but, uh, if you ask me, I feel it, um, uh, because if I want people to be themselves and act naturally and be not embarrassed to big mistakes, I need to act the same way. And if I act the same way, and I, uh, be honest about my truth, maybe it’s not the truth. Maybe you’re going to have different throughs. Um, and if I allow myself to make mistakes, and sometimes I do typos on slack and stuff like that, and people, Hey, you had type one. I’m like, okay, you know, everybody have typos and that’s perfectly okay because people will feel comfortable sharing their opinion, even if they don’t have perfect English, even if, uh, English is not their mother tongue.
Oren Kaniel 00:50:48 And they think that this is, this is critical, and I keep the type of there. Uh, um, and this is not a way, uh, also to make sure that employees and people know that CEOs and management and board members are just normal people. And, and if they see these people as normal people, like, like, like them, they will act naturally and will allow themselves to think about the market challenges and how can we mitigate them. And, uh, in the end, they, they provide the solutions. They work with the PO, the partners, they work with the customers and they provide the feedback back to the product and back to engineering and, and how can we enable them to be really all in and, and to be motivated and to really feel an act lack of founders is one of our beliefs. And how can you enable them to really feel and act like a founder, um, is, is, is, is, is really hard. Um, but it starts the end that they will just be themselves and, and provide their point of view
Sean Ellis 00:51:57 Yeah. On that theme of mistakes. And when you look back, I mean, the company has been around now for, for, um, you know, over a decade. Um, when you look back, are there any mistakes that you’ve had to course correct that stand out of, uh, you know, obviously obviously there was no company killing mistakes up to this point, but, um, it’s, it’s almost impossible to have a, a flawless journey mistake free along the way. So is there, is there any, um, areas that, that really stand out that, uh, you wish you would have spotted something sooner or, or a mistake that you wanna highlight that you made along the way?
Oren Kaniel 00:52:34 One of the things that, uh, that allowed me in the last couple of years, specifically in the last two years to take some time to myself, to disconnect, um, think read and to use a lot of imagination. I wish I had the time. Maybe I should, maybe it hadn’t then maybe I had time to do that in the past, but, uh, because, uh, you know, at the beginning you do so many things and, you know, the early days, uh, when you go to sleep, the company is going to sleep and there is no customer service, nothing. Right? So, um, uh, that’s one, um, another framework that they recommend, uh, I always recommended my managers and people that they work with, but I also say to myself is letting yourself go from the position, uh, writing a job description, uh, for your replacement, um, thinking about the current challenges and the future challenges, and then sleep on it one night, wake up and say, okay, this is me.
Oren Kaniel 00:53:46 And I promise you that, that there is a gap between when the company needs that position, uh, and where you at. Um, and that’s okay because the company is growing fast. And the question is, how can we keep this gap from not growing, maybe shrinking, but not growing too much. Um, and I do this practice myself. If I do that often enough, maybe, maybe I could do more because this is really kind of helping you, analyzing you. You probably, you are the best person to analyze you. If you have the right mindset, then if you have the right time to actually go ahead and do it, and be very honest with yourself and saying, okay, that’s okay here. I’m doing okay. And here, not really. And now what should I do to improve that? So I think that, I think I’ve been doing it. And I think that this is how I grew. Uh, and, and, and by, by the way, most of the, the team here, the management that are here for 6, 7, 8, 9 years, uh, starting from, you know, doing everything pretty, everybody started from junior positions, you know, so includes,
Sean Ellis 00:55:06 Retain the team. Yeah.
Oren Kaniel 00:55:08 It’s retain and grow. It’s not, it’s, it’s really, really grow. And every single day, every week, every quarter or every year. Um, and that’s really hard because so many reasons, but there are a lot of advantages also disadvantages that you need to work on. Um, but, uh, yeah,
Ethan Garr 00:55:30 I think that’s probably a good place for us to wrap up as we’re running short on time, but I, we always ask one question, um, to wrap up and I wanted to ask you, what do you feel like you understand about growth now that maybe you didn’t understand as well? A couple of years ago
Oren Kaniel 00:55:48 That it’s hard,
Ethan Garr 00:55:53 Maybe the best answer we’ve had yet.
