Applause: Crowdsourced User Experience Testing

Applause crowdsources 300,000+ testers located in 200+ countries and territories who get paid for testing digital products and provide user experience feedback and report glitches

Founded in 2007 and based in Framingham, Massachusetts, Applause is the world’s largest “In-The-Wild” testing service which allows companies to test their user experiences before officially launching their applications, websites, or connected devices.  The testing and analytics industry has long-time been dominated by large players such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and CA Technologies.  However, unlike these incumbents, Applause crowdsources its testers from around the world.  Applause crowdsources 300,000+ testers located in 200+ countries and territories who get paid for testing digital products and provide user experience feedback and report glitches.  As Applause CEO and co-founder Doron Reuveni states, “More and more, customer-facing digital experiences are the front door to brands, and the ability to research, test, and aggregate user feedback from people who mirror a company’s customers is a major competitive advantage for our customers.”[1]  Over the last decade Applause has generated quite an impressive customer base which includes tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber, PayPal, eBay as well as consumer brands such as McDonald’s, Nike, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Ford, BMW, Rolex, Adidas, and Disney.

One main challenge for Applause is managing its growth while maintaining control over its expanding community of testers.  As Applause’s future relies on the integrity and value created by its crowdsourced testers, the company makes sure each tester is vetted before interacting with the company’s clients.  Each tester must create a profile, complete training, and sign an NDA.  Security is key and testers are banned from talking or blogging about any current projects with violation resulting in a lifetime ban from the network.  Once on a project, testers evaluate products based on 10 attributes: content, elegance, interoperability, performance, pricing, privacy, satisfaction, security, stability, and usability.  Testers are constantly evaluated themselves by Applause’s customers based on the volume and quality of their work.  Applause’s customers have ultimate approval on how much testers get paid based on the value-add of the tester’s feedback and how many glitches and failures the tester identifies.[2]  “Only by creating a great deal of value for customers do you rise up the ranks; if you’re not creating value for customers, you’re not invited to future projects,” says Matt Johnston, Applause’s Chief Strategist.[3]  Last year, Applause paid its network of testers ~$25 million of the ~$100 million the company made in revenue.[4]

I believe the growth potential is huge for Applause.  The value of real-time, pre-launch customer feedback cannot be understated.  For years the testing industry has been extremely antiquated with testers going to labs in order for companies to receive pre-launch feedback.  I personally oversaw the testing of a new product while I was at MasterCard.  I spent two days at a testing lab behind a one-way mirror observing testers interactions with the product.  It was a very time-consuming project and ultimately did not give us very valuable insight.  Applause solves the problem by allowing companies to real-time test with a community of crowdsourced diverse testers providing valuable feedback.






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Student comments on Applause: Crowdsourced User Experience Testing

  1. Applause unfortunately ultimately hit a ceiling that caused it to dramatically re-evaluate its growth trajectory, ultimately leading to a sale to private equity firm Vista partners. While the idea of farming bug hunting/squashing was an extremely compelling one, unfortunately, a combination of stronger programming languages, better IDEs, hot competition for QE talent, and a fragmented marketspace caused the company to falter and ultimately stagnate.

    I think that there is still significant opportunity to be had in the QE/application developer operations but it will likely be in operations automation rather than crowdsourced bug testing. I’m afraid this is one the machines have already won.

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