Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Apperian, Enabler of iPhones and iPads for the Enterprise, Lands $9.5 Million

The enterprise story about the Apple’s iPad gets ever more interesting every day. Earlier this year, a study by the consulting firm Deloitte estimated that companies will buy some 10 million tablets this year, and most of them will be iPads. Meanwhile, millions of iPhone owners are bringing their devices to work and won’t want to also carry the company-issued Blackberry just for work-related things.

That creates an interesting opportunity that the Boston-based startup Apperian has been working on. Companies often have their own custom-made applications that they need to distribute to hundreds or thousands of employees, but they’d rather not do so via the iTunes App Store, where Apple has control and the power to approve all applications. No, instead companies need their own internal App store.

That’s exactly what Apperian has built. It’s called EASE–for Enterprise App Service Environment–and it gives enterprises the ability to create apps that can be distributed and managed and updated throughout a company.

After two years of operation, Apperian will announce today that it has landed a $9.5 million series A led by North Bridge Partners and joined by Bessemer Venture Partners and the Kleiner Perkins iFund, the $200 million fund focused on investments in the iPhone-iPad universe. Apperian is, I’m told, its first enterprise investment. Before this round, the company was funded by about $1.9 million in seed funding from CommonAngels and LaunchCapital. Michael Skok, a partner at North Bridge, and Bob Goodman, a founder partner at Bessemer, will be joining Apperian’s board.

One of its founders and its current Chief Strategy Officer is Chuck Goldman, who spent eight years as the Director of Field Engineering and Professional Services for Apple. His job was helping companies integrate Apple gear–first Macs but then later the iPhone–into their corporate infrastructure. (A 2008 BusinessWeek cover story I worked on focused on Apple’s somewhat reluctant embracing of its newfound popularity within corporations, which has only accelerated since then.)

I talked with Apperian CEO David Patrick yesterday. Initially, the plan was to build apps for corporate customers. “About halfway through we realized there was a huge interest among our customers in building apps internally for specific internal use, especially on the iPad.” That led to EASE, which is essentially a cloud-based platform that allows companies to build, deploy and manage iPad and iPhone applications. Customers can create their own branded app store-like environments.

And there are many customers: Procter and Gamble, Cisco Systems, NetApp, and Estée Lauder among them. All of them, Patrick told me, have built their own internal app stores that authenticate employees and serve up apps that are used for company-specific work without any need to host them in Apple’s public-facing app store. “You can literally push out an application to 5,000 users in a matter of seconds,” Patrick said.

Cisco builds its own internal sales force automation apps, Patrick told me. Cosmetics giant Estée Lauder uses the iPad at its retail counters to help suggest Clinique skin care products to customers. (Apperian also built this app.)

It’s a big turn of events from when the company first started, Patrick said. “We started working on EASE about 15 months ago, and we showed it to companies who asked why they’d ever want it,” he said. “They were providing email and calendar access and that was the extent of their commitment to the iPhone and the iPad. By summer, after the iPad first launched, our phone was ringing off the hook.” CIOs at big companies quickly got iPad religion when all their senior executives and board members walked in the door with iPads. “They could read all the documents on the screen, and it wasn’t long before they wanted their corporate apps, their business intelligence and SAP reports on the iPad too.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald