Today, we are pleased to present Applause (formerly uTest) as our “WIP of the Week.” Launched in 2008, the company was one of the first — if not the first — so-called “crowd testing” platform providers. Crowdtesting allows businesses to have their software (under development) tested by a large crowd of qualified, geographically dispersed testers. The crowd testing approach is becoming more and more important — and actually necessary — as software is increasingly deployed across the web and mobile networks, across hundreds of computing platforms and devices, and across many possible linguistic and cultural user populations, giving rise to new testing paradigms like “testing-in-the-wild.”
Originally founded as uTest, the company was then highly focused on building a worldwide community of crowdtesters as well as, naturally, engaging businesses interested in purchasing crowdtesting services. In 2014, the company rebranded itself as Applause to promote service offerings and engage business clients, while uTest continued as a separate business unit focusing on developing and sustaining a tester community. To an extent, one can look at Applause and uTest as two sides of the same work intermediation platform. Applause crowdtesters are sourced through uTest; and uTest, with more than 175,000 testers, is the way that Applause engages, vets and develops its affiliated community of testers.
The spend on software testing at Applause today is little more than a drop in the ocean of a total software testing market that that, according to one source, could exceed $70 billion globally by 2018, up from $40 billion in 2013. However, the company and its efficient crowdtesting approach are clearly aligned to meet a fast-growing demand for new kinds of testing that cannot be addressed through traditional approaches of in-house or outsourced teams. So the potential spend through crowdtesting platforms could become enormous in a matter of years. Applause is clearly the leader by size, longevity and private investment in this still emerging work intermediation platform segment and should be an instructive case for IT category managers and buyers to consider.
- Founded: 2007 (launched 2008)
- HQ location: Boston
- Co-founder and CEO: Doron Reuveni
- Corporate Status: Privately held
- Investment to date: $80.8 million in six rounds from eight investors (Goldman Sachs led 2014 $43 million Series E round, giving company an estimated value of $500 million, according to Forbes)
- Investors from contingent workforce industry: None known
- Annual spend (revenue) on platform: $24 million in 2013 and $38 million in 2014, reported by management to Forbes and Bostinno. In December 2015, uTest reported that it is paying out over $22 million to testers annually.
- Annual growth rate: 58% computed 2014 over 2013 (see above)
- Other platform dimensions: The company has publicly reported more than 175,000 registered testers in more than 220 countries, more than 3,000 small to medium-sized business and enterprises customers, more than 70,000 software builds tested
Applause, as noted above, is the brand and client engagement/services side of the work intermediation platform. Clients can estimate pricing for services and enter into service agreements for different types of testing.
The company has served thousands of clients, including some big names like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, HBO, Time and USA Today.
The Applause platform is geared to certain kinds of testing for which traditional testing approaches are inadequate — web, mobile, wearables, smart cars, internet of things. The platform delivers full-testing lifecycle services, including functional, usability, localization, load and security. As noted above, testing-in-the wild is also offered to provide testing across different geographies, networks, and languages. Over a million in-the-wild issues have been reported to date.
The Applause platform also provides a number of unique capabilities and services, including a testing projects visibility dashboard and crawling app stores and distilling user review feedback.
Applause cites a number of advantages over traditional outsourced testing, beyond providing testing approaches traditional outsourcers cannot. These include cost, speed of set-up and ability to scale rapidly.
As noted above, uTest is the brand and tester engagement and community support side of the work intermediation platform. Testers can register themselves into the uTest tester community where they will be qualified, become eligible for gigs and have access to a range of support services, including extensive education and skill development options.
uTest has reported that it is bringing on about 5,000 testers a month. However, not all are qualified to be engaged in all or any of Applause clients’ projects. Accordingly, the purpose of uTest is to aggregate testers across the world, vet and develop them to higher levels of capabilities and performance.
Spend Matters Take
Applause is an innovative, managed-crowd, platform-based software testing provider that should be noted and understood by IT procurement category managers and buyers for several reasons:
- It is a new and increasingly important type of software testing services supplier that may not be on the radar.
- It provides testing services for the new and fast growing segment of testing for software that is increasingly deployed across the web and mobile networks, across hundreds of computing platforms and devices and across many possible linguistic and cultural user populations.
- It delivers capabilities and potential benefits relative to traditional testing services outsourcers, including cost savings, speed of setup, ability to scale up and down rapidly and comprehensive in-depth services visibility.
- It is a harbinger of more digital “as-a-service” suppliers that will increasingly become a large part of procurements vendor portfolio/supplier base.
While today, Applause is a part of a growing segment of crowd-testing providers that is small in comparison to overall software testing spend, there is good reason to project that this segment and the demand for the testing services it provider will expand rapidly.
If you want to learn more about the entire crowd testing platform space, check out the Spend Matters PRO research brief, IT Services Buyers and Category Managers, Behold! Crowdtesting and Testing-as-a-Service are at Hand.