As we approach two million users of the OneSignal platform, I wanted to share a little bit about our company's origin and mission.
I would have never imagined we’d pivot away from a successful business, but that’s why OneSignal exists today. In 2015, our founding team ran a fast-growing mobile game studio backed by Y-Combinator. My co-founder and I had previously started successful companies, and we teamed up to apply our combined experience to build an industry-leading mobile gaming business to entertain hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
As a game studio, we differentiated ourselves in several key ways: Our games were easy to pick up, beautifully designed, translated for over a dozen languages, and grew virally as players shared them with each other. Each game had exceptional reviews and was repeatedly featured by the Apple and Google App Stores.
As successful as we were, there remained a persistent limitation to our growth rate: The best mobile applications require a deep investment into user engagement and retention both in the app and outside of it. The majority of app engagement is driven by messages, such as emails or push notifications, that draw users back into the app experience. We watched as only some of our largest competitors invested the time and effort required to implement messaging infrastructure to send reliable, timely, and personalized messaging campaigns to increase engagement and cross-promote their apps. Meanwhile, we struggled to get the basics in place.
As important as messaging is to mobile app success, no vendor or open-source solution could meet our needs. Commercial solutions in the space felt like they were built with decade-old technology, requiring complex implementation and costly maintenance. We weren’t the only ones experiencing this problem; In our efforts to learn from our peers, we discovered that marketers and growth teams across the mobile industry were struggling to implement rudimentary messaging campaigns.
Y-Combinator’s motto is to “build something people want.” We soon recognized that millions of businesses like our own needed a modern customer engagement platform to improve their customer experience and retention and to increase their revenue. We chose to pivot our business to become OneSignal, following in the footsteps of many of the greatest product-led businesses that originated as game studios, including Slack, Discord, and Valve.
Our Founding Principles
As we started building OneSignal, we looked at all of the software products we liked most. From there, we decided on four key principles to define what we wanted to create:
- A product every app can use - Anyone should be able to use OneSignal, whether they are a small startup or a big enterprise. We want to democratize access to our essential technology and have every mobile app in the world using OneSignal.
- Great user experience is essential - Long-term success comes from building software that is delightful to use every day.
- Impeccable infrastructure - Messaging is an essential part of every mobile experience. Our customers depend on us, so we must work flawlessly for each of them, day or night, large or small.
- Great support for everyone - Excellent documentation backed up by human support. Whether a customer is big or small, free or paid, we ensure their success. Every business should know that they can count on us.
We took these principles seriously, even though we knew they would be difficult to achieve. We recognized that the effort required would ultimately lead to us building a better and more valuable business.
Reflecting on Our Growth
Today, OneSignal has grown to be the dominant customer engagement platform worldwide. Each month, thousands of businesses adopt OneSignal. The OneSignal SDK is installed in 20% of all mobile applications released in 2023, and our market share growth is accelerating.
Furthermore, our principles and our resulting product have positioned us as the #1 highest-rated product in our category, with a score of 96/100 on G2, the leading source of B2B customer reviews.
The majority of mobile applications still under-invest in their customer engagement strategies. Our team has worked tirelessly to build a product that solves a range of problems that still plague millions of businesses, including:
- Limited or ineffective segmentation - Many companies struggle to utilize the information they have about their customers to personalize their messages. This could be because their messaging platform has limited audience segmentation capabilities or because the platform lacks the necessary data integrations for real-time personalization.
- Lack of attention to the customer journey - A customer’s experience with a mobile application occurs across multiple channels. These include the in-app experience, mobile push notifications, email, transactional messaging, and platform-specific features like iOS Live Activities. Before OneSignal, marketers struggled to assemble customer journeys that met customer expectations for consistency and relevance.
- Lack of support for key channels - Today’s applications must engage with users across multiple messaging channels. Before OneSignal, many businesses only used one — typically just push notifications or email — rather than being able to easily use all key messaging channels in a single platform.
- Not integrating data between systems - Not personalizing messages based on data about the customer from a CRM, CDP, Data Warehouse, or analytics tool.
- Unreliable infrastructure - Utilizing poorly integrated or poorly built solutions that slow down their team or prevent the easy rollout of new messaging campaigns.
Every day, OneSignal helps hundreds of thousands of businesses solve these problems with a platform that is powerful, easy to adopt, delightful to use, and supported by a world-class team.
Planning for the Future
As much progress as we’ve made, we see ourselves at just the beginning of achieving our mission and helping every business intelligently communicate with its users. Over the coming months, we’re focused on a range of product areas, including:
- Further extending our best-in-class integrations with complementary products, including data warehouses, analytics platforms, customer data platforms, and CRMs.
- Supporting a growing number of advanced use cases for enterprises with needs related to campaign management, advanced user-level personalization, and experimentation.
- Providing deeper insights on message performance so customers can fine-tune their strategies and avoid over-messaging their users.
- Ensuring our onboarding and each feature is easy, elegant, and intuitive.
- Staying ahead of the evolving technology landscape, such as Apple and Google’s frequent improvements to the mobile messaging experience on their devices, and as marketers start to adopt generative AI for copy and image creation.
- Providing exceptional documentation, examples, best practice guidance, and human support every step of the way.
There is no such thing as an offline business anymore, and our approach uniquely positions us to help every online business deliver a better messaging experience to its customers. We’ve come a long way from our game studio roots, but we remain focused on building experiences that impact hundreds of millions of people every day.
Thank you to everyone who has joined us on this journey so far.