Why Investors Are Betting On Technology That Watches Your Screen

In the age of mobile, the speed at which things go from being such a cutting-edge idea that it borders on sounding magical when explained to the average person to being a sort of de facto part of the background noise is incredibly accelerated – well, for the handful of great ideas that actually make it that far.

Take data analytics.

A little under a decade-and-a-half ago, “Moneyball” became a bestseller and suddenly the layman became aware of something that until then had been fairly invisible: that there were computer scientists out there who could write algorithms to predict the future.

And much of the intervening 12-and-a-half years saw a great building of enthusiasm for a handful of data geeks who apparently had figured out a way to combine cloud-assisted supercomputing and massive sets of digital data that were proliferating like Kudzu across the landscape into readable, actionable tea leaves. By 2012, analytics wunderkind and FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver’s talent for prognostication was lauded only slightly less frequently than Nostradamus’.

But as using data analytics as a tool of collection, collation and prediction became more popular, it also became more common and thus less magical. These days, saying one has created an API or or an SDK to help developers leverage mobile data collection to improve retention rates by monitoring user behavior in mobile apps isn’t something that is going to elicit an “oooh” or a “take a number and get in line,” because it’s not a terribly surprising sales pitch.

Which might lead one to wonder why Repro — a Tokyo-based mobile analytics firm that offers an an SDK to support the development of apps for improved retention rate and an API that makes it easy to push conditional mobile push notifications — would be using the $2.6 million in funding it just picked up to push into the U.S.?

Which is not to say the firm isn’t successful. Repro’s SDK, according to reports, has been adopted into 1,400 mobile apps in 18 countries. But much of what the firm does will sound familiar to a U.S. corporate audience, whereas the firm itself will be less familiar than a lot of options already in the market.

But Repro has a very interesting secret sauce with what it calls its “growth hacking platform.”

Once an app has the Repro SDK installed, the app can really watch the user.

Like for real.

Among things the app watches — such as how the user interfaces with the site, how long they stay around, how often they convert — is the user’s facial expression itself. Repro keeps track of when the customer,, reader or general user is frowning at what they see.

Holy creep factor, Batman!

Use your phone naked? Might want to rethink that plan, “Since its official release in April of 2015, the platform has been adopted by major eCommerce sites, games, news media and other various apps from the IT industry, according to Repro CEO Yusuke Hirata,” reports Venture Beat.

According to the VB article, the app then combines the quantitative data based on use statistics with the qualitative data like “reproducing user actions in the app, leveraging recorded play-by-play video.”

That video theoretically allows developers a greater ability to determine what problems consumers are running into with the app — and what marketing features will actually be helpful to integrate.

And before you note you are sure you’ve never given an app permission to watch you this way, ask yourself how many apps you’ve given permission to use your camera in the time you’ve owned a smartphone — and compare that to how many terms-of-service agreements you’ve actually read.

That’s probably ZERO.

And for Repro, they are hoping to see their services and SDK continue to expand — and hopefully be of service across more verticals, including real estate, fashion, HR, marriage counseling and other non-IT sectors.

Marriage counseling — now that sounds like a great use case for video via mobile!

Repro also hopes that going forward it can provide more than just an SDK, and instead is looking to help businesses build entire mobile growth solutions around their innovative approach.

“When developers release their app, many of them definitely want to gain sales, customer satisfaction, or touch points with their users. Based on these strategies, we will offer growth hacking expertise for mobile app development such as setting KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] or magic numbers, which we have learned through serving 1,400 mobile apps.”

Repro isn’t a well-known product in the U.S., but that might soon change as it pushes into the U.S. market. It is also beyond a global expansion, also looking to expand from apps analytics only — and is hoping to launch a mobile Web tool as well.

Better be sure that consumers know the dress code.

Investments for Week Ending in 3-4-2016

The dawning of March brought with it a little more lustrous activity in the Investment Tracker for the week that ended March 4. The previous few weeks had seen $100 million thresholds struggling to be breached. But in the latest week, the tally soared – relatively speaking – to more than $382 million. The point hardly needs driving home by now, but FinTech continued to dominate.

Looks can be deceiving, however. Of that $382 million tally, the overwhelming bulk of that came from a single deal, where Emerging Markets Payments agreed to be bought by Network International, based in Dubai, for $340 million. That is a deal that would create the biggest payments processing firm in the Middle East, with roughly 65 percent of post deal revenues coming from the United Arab Emirates.
Far below that level – a blip really – we see that there was $12 million raised by B2B tech company Oro, which came via a series B round. The investment was led by Highland Europe, which in turn will be used to develop Oro’s software geared toward B2B eCommerce. Separately, just below that transaction, OurCrowd grabbed $10 million in an investment from United Overseas Bank Limited, with the aim of giving OurCrowd access to new investment opportunities throughout Asia.

In the grand scheme of the payments industry, investment continues to be tied chiefly to FinTech, which is where, in large part, the innovation is – and perhaps growth, which is of course a chief lure for private capital. The thaw seems hardly a thaw, given the outsized nature of the single EMP deal. As buds reappear on the trees, we’ll see if green shoots appear in our IT data.


New PYMNTS Report: The CFO’s Guide To Digitizing B2B Payments – August 2020 

The CFO’s Guide To Digitizing B2B Payments, a PYMNTS and Comdata collaboration, examines how companies are updating their AP approaches to protect their cash flows, support their vendors and enable their financial departments to operate remotely.