June 16, 2020
Oren Kaniel
Founder & CEO | AppsFlyer

 Top brands such as Coca Cola, HBO, Walmart, McDonald’s Ebay, and many more trust AppsFlyer to help them “see in the dark” and make educated marketing decisions. How do you attract & maintain so many top tier brands?
When my co-founder and I launched AppsFlyer, we decided to represent the buyers, namely the marketers and advertisers in the ecosystem. We set out to settle the inherent conflict of interest between buyers and sellers and devised the attribution solution. And through the company’s lifecycle, we remained true to our long-term mission to represent the buyers, passing up on revenues opportunities along the way.  This commitment and our independent, unbiased position in the market, is what developed the trust in AppsFlyer within the ecosystem. Of course, their trust in the data is paramount.  Just in the last year, we measured $28 Billion of marketing dollars spent. We take great pride in this value we provide. We also want to ensure that our customers enjoy the best kind of experience and we do this by maintaining an open platform that allows them to innovate..

How do you manage to instill your personal “all-in” approach among new employees dispersed geographically in a company whose headcount has been growing 60% each year?
All-in is a core part of our corporate culture. It means being passionate about what you do. In order to bring 100% of our employees’ drive, brainpower, and innovation to the table, they are encouraged to ask themselves two questions; 1)Is what you are doing beneficial to the customer and 2)Does it make you proud? This is a Mindshift to thinking like a founder. And when this is applied, the sky is the limit and employees reach heights never imagined before. We are a customer-obsessed company but we are first an employee obsessed company and our employees worldwide know that this mindset will open the new opportunities for them.

 How did your people-obsessed attitude manifest during the Covid-19 crisis?
During the pandemic, it is natural that people developed stress and concerns. It was our primary concern to focus first on employees. Only once taken care of, could we expect them to service our customers. We also wanted to sustain their sense of pride in their workplace throughout this period. We enabled remote work before these were the orders, provided necessities for a home office, we insisted on shared activities, and on community involvement in ways that did not only include financial donations but active involvement of the employees that made them proud to be part of the effort.

Additionally, we escalated our open office hours for casual meetings with the CEO. As a result, last month I probably met with more people than in the last two years!  The “Corona Force” forced us to try new things and do many things quicker and better.

What do you miss most in an early-stage company?
In general, I am not nostalgic about the old days and enjoy the present, but I do spend time thinking about what I can learn from the past. I do miss the times that I interviewed all newcomers, but try and fill the blanks in developing new relationships. This is important for me, not because I am concerned about “wrong” hires but rather because I know I can learn from every new person I meet, especially from diversified backgrounds, life stories, and geographies. I also miss having no money. Being hungry ignites innovation and creativity. When you have money, you think about how to spend it, not how to make it. We were bootstrapped for a long time and we accomplished a lot in that time. Today, we often challenge employees to think about what they would do with no budget. The sky is the limit.

 Toughest choice you had to make as a CEO?
I don’t believe in tough choices. I make choices like an engineer, weighing in pros, cons, benefits, challenges, and risks.  I look at the fundamentals, are we delivering values or not? everything else will follow. having emotions involved can lead to making the wrong decisions. If you think about long term decisions, you need to make sacrifices in the short term. What makes decisions difficult in my mind, is handling the short term implications and inconvenience. Letting people go is a good example. It is a painful step but it’s for the better for the individual and the company. Personally, I was laid off too. I remember my manager told me that I should go and do something else for my benefit. And here I am!

 Gut instinct and cold data, which do you follow?
I believe in gut feelings fed by data. For instance, when you sleep on things, you think, and you wake up with a decision, but this decision was driven by facts your brain was processing in your sleep. 

 Where do you invest most of your time?
This is something I often ask myself as well. The most important investment for me  is culture. I am building a company. This company can produce A or B but what will enable us to be a great company is what pulls everyone together: a shared mission and shared culture. This is a constant, everything else can change. Companies with a strong culture will adapt to changing markets and are the ones that will survive long term.

 What characterizes your executive team?
Some people say that the company culture is based on the founders’ culture. The executive team is similar in that we are All- in, we are passionate about people and about what we do. We work great as a team and when we demonstrate great teamwork in management, it echoes to the entire company. We also support each other in our blind spots.  Personally, I think I have almost 1000 managers. The AppsFlyer org chart is flipped over. I expect the employees to provide feedback on what we do well and what we can do better.

 Best tip you got?
My first investor told  me to focus on building a great product and business.  Your business should  fund the company. When customers fuel the business, you grow with no dilution. What a concept! Of course, at some point in order to scale you need a healthy balance sheet to capture opportunities and you need partners to do so ,but I always remember the tip – rely on a great business to grow.

 Tip you wish you had gotten…
I wish someone would have given me my All-in blog twenty years ago. Early in my career, I was always obsessed with what I was doing, and I was always practicing to be a founder. Reading it would have helped me a lot to see things more clearly.  

 How do you see your personal growth alongside the company’s?
It’s been an amazing journey . I’m not afraid to change and learn new things. For me, development never stops because I want to evolve and improve. Obviously,  I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, so hopefully I am an improved version. I’m very focused on what I need to do in order to get things done.

One thing people don’t know about you
Not a lot of people know that in my military service I was a cook. Unfortunately, my family does not get to enjoy this skill set.

About AppsFlyer
AppsFlyer, the global attribution leader, empowers marketers to grow their business and innovate with a suite of comprehensive measurement and analytics solutions. Built around privacy by design, AppsFlyer takes a customer-centric approach to help 12,000+ brands and 6,000+ technology partners make better business decisions every day. To learn more, visit www.appsflyer.com.

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