By Sarah McBride
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - In its first major initiative in the year since the sudden death of its chief executive, Dave Goldberg, SurveyMonkey is expanding its survey business to tap into booming demand for mobile apps.
The company is launching SurveyMonkey Intelligence for tracking of the mobile-device software known as apps, it said Wednesday. That way, businesses can see data - their own or the competition's - including which apps are gaining traction, peak usage times for various apps, and customer characteristics.
The metrics could make it easier to find and retain customers, or deploy more targeted ads on the apps themselves. For investors, usage information could inform decisions on whether to fund an up-and-coming app.
Goldberg died on May 1 last year after a treadmill accident in Mexico. His death led to an unsettled period for Palo Alto, California-based SurveyMonkey, including layoffs of about 100 employees and two searches for new leadership.
Initially, the board settled in July on former HP executive Ben Veghte for the CEO role, only to see him leave in January after what he and SurveyMonkey characterized as differences over the company’s strategy.
Former GoPro CEO Zander Lurie, a SurveyMonkey board member since 2009 and briefly interim CEO after Goldberg’s death, then took the top post. Releasing the app-tracking product marks Lurie’s first significant public accomplishment since joining the company full time.
"I don't sit around comparing myself to Dave,” Lurie said about his predecessor and close friend Goldberg in an interview, while crediting Goldberg for nurturing the company's growth and culture. "He laid a lot of the groundwork for me to be successful."
Goldberg had led SurveyMonkey since 2009 and built it into one of Silicon Valley’s first unicorns, meaning a venture-backed company worth more than $1 billion. In its last funding round in December 2014, the company was valued at $2 billion by investors including Tiger Global and Google Capital.
Any potential initial public offering is likely at least a year away, Lurie said.
SurveyMonkey Intelligence, which has a free edition but also more comprehensive versions that start at $79 a month, could help bolster SurveyMonkey’s coffers. The company is on track for $200 million in revenue this year, Lurie said.
SurveyMonkey will draw the data for Intelligence from users of phones and devices that run Apple's iOS and Google's Android technology. Its last significant product launch was its Benchmark analytics tool, released in April last year.
(Reporting by Sarah McBride; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)