How we (accidentally) discovered mParticle
Today, mParticle announced its Series A funding from Social Capital. I wanted to share how we came to know and love the company, and why we think all mobile marketers and app developers worth their salt should be using this platform.
At Social Capital, we both invest in and help grow early stage technology companies. The mission of our Growth team is simple — to increase the value of our portfolio companies through our expertise in product, data science and user acquisition. I’m a partner at Social Capital where I run our user acquisition (UA) practice — a term for describing all the measurable marketing tactics one can employ to increase a user base.
It was actually our work on the Growth team that led us to mParticle, when we engaged with Sprig shortly after investing in its Series B round.
One of Sprig’s top priorities early on was to scale its mobile user acquisition efforts. In order to track the performance of future marketing campaigns, we needed to install an attribution SDK into the app.
Anyone who develops or markets apps knows precisely how hard it is to get mobile developer time to implement a 3rd party SDK.
Unless you are Yahoo, most companies don’t have hordes of mobile developers sitting around idle. And typically incremental developer time is better spent working on higher-value features and new product releases. The conversation between marketing and product managers typically goes something like this:
Marketer: “We need to integrate the Acme SDK into our iOS app to run these XYZ marketing campaigns.”
PM: “Got it. All devs are working on the v2 release. We can slot that SDK in 6 weeks.”
Marketer: “But it only takes 1 day to implement and test this SDK….we need it now to hit our quarterly targets”
PM: “OK I can give you 0.5 days of engineering time in two Tuesdays from now but that’s it — make it count.”
How I feel after these conversations:
We decided to use Kochava’s SDK for attribution. But that was only one of four SDKs we were planning to integrate — we still had to implement marketing & push automation, deferred deep linking, and any subsequent analytics products we might need.
It was a painful pill to swallow, but we had to come to terms with the fact that we could only realistically implement one or two new SDKs per quarter without impacting precious developer time and delaying our product release.
About the same time, I attended the MAU 2015 conference where I met the mParticle team. It turns out they had anticipated the ecosystem fragmentation which led to this ‘SDK fatigue’ two years prior and had built a data platform that integrated with dozens of mobile marketing and analytics APIs that removed the need for SDKs.
As a friend recently put it, installing an attribution SDK in our app before investing in a data platform was putting the cart before the horse…and mParticle was the horse we had been looking for.
We decided to implement mParticle based on the fact that we would be saving future developer time and could launch new mobile services with the push of a button. mParticle put together a data capture plan for all Sprig events and helped us implement it. (Customer Success pro tip: mParticle created a dedicated Slack channel for us which made communicating with their devs and and troubleshooting hyper efficient — highly recommend to all b2b companies).
We went live with mParticle in August 2015 and were ready to turn on our acquisition engine. But we weren’t prepared for how impactful this universal SDK would be for our campaigns.
It turns out that since mParticle tracks every event coming into the app at the device identifier level, it stores a copy of all our users and in-app actions.
Within mParticle, since all of our customer data was exposed to us at the device identifier level, we had the ability to create a near-infinite number of custom audiences based on combinations of user events and attributes. Through mParticle’s API-level integrations we were then able to ship those audiences in real-time to each desired advertising platform without dealing with messy CSVs and keeping them automatically updated.
It was magic.
While we weren’t the first to realize this (other savvy marketers beat us to it) we were very excited about the impact the platform had on our marketing efforts.
Word quickly spread to our investment team. Over the next few weeks, we had multiple meetings with the team and inked terms for a Series A financing. We believe mParticle has the opportunity to become a transformational solution for marketers. And app developers representing 750 million monthly active users have voted alongside us.
It’s not every day that our Growth work with existing portfolio companies leads us to new investments, but we’re grateful when it does. I’m looking forward to working with the mParticle team for years to come — both as an investor and a user.