Apperian Adds $9.5M from North Bridge, Bessemer, Kleiner Perkins, Looks to Dominate in Enterprise Mobile Apps

It’s a big day for the New England mobile community. Boston-based Apperian, the maker of a software platform for enterprise mobile apps, said it has raised a $9.5 million Series A round from North Bridge Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (iFund, focused on Apple iPad and iPhone software). The company’s seed-stage investors, CommonAngels and LaunchCapital, also participated in the round.

Apperian, which started in early 2009, previously raised $1.9 million in angel capital. About a year ago, the startup unveiled its plan to help big companies create, deploy, and manage iPhone and iPad apps (and soon Android), through a software platform called the Enterprise Application Services Environment (EASE). Then, last September, David Patrick, a veteran of The Learning Company, Ximian, and Xkoto, came on as CEO to raise a venture round and expand the business. Apperian founder Chuck Goldman, a former Apple executive, shifted over to chief strategy officer and remains as involved as ever.

My colleague Wade has previously delved into the technical features and issues around Apperian and EASE. But I’m just about the money. In particular, the fact that a sizeable new venture round led by Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley firms should go a long way towards bolstering Apperian—and Boston—as a leader in mobile apps, particularly for big businesses.

“There’s an opportunity for a new generation of software companies,” Patrick says. “We knew from the first meeting that these were the partners we wanted to have at the table. This gives us three centers of power.”

Outside venture firms seem to be paying a little more attention to Boston these days. In recent months, Balderton Capital and Google Ventures helped pour $15 million into SCVNGR, while Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, and led a $32 million round for HubSpot. Throw in Gemvara’s $15 million round announced last week, led by Balderton, and Boston software startups are practically rolling in outside dough.

Apperian will use its new cash to build out its sales and marketing teams, as well as its engineering and development teams. The company expects to double its headcount from 25 to about 50 people this year. It is also moving into a new 9,000-square-foot office on Summer Street in Boston this May, where it will occupy the entire first floor. The new venture round gives Apperian about 18 to 24 months of runway in the bank, Patrick says.

Meanwhile, the firm’s mobile app platform, EASE, has a number of prominent new customers, including Estee Lauder (which Apperian says is planning the world’s largest deployment of enterprise apps on the iPad, for its Clinique counters), Cisco Systems, NetApp, and Proctor & Gamble.

Goldman revealed that in the early days of Apperian, he wrote a letter to John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins about raising venture financing, but that “basically it went unanswered” because “we weren’t ready for it.” But what a difference having some big customers makes now. Between the company’s product strategy, market timing, and traction, Goldman says, “all those stars aligned.” And in terms of the competitive landscape, he asserts that “nobody has the track record of Apperian in building enterprise apps.”

Nevertheless, raising a venture round doesn’t prove anything yet about the long-term success of the company. Apperian’s biggest challenge now, Patrick says, is “scale, growth, and execution.” He adds, “There’s no time to rest. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, we can’t sleep a wink.”

He’s talking about the fact that big companies and chief information officers seem to have embraced tablet computing now—to the tune of 11 million tablets projected to be bought by enterprises and two-thirds of CIOs adopting the devices in 2011, by some estimates.

“We’ll have a lot of competition,” Patrick says.

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