Saying NO is focusing. Saying NEVER is a commitment

By Oren Kaniel
The importance of focusing and committing - AppsFlyer

I often get asked what is the most important thing I learned from starting and scaling AppsFlyer over the last 10 years. Looking back, it’s the importance of focusing and committing

Focusing is easier said than done. The journey of building a company is always full of distractions and “opportunities” that can be tempting and lucrative. But in the long term, they can be de-focusing or worse, introduce risks to your product, purpose, as well as your team’s sense of belonging and pride. 

Take AppsFlyer for example. Since AppsFlyer’s inception, we’ve received countless “opportunities” such as selling data, becoming a data broker or an ad-network, or creating our own consumer app leveraging the data we have access to. 

Below is one such recent example. 

How did we decide that these are distractions not worth our time or even consideration? How did we enable the right decision making process within the entire team?

We managed to stay focused since we had clear answers to the big questions: who we are, what we do, what we don’t do (and what we are never going to do), what do we stand for, what makes us proud, and ultimately, what is our purpose and commitment?

One of the reasons we started AppsFlyer was the conflict of interests in the ecosystem. We thought that a trusted measurement company must be independent and unbiased. Like a referee. 
This led us to make a long-term commitment to our customers, partners, and the entire ecosystem to stay independent and unbiased. We took the time to detail what it means to us and reiterated it, including in these 2015, 2018, and 2021 blog posts. For example, here is our commitment to never sell user data in a blog post from 2018:

Commitment to never sell user data

Yes, there was a cost to our commitment – potential short-term revenue loss. While other companies might choose to monetize consumer data in various ways, we limited our revenue to the sales of our cloud-based software.

Decisions making frameworks, values, and invariants. 

Furthermore, for the last few years, we at AppsFlyer have been using a customer centric decision-making framework:

  • Is this good for our customers, and their end-users?
  • Does this make me proud to be part of AppsFlyer?

In a rapidly changing digital environment, we decided years ago to focus on the things that are never going to change. We call them invariants and made them our 4 core pillars

  • Customer obsession (staying unbiased and independent) 
  • Security and privacy
  • Enabling innovation
  • Trusted data insights

These core pillars are always at the heart of every decision we make, as a company and as individual team members. It ensures we consistently maintain our customers, partners, and the ecosystem’s trust at every step of our journey. 

The value of a vision

Having a vision is  required to create focus and critical to making a real, long lasting commitment. For AppsFlyer it took several years of hard work and discipline of making good choices, making the right commitments, and defining our values and decision-making frameworks, until we understood our purpose and vision for enabling a better and safer digital experience

Everything we do enables our customers and partners to maximize their own customers’ value, experience, and privacy. We do that by providing technology and groundbreaking innovations that enable privacy-preserving ecosystem collaboration and measurement. This is what has enabled us to create innovative products like the Privacy Cloud and our Data Clean Room solution, Predictive analytics, incrementality measurement, Aggregated Advance Privacy,  CTV measurement, our engagement products, SKAdNetwork innovations and many others.

Our long-term mindset, our commitment to being independent and unbiased, our decision-making framework, and eventually our vision is what enabled us to stay focused and become a trusted technology provider and industry leader. It helps us navigate an extremely complex and competitive environment and an ecosystem that changes constantly. 

The unprecedented privacy changes have made this clearer than ever, as the largest platforms in the digital ecosystem have demonstrated their confidence in us by partnering with AppsFlyer to design and build the future of the digital ecosystem that enables privacy preserving measurement and collaboration.

Oren Kaniel

Oren Kaniel is co-founder and CEO of AppsFlyer. He loves everything mobile and is a creative thinker, listener, talker, and is trying to be a blogger. Oren holds a BA in Computer Science, Cum Laude, from the Technion, and an MBA from IDC, as part of an exchange with the Wharton Business School.

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