Sean Ellis 00:55:56 Yeah. I love, I love the long pause before the very simple answer.
Ethan Garr 00:56:04 And Shawn, have you noticed that too?
Sean Ellis 00:56:07 I have noticed that too. Um, so no, that’s great. And I just want to share a couple of my key takeaways, cause I think there’s some, some really great ones here. And so, um, that the biggest is, is, you know, as you, as you kind of referenced Darwin along the way and agility that’s needed to, to survive and thrive, you know, my, my initial instinct going into this call was, boy, I would hate to be where you guys are. This sounds really like a tough place to be. But as you, as you’ve talked through it in your conviction that, um, your conviction, that the same decision level, the same, uh, ability to make great decisions are, are on the horizon or may, or maybe already here with AppsFlyer. But if, if that’s the case and the complexity has increased significantly, then that actually puts you guys in a great place because now your solution is more critical than ever.
Sean Ellis 00:57:04 If, if, because, you know, from, from the early days when you started with attribution, um, it was a really hard problem, but it was a problem that was starting to be solved in many ways. And this has brought in a lot of new challenges to where I think the, the, the solution, uh, that that is needed for today’s challenges in a, in a more privacy, uh, centric world is, is one that, um, is, is probably a lot more of a winner takes all. Um, and, and so, you know, if that’s, if that’s the path that things are on, then, then you guys are in a great place. I appreciate you sharing the journey that you’ve, you’ve taken to get to this point, because it, um, I think it, it, it would be easy to diversify and say in the worst case scenario, this would happen. And so let’s get other parts of our business going, but you stayed really true to the problem. And I think you’re, you’re in a place where a lot of, uh, companies are gonna really be able to benefit because they’ve got great solutions and they need to cost effectively get them to their, to their customers and, and hopefully do it in a privacy friendly way.
Oren Kaniel 00:58:12 Yeah. But maybe it just meant just do it, do that, uh, thinking about the future. I really want to mention the, metaverse not the meta company, but the myth versus this concept. And I think that, uh, in the end of the day, the decision is very simple at this for us. Um, and, and, and I think that there’s one thing that we could own agree on a mean, I mean, mark Zuckerberg share this vision themes. We need share this vision for the metaverse, you know, couple of years. Um, uh, and I think that there is one thing that we can all agree on is that, uh, uh, the manifest or the web, whatever is really dependent on interoperability and collaboration of the entire ecosystem. So it’s not going to be owned or one company, one major thing. Um, so if we believe two things, it’s two assumptions and two things that privacy is here. The say and collaboration is a critical building block of the future. Uh, we need to have privacy preserving technology to collaborate. And this is basically what we want to build. We want to build that infrastructure that allows collaboration and the privacy preserving way simple as that. And even if the virus is going to be this vision or that vision or whatever, it is, two components, privacy and collaboration, and this is what we want to enable.
Ethan Garr 00:59:27 Yeah. It’s interesting. I just want to also mention, as you’ve gone through this, you keep talking about the future and trying to predict the future, which is so hard. Um, but I thought what’s what stood out for me is that the whole time you’ve mentioned that as you look at the future, there are things that you look at as these are the things we know to be true, that won’t change. You said privacy, accuracy, customer obsession, and enabling innovation. Those are things that won’t change for you. I think knowing what, what won’t change is really a good way to stay grounded on the things that will, as you go through the things that will change. So it’s been really interesting to chat with your
Sean Ellis 00:59:59 Thank you on that fantastic conversation and, uh, for everyone tuning in. Thanks for listening.
Speaker 5 01:00:05 Thank you.
Speaker 1 01:00:12 Thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform, and while you’re at it subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week.