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SurveyMonkey expands into app insights after quietly acquiring Renzu, founded by Zynga alums

TechCrunch TechCrunch 6/04/2016 Ingrid Lunden

SurveyMonkey has made a name for itself with cloud-based tools that let you build and analyse online surveys. Now the company wants to use its foothold in one area of market research to expand into another. Today, SurveyMonkey is launching a new business offering app analytics, specifically competitive mobile app insights.

SurveyMonkey Intelligence — as the new product is called — is built on the acquisition of Renzu, a small startup founded by a team of Zynga alums. SurveyMonkey seems to have quietly purchased the company in November 2015, although the companies are only officially making it public today.

Priced on a freemium basis (with a basic set of insights at no cost, and paid tiers starting at $79), Intelligence will start with data tracking around 1,000 of the most popular mobile apps in the U.S. market. Users will be able to track areas like active usage by weekly and monthly periods, churn, and engagement; leaderboards based on various metrics; audience demographics; and download and revenue numbers; creating graphics that let you chart how different apps perform versus others. Like this:

SurveyMonkey Intelligence is hitting the market with the power of its existing business preceding it — a business that SurveyMonkey’s CEO Zander Lurie said in an interview is already “super profitable”, generating revenues of over $200 million with a profit margin of over 30%, with the bigger company today reportedly commanding a $2 billion valuation.

SurveyMonkey has yet to set a date for any “future liquidity event,” as Lurie refers to the prospect of a public offering or other fundraising. But the fact that the company is launching this new product is a sign of how it hopes to diversify its business and expand its position as an audience data powerhouse. And it’s not always a guarantee that success in one area will lead to striking gold in another. Just last month, the company let go of 100 people — 13% of staff — as it restructured its survey products for enterprises.

“I don’t wake up every day and think, ‘How do we increase revenues from our customers?’ I think, ‘How do we enable great decisions?'” Lurie said. And with that, he draws a link between the company’s legacy and new products: “ We are in the feedback business.”

Nonetheless, with Intelligence, SurveyMonkey is entering a very crowded space, competing against the likes of App Annie, Mixpanel, Appcelerator, Flurry, SimilarWeb and many more.

But while there are already a lot of products on the market today offering some degree of competitive insight on other apps, Renzu came into existence because some of the world’s top app developers believed that what was on the market already was not good enough.

“Working on the ‘With Friends’ team at Zynga, everyone regularly freaked out when a new game suddenly became popular,” said Abhinav Agrawal, the co-founder of Renzu who was Zynga’s VP of games and GM for the With Friends franchise. “All we could do is rely on hype. When QuizUp hit the market, we dropped everything to create a competitor. It turned out to be unnecessary [QuizUp’s boom was short-lived] but it did mean all of our other projects stalling for three months.”

And that happened more than once (which is probably a separate story in itself about the challenges of life at Zynga/a mobile games studio). There had to be a smarter and more foolproof way to look beyond the hype, he and his other ex-Zynga co-founders Arjun Lall and Jason Tomlinson thought, and that’s what led to them building Renzu. (It appears that all three are joining SurveyMonkey.)

While SurveyMonkey’s online survey product is opt-in by its nature, the new Intelligence service takes the company into a new frontier when it comes to collecting data: Agrawal said that the insights it picks up do not come from the app makers, but from a representative panel of tens of thousands of users who opt in to provide information on how the apps are used. In exchange, Agrawal said that users are given insights about their own app and data usage, or are offered a donation to make to a charity of their choice.

SurveyMonkey to date has raised $700 million, and Renzu is the company’s sixth acquisition. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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