Durham’s Appia raises $4.5 million in new funding

dranii@newsobserver.comNovember 14, 2013 

Fast-growing Appia has raised $4.5 million in debt financing that it plans to plow into accelerating its expansion and developing innovative new products.

The Durham-based apps purveyor plans to announce Thursday that it obtained the new debt financing from Maine venture capital firm North Atlantic Capital. It’s the second round of debt financing provided by North Atlantic, which also supplied $5 million in April.

“It bolsters our balance sheet,” said Ken Hayes, Appia’s chief revenue officer. “We think companies with the strongest balance sheets are best-positioned to win in the final analysis.”

Appia has 84 employees, up from 60-plus at the end of July.

Hayes said that the new funding will enable the company to add employees – “as much as we need” – but it hasn’t set a hiring target.

“We’re still in 2014 planning,” he said.

Led by CEO Jud Bowman, Appia was spun out of Durham software company Motricity in 2008. The privately held company doesn't specify revenue, but Hayes said this year’s revenue is expected to be more than four times what Appia generated last year. That would be on top of a tripling of revenue in 2012.

Appia is capitalizing on the expanding smartphone market and the time that smartphone users devote to apps.

“We’re very bullish on the market,” Hayes said.

Appia, which also has raised $30 million in venture capital, got its start building and operating app stores for AT&T, Verizon, Samsung and many others. Its business jumped to a new level beginning in the spring of 2011, when it ventured into what it calls “sponsored apps.”

Sponsored apps involve companies such as Facebook and Vonage paying Appia $1 or more each time one of their apps is downloaded. In addition to featuring the apps prominently in its app stores, Appia also advertises the apps elsewhere to maximize its revenue.

Appia boasts that it has driven the download of more than 63 million sponsored apps to date, which makes it No. 2 behind Facebook in the category.

With more than 1 million apps available in both the Apple and Google apps stores, it’s getting harder for apps to get consumers’ attention, Hayes said. That’s where Appia comes in.

“At the end of the day, we drive the mobile audience to companies that have mobile apps,” he said.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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