We asked SimilarWeb why they made the acquisition and how it’s been growing from a 60-person to 300-person team within two years
When this reporter was told that SimilarWeb had big news for Geektime, she was honestly dubious. The company, which compares competing websites and apps with in-depth analytics, had recently raised a $25 million Series E round on October 26. What news could they realistically have so soon? A new feature we probably wouldn’t cover (sorry)?
She was wrong.
On Thursday, SimilarWeb announced that they have acquired Quettra, a 2-year-old mobile analytics startup based in Silicon Valley that provides potentially game changing insights such as inferred demographics, brand affinities, and tips for why users uninstall apps. According to a Geektime source, the deal is estimated to be around $10 million.
Quettra raised an impressive $2.9 million seed round in October 2014 and is led by top notch talent such as Founder Ankit Jain, the former head of Search and Discovery for Google Play. As part of the technology acquisition, which is also an acquihire, Jain will join SimilarWeb’s Executive Group in the Product Team. Quettra’s nine-person team will work under SimilarWeb, and who will use the Quettra crew as the initial core of its Silicon Valley office.
This is SimilarWeb’s third acquisition since their founding. In July, they bought Israeli startup Swayy for less than $5 million, which included acquiring their staff and content recommendation technology. In attempting to stave off rising competition, SimilarWeb purchased TapDog in 2014, who was building a similar platform to theirs.
In addition to their buyout of Quettra, the company has also announced their intention to further grow their team and is already planning new hires.
What does ‘inferred demographics’ really mean?
When we spoke with SimilarWeb’s Senior Director of Corporate Marketing Ariel Rosenstein, he told Geektime that what was most intriguing about Quettra’s technology was its ability to “infer demographics.” Rosenstein explained that, “The developers give Quettra some of the data (about their audience), and the rest is based off of inferred demographics.”
For example, “If you see someone on Instagram every 10 minutes, then they are probably in the 13-17 age range. They do this based on app usage, user behavior, etc.” If this indeed provides accurate demographic information, this could be huge for app and web marketers and bad news for the folks who are still sticking their finger in the air in an attempt to determine which way the wind is blowing.
Rosenstein emphasized the quality of Quettra’s team as well. “Part of the acquisition is our expansion to Silicon Valley. He’s built an amazing team. It could take years to hire nine people of that quality.”
How SimilarWeb grew from a small plugin 8 years ago to a 300-person company
For the first four years of SimilarWeb’s existence, it went through the ups and downs that a lot of startups face. While it created a nice plugin that would show you similar websites, and had millions of users, they had no clear path towards monetization.
Then they had an aha! moment in 2011. As Or Offer, SimilarWeb’s CEO and founder, relayed to Geektime, “We should kill Alexa!”
While Alexa was the leading website ranker, bots could easily impact its scoring because its data was collected from just one source: the website it was ranking. SimilarWeb wanted to make the internet transparent.
From 2011 to 2013, SimilarWeb built a platform that could verify website traffic not just from one source, but from 5,000. This expensive investment into their technology and data science team paid off: just under $64 million of their total $65 million in funding raised to date has come after the launch of their website ranking and market intelligence platform.
The company now monitors and produces analytical data on over 80 million websites and 3 million mobile apps from over 190 countries around the world, with customers including eBay, Google, and Nike.
“120 was hell.”
When we asked Offer what it’s like to transition from managing a 60-person startup a year and a half ago to a 300-person company today, he bluntly responded, “It’s tough. It’s never become easier. It’s always become harder. The more employees that you have, the more headache that you’re going to get.”
He continued, “It’s a simple rule. Every human being creates a headache. Let’s say you have 10 people, they have double 10 relationships. You add another one, and every one is like a graph of complication. And human beings are very complicated animals, as you know.”
Specifically regarding SimilarWeb’s growth, he said, “Up to 10, 20 people, nothing happens. Forty to 50 was tough. Sixty was terrible. Eighty was horrible, 120 was hell, [and] 150 was hell.”
During this lament, Rosenstein commented, “When I was at another company, which grew to 400, it was different. It’s been like skiing here. It’s been fast and smooth.”
“I know it’s tough for you,” Rosenstein quipped, “Nothing’s ever good enough for Or. Or is like a Jewish mother, he’s always pushing you to be the best.”
“You need to be the best with everything you do,” Offer responds, “If you’re here, you should be the best.”
Rosenstein follows up in agreement to Offer, adding that, “Having the best HR helps.”
While being an entrepreneur may be hard, Offer told us that founding a successful company is, “A lot about character. I’m not a quitter.”