Mobile App Firm Apperian Sold to Arxan as Security Demand Grows

Apperian, one of the early companies to build mobile applications for large enterprises, has been acquired by app-security firm Arxan.

The purchase price wasn’t disclosed, so it’s hard to tell how good an outcome this is for Apperian and its investors. The Boston-based firm had raised just shy of $40 million from investors, including FirstFloor Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, North Bridge Venture Partners, Intel Capital, and Converge Venture Partners.

Mark Lorion

Apperian will operate as a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Arxan and will keep its brand name and its Boston office, says Mark Lorion. He has been serving as Apperian’s chief marketing and products officer, but will now lead Apperian as its president and general manager.

Much of Apperian’s team is staying on post-acquisition, although there will be some consolidation of back-office jobs, Lorion says. Apperian’s CEO, Brian Day, “moved on as part of the acquisition,” Lorion says. Day joined Fuze as its CFO in December.

Lorion declined to say exactly how many employees Apperian currently has—it’s “several dozens”—but he says the headcount is lower than the 67 employees the company had when it raised a $12 million Series C round in September 2015. That’s partly because over the summer Apperian sold off a part of its business that was focused on government security products, Lorion says. (He says he can’t share more details about that deal.)

Apperian was founded in 2009 by Chuck Goldman, who previously spent eight years as Apple’s senior director of enterprise professional services. He launched Apperian two years after the debut of the iPhone. Initially, the startup was an iPhone-focused software consultancy that primarily built consumer-facing mobile apps for big brands such as Timberland.

But a few years in, Apperian shifted gears and became a mobile-app platform for enterprises to develop, deploy, and manage their own internal apps—a sort of enterprise app store that could provide the level of security that big companies and government agencies require. Apperian has been taking advantage of the shift toward employees and contract workers using their own smartphones and tablets for work purposes—the so-called “Bring Your Own Device” movement.

Lorion declined to share Apperian’s sales figures or whether the company is profitable. But Apperian says it has enabled more than 2.5 million enterprise app installations to date, and its number of end users has increased by more than 180 percent in the past two years. Its customers include Ace Hardware, Amtrak, Land O’Lakes, Nvidia, and Nationwide, according to a press release.

Before the sale to Arxan, Apperian had been looking for ways to bolster the security capabilities of its products and services, Lorion says.

“One of the things we’ve realized over time is in the enterprise mobility space, more and more of the buying decision has been focused on security,” Lorion says.

That led to conversations with Arxan, which Lorion says specializes in helping businesses secure their consumer-facing mobile and connected device apps, such as mobile payment apps and connected car software.

“They had been getting questions about what they can do on the enterprise side,” Lorion says. “What began with interesting partnership discussions ended up becoming a walk to the altar.”

Joining forces with Arxan should help Apperian accelerate its sales, Lorion says, thanks to Arxan’s deeper pockets and larger sales staff. Arxan has more than 100 employees, Lorion says, and is owned by the private equity firm TA Associates, which acquired a majority stake in 2013.

“It’s great to see [Apperian] land in a good place,” Lorion says. “The future is bright.”

Chuck Goldman

Xconomy also reached out to Goldman, Apperian’s founder and former CEO, to get his thoughts on the deal.

“I don’t know the deal specifics so I cannot comment on the financial aspects of the acquisition, but I am happy that we were able to create over 75 jobs in Boston and attract some of the very top local talent and from my ecosystem at Apple,” Goldman wrote in an e-mail. “It is also great to see market demand for Apperian’s platform and know that the team will be able to continue working together. … I poured my heart into the company, and I am proud of my work and the people who I worked with.”

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