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1Mby1M Deal Radar 2011: Tapjoy, San Francisco, California

Posted on Monday, Jun 27th 2011

Tapjoy is an engagement and monetization service for mobile applications. The company’s turnkey in-app advertising platform helps developers acquire new users, drive engagement within their applications, and create incremental income by providing ad-in-game currency free. The company’s network includes more than 9,000 apps and 200 million global consumers on iOS, Android, and emerging mobile platforms. Tapjoy has 1.5 million transactions a day across its network for app developers and advertisers.

San Francisco–based Tapjoy was founded to help solve two important problems within social/mobile games and applications: first, to provide users with a way to earn in-game currency without having to pay for it; and second, to help users discover great apps. The company got its start as Offerpal Media in 2007. Offerpal served application developers on the Facebook platform not long after Facebook opened up to third-party developers. With no other ad-funded payment platforms at that time, Offerpal pioneered and grew an entirely new category. Soon afterward, competitors such as SuperSonic Ads and SponsorPay came on the scene.

Beginning in 2010, Facebook started controlling the market for themselves, which forced most of the companies operating on its platform to pivot to either find other opportunities or new business models. It was in March of that year that Offerpal purchased the mobile alt-pay platform company, Tapjoy. In October, Offerpal adopted Tapjoy’s name and shifted focus to mobile platforms like iOS and Android. As Tapjoy, the team found themselves once more on the forefront of a burgeoning space: mobile. The company started out by building its own mobile games in order to gain a clear understanding of what it takes to build and grow a successful application. Tapjoy’s original monetization platform was designed for the company’s own games, but CEO Mihir Shah and his team soon realized that it could benefit the entire eco-system – consumers, application developers, advertisers, and platforms.

Shah, a Stanford University alumni with a bachelor’s degree in quantitative economics, joined Tapjoy as its chief revenue officer in December 2009. He was promoted to CEO in September 2010. He has more than 10 years’ experience as a top-level executive in the online advertising and gaming industries. He served as president and CEO of Liquid Software, an enterprise application integrator. From there, he went on to serve as the vice-president and general manager for direct selling at QuinStreet, a performance marketing firm. A self-proclaimed foodie, Shah founded his own venture, CookEatShare.com, a vertical social network that caters to home cooks and professional chefs. He continues to participate actively on the site.

The company’s management team comes from  a cross-section of the technology, finance, advertising, and mobile industries. It holds regular off-site gatherings, where either the management team or the entire company meet to brainstorm ways to keep innovating to help stay ahead of the competition.

To set itself apart from competitors such as Paymentwall, AdWhirl, and iVdopia, Tapjoy offers only relevant, transparent and high-quality advertisements. The company rejects 80% of the offers it receives because its users, well-known brands like Groupon, Intuit, and MTV, won’t like them.

The Gartner Group reported that total annual mobile application revenues will reach $30 billion by 2015, including all advertising revenues, paid downloads, subscriptions and other forms of monetization. Tapjoy expects to address a third of that market. The company’s target segments are mobile application developers and big brand advertisers who have a mobile presence.

Tapjoy has more than $100 million in revenues and reaches in excess of 200 million consumers and mobile platforms. The more than 9,000 applications the company distributes come from such developers as Glu, Zynga, and ngmoco, to name a few. Customers control how much they spend, and advertisers have the freedom to determine how much an installation or engagement is worth, depending on the action consumers are being asked to take and how much volume the advertisers want to drive.

Tapjoy has no exit plans at this time. Instead, Shah says, the company is “truly focused on creating value and building long-term sustainability and growth,” with a plan to “be in this business for the long haul and keep offering great solutions that help consumers, advertisers, developers and platforms.”

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This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Deal Radar 2011

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