Revenue growth fuels hiring spree at Durham-based Appia

dranii@newsobserver.comJuly 31, 2013 

Apps purveyor Appia has embarked on a hiring spree fueled by its outsized revenue growth.

The Durham-based company, which has more than 60 employees after adding seven workers in the latest quarter, has about 25 positions that it is looking to fill.

“We just brought on a full-time internal recruiter just to help us get people in the door faster,” CEO Jud Bowman said.

The privately held company doesn’t disclose revenue, but Bowman said revenue through the first six months of this year was double what Appia generated through all of 2012. That’s on top of revenue tripling last year.

Appia, which spun out of Durham software company Motricity in 2008, built its business by building and operating app stores for the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Samsung and Vodaphone. But its business began to rev up dramatically in April 2011 when it moved into what it calls “sponsored apps.”

With sponsored apps, companies like Facebook, Vonage and Skype – more than 100 in all – pay Appia from $1 to several dollars each time one of their apps is downloaded. Appia initially earned that money by featuring the apps prominently in its app stores, but as the business took off it expanded to advertising the apps elsewhere.

“We think of Appia essentially as a mobile ad network,” Bowman said. “You might be playing a game on your phone and … you might see a banner ad or some kind of an ad in the game. If that ad is for another app, it’s a good chance it’s from Appia.”

In that example, Appia would share the revenue it receives from the app sponsor when an app is downloaded with the game company that hosted the ad.

In the second quarter, Appia drove the download of more than 10 million sponsored apps. Bowman said he believes that puts the company second to Facebook, which drove 25 million downloads in the latest quarter.

“We are hopeful that … this is going to get the attention of other big players in the industry,” he said.

Appia’s sponsored apps had been focused solely on Android devices, but at the end of the first quarter it launched new technology that supports Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS.

That was a big factor in the company’s second-quarter spurt.

“It scaled beyond our wildest expectations,” Bowman said.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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