Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store are full of once-hot-but-still-useful apps with substantial user bases, but whose founders may have moved on leaving a product that could use a little sprucing up.
Enter Maple Media, a startup that just raised $30 million from private equity firm Shamrock Capital and aims to scoop up a bunch of apps that aren’t getting enough love, manage them — and most importantly — boost their revenue.
“Our goal is really to acquire assets that already have a very strong sizable user base,” Maple Media CEO Michael Ritter, a founding employee of mobile gaming company Jam City (formerly SGN), told TheWrap. “We look to improve the message of the apps, focusing on retention and monetization.”
The second part of the plan, Ritter said, is to acquire enough apps to form substantial verticals in areas like gaming, entertainment and productivity, which would give Maple scale enticing to advertisers (who often have a hard time reaching the mobile app demographic on linear television).
Ritter and Maple Chief Operating Officer Clark Landry, a veteran tech investor who’s sold companies to the likes of Vivendi and taken others public, said managing and optimizing a mature app is a much different animal from creating one.
“It’s a really different skill set for a studio to develop an initial product or app and then once its live on the market place to manage it and monetize it,” he said. “Users expect a lot more from their apps, and these studios aren’t necessarily cut out to handle it from a skills standpoint or knowhow standpoint.”
But with Maple’s official launch Wednesday, Ritter said, game manufacturers can outsource that part and cash out in the meantime.
“It’s a great way for studios to monetize and liquidate their assets,” he said.
Alan Resnikoff, a partner at Shamrock, said he’s been scouring the gaming and app sectors for suitable investments, but being a PE firm and not a swing-for-the-fences venture capital shop meant finding something with the appropriate risk profile was hard. However, he became a believer in Maple’s concept, and more importantly, its management team.
“We think it’s a pretty creative approach,” he said. “Also, they’re sort of uniquely qualified to go after it.”
Showing more relevant ads that users engage with is one way to increase revenue, Ritter said, but the company employs plenty of non-advertising methods, such as introducing various price points to appeal to a broader mix of users around the world. Landry said stuffing apps full of ads is not going to be Maple’s approach.
And while Landry said conversations with app developers don’t always lead to a deal with Maple Media, he’s confident the company has found an opportunity in identifying some legit pain points.
“There are very few that we speak to that don’t have issues that we could potentially help them out with,” Landry said.