How OneSignal pivoted to power notifications for 1 in 7 apps

After leading its Series A and B, SignalFire backs OneSignal’s new $50M Series C

 

There’s a grand tradition amongst ambitious gaming startups. When their game proves too heady, before its time, or simply too weird, they pivot to selling the infrastructure they built along the way. Fates Forever became Discord. Glitch became Slack. So too did Go Ninja become OneSignal…and developers around the world better off because of it.

George Deglin and his team had grown frustrated with the weak push notification infrastructure available to his previous company Hiptic games. Without notifications, a once loyal but absentminded player could forget about Go Ninja and churn out. The existing solutions weren’t enterprise-focused, self-serve, performant, or affordable. So they decided to roll their own.

Pretty soon not just gaming companies were demanding access, and the company went all in on the pivot to selling push notification infrastructure. Within a short time, OneSignal wracked up 300,000 registered users by offering a product-led service with a generous free tier where users could sign up and be sending notifications within minutes without having to talk to anyone – exactly what they were once looking for. 

The secret sauce was OneSignal’s ability to run their infrastructure very efficiently, reminding me of my days at Google. OneSignal’s technical team used dedicated hardware (no cloud services!) and efficient systems programming languages (Rust) to process billions of push notifications at an extremely low cost.

After we at SignalFire made our initial investment in 2017, we doubled down in 2019. Our cultures aligned – both teams are full of data nerds eager to help their fellow engineers. While they built out push infra, we helped them build up their team with our own homegrown recruiting technology Beacon. It helped them find not just the strongest PMs and engineers, but the ones that were most likely to leave their job for a new challenge.

OneSignal’s torrid growth continued, and today it has 1.7M registered developers and marketers. It processes over 10B notifications per day and has rolled out an omnichannel product, making it a one-stop shop for any company that needs to communicate with its users via mobile push, web push, email, SMS, or in-app messaging. OneSignal processes more notifications than all of its competitors combined, and 1 out of every 7 new mobile apps uses OneSignal. 

To power its continued growth and continue its ascent to becoming the default way that developers communicate with customers the company today announced a $50M Series C led by Jamie McGurk at BAM Elevate. Rather than building a few games, George and the team are empowering an entire generation of developers of all stripes. And they seem to be having even more fun doing it.

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