Focusing on Focus: Why We Sold AppMakr
Back in January of 2010, my co-founders Sean, Isaac and I created one of the first mobile app creation platforms, AppMakr.
At the time, we had a thriving mobile app consulting business called PointAbout, and we were building high-end (and expensive) apps for large brands. Our team made the iPhone app for The Washington Post and Cars.com. We built the Newsweek iPad app and an iPad app for Disney, along with apps for clients like General Motors, US Army, the Entertainment Software Rating Board and others.
Making custom apps was really expensive -- especially in those early days. We had a dream of democratizing app creation so it was accessible to anyone. From that idea, AppMakr was born.
The day before we launched AppMakr, our team took bets on how many apps would be made in AppMakr's first month. Some people guessed 10, others 100. We had no idea what were about to unleash: In AppMakr's first 3 months, users made many thousands of apps. We had to scramble to support the growth. We even got angry calls from Apple's app review team who were overwhelmed by the number of apps being submitted; that's how our App Quality Index came to be, as a way to turn their frown upside down.
AppMakr was featured in The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, USA Today, Business Insider, CBS, Entrepreneur (twice), The Washington Post, Washington Biz Journal, TechCrunch, LifeHacker, CNET and many others. Here's a video of Sean featured on Bloomberg back in 2011:
AppMakr was used by Newsweek, PBS, MacLife, The San Diego Chargers & others to make their apps. Rumor was, even The White House used AppMakr to make its app.
So what happened? Why sell AppMakr?
The singular answer is easy: Focus.
When we sold AppMakr's parent company, Socialize, to ShareThis in March of 2013, we knew that our team would be focused on driving social & sharing in mobile. The Socialize platform was seeing very strong growth, with over 100 million devices and 2 billion views -- much faster growth than AppMakr. We knew our team wasn't going to be able to keep putting the necessary resources into AppMakr to keep evolving it.
Making decisions to cut in one area to foster growth in another area is hard at first, but I've come to believe it's a skill that can be practiced and improved. Sean and Isaac are especially good at doing this. For example, at product meetings Sean would put on the agenda that we'd have to pick something to cut moving forward (in contrast to many company product meetings where the discussions is focused around what new features to add). He and Isaac intuitively understood that to go deeper in one area, we had to cut focus in other areas. It sounds so simple, but companies rarely have the discipline to narrow focus.
The great news is that we found a company, Infinite Monkeys, that is incredibly passionate about democratizing app creation-- just as we were -- to buy AppMakr. Growing and improving AppMakr is their singular focus, and having them shepherd AppMakr through its next stage of growth has already paid off. Earlier this week TheNextWeb wrote about the sale, and Singapore's Business Times ran this front page article about the acquisition:
So while we'll miss AppMakr, we're thankful that it's in good hands with Jay and his team at Infinite Monkeys, and we can't wait to see what they do with it. A huge thank you to the team who built AppMakr into what it is today, including Sue, Nick, Hayley, Sergey, Jason P, Jason G, Elizabeth, Jeremia, Christine, Jerry, Champ, Fawad, Jeff, Jeremy, Dan, William and everyone else who was involved in its growth, and thanks especially to the hundreds of thousands of customers that have trusted AppMakr for their apps. We can't wait to see what the new owners -- with their intense focus on app creation -- enable you to do.