Wednesday, January 18, 2017

WalkMe acquires to add mobile A/B testing and engagement

After raising $50 million last year on a $400 million valuation, WalkMe — a company that offers on-screen site guidance and engagement analytics — has made an acquisition to beef up its presence in mobile. The startup has acquired Abbi, specialists in mobile A/B testing and app engagement (“Abbi” is both a reference to A/B testing and BI, business intelligence).

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Abbi, based out of Israel like WalkMe (which has another HQ in San Francisco) had only raised around $1 million in funding.

Dan Adika, the co-founder and CEO of WalkMe, told TechCrunch that WalkMe will be retiring the Abbi brand and integrating its services into WalkMe’s platform. In the process, it will also be migrating Abbi’s existing customers.

(Currently WalkMe already has some 1,000 larger enterprises and “thousands” of small and medium businesses using its services, including MasterCard, PayPal, Pandora, BT, Unilever, Prudential, Panasonic, U.S. Postal Service, Sony, State Farm, Comcast, IBM, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Home Depot, HP, J.P. Morgan Chase, Verizon, and Toyota.)

In an interview, Adika told TechCrunch that the company had been on the hunt for a bold-on acquisition that could let WalkMe further expand the kinds of services it offers from basic web to mobile, both to cover the needs of existing customers but also to snag more mobile-only properties. Abbi interested WalkMe because as Adika saw it, Abbi was addressing the biggest challenge for mobile developers today: “The focus has shifted from trying to get downloads, to getting usage of the actual app,” he said.

The problem with a lot of app engagement platforms is that they don’t usually take into account enough specifics about the user and environment in which he or she is seeing a piece of content. “Depending on your location, you can have a completely different user experience,” he said. “You could end up seeing the opposite of what you want at a particular moment.”

Abbi uses a variety of machine learning and AI techniques to find those right moments. The company said that it collects some 300 session parameters per second and correlates those with the piece of content that it might show you (whether it’s an offer for a product, or a suggestion of an app you might like, or something within the app that might interest you), and it also uses those parameters and resulting big data lookalike profiling to develop a profile of your own “emotional sentiment” at a given moment. It also provides predictive analytics to give you an idea of how to target future audiences.

This goes hand-in-hand with how WalkMe has grown and evolved its own business. Starting out originally as a piece of software that let web developers create walk-through guides for their sites or services, WalkMe has more recently been using that same product as a route to collecting (anonymised) data on how site visitors navigate and use sites, essentially turning a help-tool into an analytics tool for site publishers to get a better idea of their audiences, what they like or don’t understand on a site, and what they are trying to get done.

Now, as we see a greater shift into personalisation, the tech that WalkMe is picking up from Abbi could help WalkMe extend those kinds of analytics into mobile, and provide much more tailored content as a result. “To be relevant in mobile, you need to anticipate what the user interaction will be like, is and what is the right timing,” Adika said. “You need to know that the user is at the right time and place to be approached, and that is what Abbi is doing.”

It’s not clear how many customers Abbi had prior to the deal closing.

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