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Kandji, an Apple device management platform for enterprises, has raised $100 million in a series C round of funding led by Tiger Global. The company is now valued at $800 million.
While Apple is well on its way to becoming a $3 trillion business, the Cupertino company has spawned a gargantuan ecosystem of entrepreneurs, from indie developers through to billion-dollar upstarts. Developers building on top of Apple’s platforms reportedly grew their total App Store billings and sales by 24% in 2020, rising to $643 billion. On the enterprise side meanwhile, Jamf shone a spotlight on the burgeoning Apple device management space when it hit the public markets last year, going on to become a $4 billion company.
It’s the latter of these spaces — big businesses that want to manage and deploy their Apple devices at scale — that Kandji has firmly in its line of sight. This is particularly crucial at a time when countless companies have been forced to embrace remote or hybrid working due to the global pandemic, with IT departments seeking new tools to configure their workers’ laptops, smartphones, and tablets from afar.
Founded in 2018, Kandji helps businesses such as Rackspace, Belkin, and DigiCert manage and secure all their Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. The Kandji platform includes auto-enroll configuration so that new employees can use their devices out-the-box, with pre-configured email and network accounts and all the apps they need for their specific role and location.
Companies might have different device requirements depending on the department or role that the employee works in. This is where its blueprints feature enters the fray, allowing admins to allocate specific configurations to each new device — this could mean, for example, different screen lock timeouts or passcode policies depending on where a device will be used and for what purpose they’ll be using it.
At its core, Kandji is all about automating many of the time-consuming manual processes that IT teams will typically have to engage in. The platform ships with some 150 pre-built automations that admins can toggle on and off.
Elsewhere, Kandji also offers what it calls Auto Apps, which include the likes of 1Password, Box, Zoom, Slack, and GitHub, serving as a library of pre-packaged applications that Kandji hosts and automatically patches. Admins can decide whether updates are enforced automatically.
Kandji offers a bunch of pre-built integrations, including with identity and access management (IAM) providers such as Okta; Oomnitza for asset management; Slack for alerts and notifications; and Vanta for compliance reporting. The company also provides an API that companies can use to pull data from any other systems.
Kandji had previously raised around $88 million, the bulk of which arrived via two funding rounds over the past 13 months. With another $100 million in the bank — which includes investments from Greycroft, Felicis Ventures, Okta Ventures, Definition Capital, Frontline Ventures, First Round Capital, The Spruce House Partnership, and B Capital Group — the San Diego-based company is well-financed to bolster its European expansion plans, which includes opening a new office in London.
An Apple a day
While Windows undoubtedly still rules the roost in terms of business (and consumer) market share, Macs are seemingly on the up. Recent data from IDC noted that MacOS devices now constitute around 23% of laptop / desktop devices in U.S. enterprises (1,000+ employees), representing a six percentage point increase on 2019. Moreover, iPhones make up nearly half of all smartphones in these same businesses, and iPads are the majority of tablets.
According to Kandji founder and CEO Adam Pettit, there are several factors driving this demand — but mostly it boils down to keeping workers happy and ensuring companies can keep their best employees in an increasingly competitive landscape.
“Apple adoption across the enterprise is boosted by employees, who — when given the choice of computing platforms — tend to choose Apple,” Pettit told VentureBeat. “Additionally, facing the ongoing ‘great resignation,’ businesses have recognized that giving employees their preference in the tech they use at work can keep their employees happier and retain talent. IT teams are also bullish on Apple devices, which are inherently secure and have powerful management capabilities built in.”
This “bottom-up” trend might go some way toward explaining why companies may be more inclined to choose Apple than they were perhaps a few years ago, but there is more to it than that — they also have to feel confident that they can manage thousands of devices in an increasingly distributed workforce. This combination is what enables companies such as Jamf and Kandji to flourish.
Citing data from Kandji’s own recent survey, 56% of IT leaders are apparently more confident in being able to remotely manage Apple devices today than they were two years ago, compared to just 37% for Windows. While all these figures will vary by industry, company size, and location (and also who is conducting the survey), it’s clear that there is more than enough demand for Apple in the enterprise for Kandji and its ilk.
Pettit said that while the company doesn’t disclose detailed customer deployment data, it does have more than 1,000 paying customers, with its pricing starting at $400 per month for a 100-device deployment and going all the way up to $9,000 for 3,000 devices.
“With our minimum pricing tier starting at 100 devices, most of our growth is coming from mid-to-large organizations,” he said.
It’s also worth noting that business on the lower-priced plans can pay extra to unlock API access and gain access to Passport, a recently launched authentication product that allows users to to use a single password for the Mac computers and their organization’s single sign-on (SSO) provider. These extra features are included in the monthly price as their device deployment requirements increase.
A hybrid world
The truth of the matter is, companies that are keen to appease their workers will likely have to adopt a hybrid approach — not everyone wants to use Apple devices, and not every company can afford to dole out Apple devices to everyone. So how does Kandji cater to these kinds of environments? And is it looking to broaden its horizons to support other hardware? Long story short, probably not any time soon.
“What we’ve observed in the market is that cross-platform products struggle to prioritize the management and configuration capabilities of Apple devices — there are specifics about the Apple operating systems and management protocols that require a depth of knowledge and focus,” Pettit explained. “We believe that making a best-in-class management experience for Apple devices will boost the confidence in those devices among IT teams and end-users alike, and help accelerate the adoption of Apple in the enterprise.”
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