top to bottom

The history of top to bottom It starts in 2002 when two computer science students from the University of Malaga set out to make it easier and more accessible to download programs and files for Windows. A lot has happened since then, although ownership of the company remains. In 19 years, the two partners have never had external investors, which they directly link to their success: their website is visited by 130 million unique users every month, which has brought them a turnover of 4.8 million euros in 2020.

for Luis Hernandezone of the founders and now CEO, the big leap came in 2010 when they added Android – the operating system for mobile phones and tablets – to their business model and acted as a marketplace for applications in the style of Google Play or the Apple Store.

“We have always been a very reactive company,” explains the entrepreneur. “We don’t believe in complex projections. First we build the community and based on that we saw it coming and built the business. But the product always comes first. Not that there was a moment of clarity… We always knew that in a market like software with a lot of offers it made sense to create a platform where you can order everything. We were among the first to ride the application catalog wave, which gave us a boost in numbers, especially in Latin America,” he says.

Especially in this market, the Latin American one, Uptodown has built up a solid community from which they have been able to grow step by step. Hernández points out that they have always focused on the product, which was possible thanks to the lack of outside investors. “We’ve had very organic growth since we’ve never bought traffic or ads, so everything has been very moderate and safe,” he estimates. Also, “the fact that the founders are non-business connects us more to the technology and to the product, which allows us to react and adapt quickly.”

The data support their model. In 2020, the Uptodown App Store generated 500 million downloads and 130 million unique visitors every month. Those numbers, on top of a business model that bills developers around 20% of every sale made on the marketplace, have seen them bill €4.8 million in the last financial year, up 37% from the previous year.

In this sense, Hernández acknowledges that there are factors that “created the need for an independent player” in the market for selling mobile applications. Apple’s wars with some developers over payment commissions in video games, the technological war between China and the United States…

Compete with Google or Apple

“For us, the secret is not to compete fiercely,” Hernández begins, answering the million-dollar question. “We’ve always said that the fact that Android is growing is good for us and good for Google. But if they wanted to wipe us off the map, of course they wouldn’t have a problem with that.” For now, the tech giant doesn’t seem to have any plans to end the competition in this segment by trying to emulate Apple, which doesn’t allow any outside company to Distribute software within its iOS operating system.

The domain of Google Play in the field of Android application stores is also related to this. “Our desire is not to go against them to replace it, but to look at us as an additional option. We want there to be as many options as possible and that you can choose where to install an app,” explains the entrepreneur.

Uptodown’s main user groups are located in emerging countries such as India, Brazil, Iraq, Indonesia or Mexico, where they can increase the added value of their platform compared to the tech giant. “These markets need quick access to applications that Google sometimes finds difficult to reach, as can happen in China due to competition problems, or simply because they need a faster way that does not require a payment system from the moment you arrive, like you do You don’t need to open an account to download a game or app…”

Although Google doesn’t aim to eliminate alternative marketplaces, they try to protect their product by prioritizing downloads in their store. However, it’s something that Hernández doesn’t seem to be concerned about. “It is just as legitimate for them to erect walls in their yard as it is for us to try to break down those barriers. Here lies the competitive grace and differentiation factor that makes Android a better operating system than Apple’s iOS,” he says.

Cyber ​​security key

One of the aspects that Uptodown has had to worry about the most in order to achieve the current business figures has to do with cyber security. Users often tend to bring alternative application marketplaces into play as a source of viruses for their computer devices, which according to Hernández also has something to do with the image of the large technology groups. “If you say the rest of the business is dangerous, you’ve already made the communication.”

To change this idea, the company has worked for two years to ensure that payment methods and security procedures are sufficient so that they are not rejected. “Many companies are on the right track because they haven’t bothered about it,” admits the entrepreneur.

The applications offered on Uptodown undergo a strict security check. On the one hand, several antivirus programs scan all content uploaded to the store; On the other hand, the company’s team tests all applications and classifies and recommends them in a personalized way

SALES DEVELOPMENT (million euros)

2012: 1.1

2014: 1.6

2016: 3.1

2018: 3.5

2020: 4.8

internet, uptodown