I’m excited to announce that Branch has raised $35 million in new financing — bringing our total raised to $53 million. We’re now 50 people and plan to double in size by the end of the year. That’ll be one hundred extremely passionate and hard-charging people working hand in hand with our incredible partners to make the mobile ecosystem a better place.
At Branch, we view fundraising as a tool to help us execute on our mission: solve mobile discovery by connecting users to relevant app content through deep links. With this fundraise 2016 will be the year where we go from laying the foundation to erecting a building on top of the deep linking platform we’ve been crafting for the last year.
Why does the mobile app ecosystem need to change?
Today, it’s extremely difficult to build a business around mobile apps. We know this first hand. We spent over a year building, launching, and attempting to grow a viable mobile business. Ultimately, we struggled with the inability to link and deep link to our app while trying to drive growth. We built Branch to solve our needs for deep linking (sharing, advertising, emails, and referrals).
The difficulty resides mostly with the barriers erected by the ecosystem. With more than 500,000 new apps launching every year at this point, the market is becoming saturated and it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out. The chance of success is starting to approach lottery-like odds.
The market has arrived at this point because there are not any new, accessible channels for app discovery. It is still dominated by the top trending charts on the app stores, which can feature at most 10 unique apps per week. Many of the same apps that have existed for the last 5+ years still occupy those precious slots, so cracking the top 10 may feel like a Sisyphean task. Additionally, users are not primed to search for and discover new apps. As compared to the web world, where you might visit hundreds of websites per week, users only use about ten apps per week…if that.
This is one of the reasons that costs-per-install have gone through the roof on Facebook. The only practical way to grow your business is to spend your way to the top. The app adoption power law is harsh.
We will fix this.
How can deep linking fix discovery?
Deep links unlock discovery on the web because they allow people to find individual web pages that contain the content that they find interesting. Google, Facebook, Reddit, etc., are effectively huge databases of deep links to various websites. With the ability to search these links, every corner of the web is just a few clicks away.
Mobile deep links will do the same for mobile apps
People don’t want more apps. People want app content — to watch an exciting video, laugh at a picture, try a new recipe, or buy a product. The problem is that apps weren’t designed to have individual, addressable pages like websites do. Most importantly, there used to be no way to route new users to them if they did.
Mobile deep links fix this by creating a link that points to a specific page inside of an app and that work on every platform. Moreover, we created tools that allow developers to quickly outfit their app to support mobile deep linking and create the links necessary to expose their app pages on the web. As this database of links expands, people will be able to connect with pages in apps in the same way they connect with websites today.
In addition to allowing app pages to be discovered, deep links improve the conversion, engagement, and retention of new users. According to our research, users who install an app from a deep link are twice as likely to remain in the app after one month, have improved click-to-install rate by 6x, and engage with the app twice as much. This is because deep links improve the user experience by taking users directly to the content that they’re looking for.
How close are we to deep links becoming the standard?
When we realized the potential deep links had if they were used by every app on the market, we sold our app business and decided to focus on Branch full-time. This was a little over a year ago and there are now over 5,000 apps using the Branch SDK with hundreds more joining every week. We’re continually amazed at the continued growth in adoption of the tool in the ecosystem. Over time, we hope Branch will become synonymous with mobile deep linking.
However, there’s still a lot of work to do. We need the help of mobile developers all around the world. If you know a mobile developer or build apps yourself, please spend the 5-10 minutes and start deep linking. You can get started by visiting our dev portal.
What will this mean for me in the future?
It’s our job to start building future products on top of the database of deep links being created. Our fundamental goal is to connect app users with relevant app content. If Branch is successful, we’ll be able to help hundreds of thousands of businesses succeed in the mobile ecosystem.
And we’re just getting started.