Sramana Mitra: Series A can be five million dollars, a million dollars, half a million dollars, and so on.
Miko Matsumura: We have done stuff in the half million dollar range. That tends to be very suitable for one- to two-person jobs. We certainly have the capacity to go bigger, but we are just looking for what fits the bill.
SM: From where you sit and from where your company sits, what is interesting in terms of capital efficient apps? What kinds of apps are monetizing? Since you are looking at it from the point of view of a venture capital investment, you don’t look at free apps.
MM: That is true. Although given the stuff we see happening in mobile app monetization and advertising, there are free apps that have a valid opportunity. But I think one of the things that is happening in the market is that you are seeing a segmentation between two broad application developers. There is the independent application developer, which is typically a very small number of companies. They just happen to get something going in the app store. That is a very interesting group to us.
SM: There are hundreds of thousands of people doing that.
MM: Yes. We don’t have a strict bias. Obviously we look for populations and user segments that monetize well. The couple’s app is a concept that is very interesting to us. What is wonderful about it is apps, which have a distinct behavior pattern in segmentation tend to score pretty well, regardless of who that segment is. For example, we have an app that is favored by women between 13 and 25. That is a distinct segment, and there are people who want to reach it. There are horizontal apps. But even something as nerdy as file management actually has a skew to it, and it tends to skew toward nerdier people, and they are people who want to reach nerdier people. So to us it is more about having a specific skew and having some knowledge about who those people are. That makes it more interesting.
SM: What kind of numbers does it take, from an advertising point of view, for an app to monetize? There is a lot of ad inventory out there that is not monetizing in terms of mobile. What metrics do you use to assess [monetization]?
MM: One of the things that is important to understand is the behavioral perspective. What are the types of things that people are focused on within the apps world? There are certain apps like to-do list management or task management. They already have an implicit bias toward professionalism – things like document signing apps and things like that. There are even some kinds of luxury apps related to golf or fashion, where there is automatically an implicit conversion.
We see those as important. The reason we are interested in this segment as a whole is that in the long term there will be back-end providers that focus on enterprise apps. There you have a different set of requirements. Our intention is to continue to move forward and try to serve independent developers in the consumer space. From that side, people will be interested in understanding the patterns of monetization.