The consumer experience is frequently starting mobile-first as the medium, as smartphone applications facilitated over $133 billion in transactions in 2021, yet buggy experiences cause users to rapidly churn. Instabug, founded by Omar Gabr and Moataz Soliman, is the first “mobile observability and performance monitoring platform” for developers of smartphone applications. The San Francisco-based startup has raised a $46M Series B round led by Insight Partners, with participation from existing investors Accel and new participants Forgepoint Capital and Endeavor. Instabug counts DoorDash, Verizon, IHG, ABInveb, Porsche, Qualtrics, Gojek and more among its customer base.
Ganesh Bell, Managing Director at Insight Partners, says, “Mobile app development is exploding as enterprises invest in apps that delight and engage their customers. In talking to the mobile developers that make this possible, it was clear to us that Instabug was their tool of choice for bug reporting, crash analytics, and app performance monitoring – specifically focused on the mobile app stack. Mobile developers want a solution purpose-built for them, and Instabug empowers developers to build high-performance mobile experiences for the world’s largest mobile-first enterprises.”
Accel General Partner Rich Wong adds, “We are excited to see the great progress and scaling of the Instabug team, but it’s only the beginning still of a growing opportunity. Instabug is yet another wonderful example that market leading global companies can now be founded from so many places across the globe. It’s an exciting time.”
Frederick Daso: How has Instabug’s approach to fulfilling the company’s mission to support engineering and product teams evolved from the seed stage to now?
Omar Gabr and Moataz Soliman: Our approach to fulfilling this mission has evolved in three primary ways. First, the application’s lifecycle stage covered by our solutions: from pre-release to in-production. Second, the approach to issue tolerance: from reactive and focused on fatal issues to proactively identifying app behaviors that affect the users’ perception of the application’s quality. And third, addressing organizational complexity: from solving for the developer to solving for mobile development teams at scale.
The seed stage focused on opening a communication line between users or testers and developers. The user or tester can submit an issue they experienced first-hand to the app developers and product owners. This is still a critical need for developers, especially for mobile-first companies that leverage their employees for large beta testing programs. This capability was focused on the pre-launch stage of the app’s lifecycle and focused on capturing an issue once it has been experienced as a bug by the application’s user.
As our relationship with engineering teams and product owners grew deeper, we saw the need. We began to create for visibility of issues that had not been reported by users and that had taken place in production environments. Crash reporting capabilities address fatal issues experienced by users.
Next, we began building to create visibility around issues that may not be a fatal issue or crash, but that would still affect a user’s perception of the application’s quality, UI hangs, or slow app launches. Along with other relevant metrics, these have come to give developers a holistic view of their application’s quality and performance, including performance changes over time and how pervasive the issues have been. They have also provided granular visibility into what devices, operating systems, or environmental circumstances are triggering these issues.
Recently, we have experienced very positive results in solving challenges that affect large organizations. Challenges around issue triage, code ownership and alert management can seriously slow down an organization’s ability to fix issues.
Expectations from mobile app users continue to rise, and so does the percentage of revenue that digital enterprise leaders drive from mobile interactions. Their ability to succeed is highly dependent on their ability to impress customers via high-quality mobile experiences. We aim to enable these businesses to deliver the highest quality possible as we grow.
Daso: What key features will you add to your existing offerings of issue detection, debugging and management capabilities in this new stage of growth in the company?
Gabr and Soliman: All of our innovation and development truly come from listening to our customers. We work closely with each customer to hear what solutions they would like to see further development of and benefit the most from. One of the more exciting features that will be rolling out is building out code ownership capabilities even further. Teams within our customer base will have more control and clarity over their area of responsibility. The ability to assign developers to teams and teams to unique pieces of code, to determine which criteria are most important to each team, and to determine how alerts are triggered if certain issues arise will eliminate confusion and provide a clearer path forward to a solution.
Additionally, we continue to invest in furthering the ability to identify patterns as issues take place via smart and more granular filters. And we will be expanding integrations with other relevant solutions in the performance monitoring and data visualization space to enable users to more seamlessly integrate Instabug’s insights into their workflows. The need for these capabilities came directly from customer feedback, which is key for us when looking to the future of Instabug.
Daso: How did you initially realize the concept of an observation and performance monitoring platform, and what is your plan to transform Instabug into becoming that?
Gabr and Soliman: There is a clear gap in the market. Over the years, plenty of solutions have focused on providing observability and performance monitoring for server-side and web-based applications. However, mobile application developers have continued to struggle to understand how their applications are performing. Many have settled for basic monitoring provided by those solutions. Some have continued to focus on fatal issues like crashes – reacting to what is broken rather than identifying issues that can improve user experience and overall perceived quality of the application.
Given the rapid growth of mobile-first organizations and the rapid increase of customer interactions that happen via mobile, the need to improve app performance has become a key priority for many businesses. Instabug’s mobile observability and performance monitoring platform addresses this priority.
For Instabug, observability refers to the depth of visibility provided about issues, including device, network, and session data, and stack traces that provide info about where in the application an error occurred.
Performance monitoring refers to identifying key metrics and setting benchmarks that the team can aim for by prioritizing and fixing app issues. By being mobile-first, we can be fully focused on increasing the depth of visibility and highlighting metrics that correlate to user experience and perceived quality.
Daso: Among all of the strategic new partnerships you’ve confirmed recently, which type of customer has the most stringent requirements that will demand the best of Instabug’s product and engineering capabilities?
Gabr and Soliman: We put our best capabilities forward for developing all parts of our product. We have been doubling down on the challenges faced by larger mobile teams. Enterprises, where big teams of developers are involved in the development of a mobile application face unique challenges related to code ownership, issue prioritization, triage, and alert management. These types of organizations have stringent requirements around stability, flexibility and security that we have been able to meet and exceed.
Daso: Why do mobile developers not have access to the level of observability, performance or user-level insights that their web counterparts have?
Gabr and Soliman: Today, many available solutions on the market are splitting focus between web dev and mobile dev, limiting the scope of data they’re collecting for mobile developers. This leaves mobile teams with the short end of the stick in a couple of ways. First, it doesn’t provide enough granularity about what is happening within the application’s code. Second, it de-prioritizes the visibility of mobile issues within the scope of the total infrastructure, as those solutions don’t provide dashboards and notifications that are built with a mobile-first mindset. Our platform zeroes in on what mobile developers are looking for.
Observability, performance, and user-level insights can only be leveraged if your platform collects in-depth metrics and has visibility on each session on your app. Instabug’s mobile-first approach has allowed our team to develop a platform that goes beyond generic monitoring and into observability by collecting data from individual users’ sessions. This provides developers with a wealth of information that allows them to devise solutions while understanding the entire story of what’s happening within the app and deploying fixes quicker without combing code to find the problem.
Daso: What information does server-side performance monitoring not capture? How can you ensure you can be the best-in-class client-side performance monitoring?
Gabr and Soliman: Building for server-side is very much different than building for mobile. For the companies that are focused on server-side monitoring, mobile isn’t just one more platform that they can support. It would require a lot of re-architecture to their systems to fully support mobile.
There are many pieces of information that these solutions don’t capture. Some of them are: capturing stack traces of exactly what happened within the application code, showing insights and details on app behavior – like app launch, screen load, and UI Hangs- bug reporting overviews and device environment details.
Instabug is continuing to be best-in-class by consistently prioritizing the needs of mobile teams and by continuing to be a partner and guide to enterprises willing to exceed mobile user expectations.