Dear friends, partners and customers,
This years’ holiday season is a memorable one, a ‘never-has-it-been-like-this-before’ and a ‘never-will-it-be-like-this-again’ holiday season, as we all realize what a turbulent year 2020 was. The global pandemic‘s impact has probably changed the world more than any other event in the past 30 years*. It has had a tremendous impact on our lives, families and workplace – on all the small and large microcosms we live in. Meeting friends, daily commute to work, hugging grandparents, dining out, meeting business partners, traveling and holidays all were different in 2020.
While we all had to change our lives, the impact of those changes varied greatly for each one of us. Some of you may have suffered losses – personally or commercially, some of you may have seen skyrocketing growth in business and unexpected new opportunities. The mobile apps and the advertising industry at large has certainly seen continued and even accelerated growth. So did Kayzen and many of our partners and customers.
The ad tech industry seems to have regained the trust of public market investors. Some of the publicly listed ad tech companies such as Rubicon Project (now merged with Telaria trading under their new name “Magnite”) or The Trade Desk have seen their valuations grow by more than 5x. In the mobile app advertising market, the most notable event was probably Unity’s public listing. The stock has since comfortably outperformed expectations and is now trading at a market cap of more than 40bn USD. But not only public markets have regained momentum, also several private transactions signal confidence in our market‘s future. Liftoff got a whopping 400M USD investment (or was it a partial exit?) from Blackstone and Beeswax got acquired by FreeWheel (a division of Comcast). IronSource has already announced that it is gearing up for an IPO in 2021 and Applovin will likely do the same.
With all this going on, it can sometimes be overwhelming to keep track of how it affects our industry‘s overall equilibrium and powers. One thing is certain though: with more money flowing into the market, investors’ expectations will grow and with it many of these businesses will aim to capture a larger share of the value chain. We want you to rest assured that our vision at Kayzen remains unchanged and serves as a compass to guide us: We Democratize Programmatic Marketing. We will continue to endow advertisers with the highest level of control and transparency they can get from any ad platform out there. We will continue to operate on a fair, competitive and transparent SaaS pricing, so that they can reap the full benefits of in-housing their programmatic ad buying.
While I am very grateful for the tailwind in our market, I feel disconcerting when I think about all the pain others suffer due to the pandemic. Let us not forget that we are among the privileged in the current situation and hence have an obligation to support others to get through this. One of the initiatives the Kayzen team took in the early days of the pandemic was to leverage our collective skills and know-how by creating the #AppsFightCovid initiative. We managed to reach almost 40 million people across 50+ countries with WHO Covid-19 videos and initiated more than 2.5 million chatbot sessions with the WHO chatbot. This initiative would not have been possible without the support of many of our friends, partners and customers.
“Change for the Better” as a title for this post was inspired by the idea that things can only get better from here. This is not to say that we will see even more accelerated growth in our market in 2021 (though I hope we will), but to say that for the 99%+ of the world population which is not working in the mobile apps industry, the situation will hopefully improve. As of the date of writing this article, the first vaccines against Covid-19 have already been given out, giving a reason for hope.
But I also chose “Change for the Better” as a title for this article, since it is the literal translation of the Japanese Kai-Zen (改善) into English words. Kai-Zen served us as inspiration for our name (Kayzen) and we inherited many aspects of it as part of our company culture of continuous learning and improvement.
Hopefully, I will have the possibility to see some of you again in person in the new year.
With the best wishes for a better 2021,
Tim / Co-Founder & CEO @Kayzen
*I am assuming that the fall of the Berlin Wall and with it the end of the East-West divide was an event that had a similarly large impact on our world, though I am aware that this might be a Europe-US centric perspective on events.