OneSignal, a platform that powers notifications for mobile apps and more, today announced that it has raised $50 million in a Series C round led by BAM Elevate with participation from SignalFire and other existing investors. The infusion brings OneSignal’s total to $80 million and will be used to invest in machine learning, geographic expansion and grow OneSignal’s team (from 140 employees to 170) by the end of the year.
Starting out as a mobile game studio, OneSignal turned to customer engagement when co-founder and CEO George Deglin saw an opportunity to address an ongoing challenge in app development: creating an efficient push notification pipeline.
“There is a huge shift happening in the mobile app industry. Technological and regulatory changes have made advertising less effective and more expensive, making it harder to target ads on platforms like Facebook. As a result, companies are shifting their focus from paid advertising channels like Facebook ads to ‘native channels’ like push notifications, email and in-app messaging,” Deglin told TechCrunch via email. “Despite this recent shift, most of the technology available to help brands engage with consumers on owned channels was not built for a mobile-centric world.”
In contrast, Deglin argued, OneSignal is mobile-centric, with tools designed to enable businesses to automate the delivery of messages across channels including SMS, email, and app notifications and in-app messaging. OneSignal customers can centralize consumer communications within the platform, customizing their campaigns based on metrics to improve open rates.
There is some truth to the idea that personalized, personalized messaging can move a product. According to McKinsey for 2021 research76% of consumers said that receiving personalized communications was a key factor in getting them to consider a brand, while 78% said that such content made them more likely to buy again.
“OneSignal was founded by Long Vo and I in 2015. Long and I ran a Y Combinator-backed game studio, but turned it into a push notification platform [and then a customer engagement solution] after discovering how difficult it is for developers to communicate with their users,” Deglin said. “Prior to their meeting, I was the co-founder and CTO of Uversity, a student engagement platform. Long Vo was the co-founder and art director of Gaia Online, an anime-themed social network. We were introduced through a mutual friend who thought we would be great co-founders for each other.”
OneSignal competes with Soldering, CleverTap and Xtremepush, among others. Braze is a publicly traded company that raised about $175 million when it was private, while CleverTap most recently raised $105 million in funding at a $775 million valuation. But Deglin says OneSignal differentiates itself by focusing on “intelligent delivery,” or analyzing the time and day users engage with an app and automatically scheduling “re-engagement” campaigns to be delivered based on historical trends .
“By providing these types of automatic customizations, OneSignal allows our customers to focus on building great apps and saves them the time and guesswork they would otherwise spend trying to determine the best time or frequency to send their messages,” he added Deglin. “Just as smartphones are getting better at making recommendations based on how people use them, OneSignal sees an opportunity to democratize the technology for all app developers to optimize their messaging campaigns to deliver more personalized experiences for its users.”
Indeed, OneSignal has grown quite a bit, with over 1.7 million developers and merchants on the platform and roughly 6,000 paying customers. One accelerator is OneSignal’s free plan, Deglin says, which limits certain features but doesn’t limit the number of users or messages customers can send push notifications to.
“OneSignal grew rapidly during the pandemic as more businesses recognized the importance of engaging their customers and increasing retention with targeted notifications and emails… The company also benefited from changes to the advertising ecosystem they made in -expensive to acquire users and therefore it is even more important to maximize user retention,” Deglin said. “OneSignal was well prepared for economic difficulties and continued to grow rapidly without overspending. This round allows OneSignal to reach profitability while maintaining rapid growth… Efficiency is a focus for the business and gross margins are over 90%.”
BAM Elevate’s Jamie McGurk, who is joining OnSignal’s board of directors, told TechCrunch in a statement: “Today’s consumers expect hyper-personalized, relevant and timely communication at every touchpoint. Creating a multi-channel communication strategy is a must, and OneSignal allows you to do this quickly and easily. I am honored to join the OneSignal team and look forward to working with George and the rest of the leadership team to continue the great progress the company has made.”