Apple hires former venture capitalist Josh Elman for App Store discovery role

in General Discussion edited November 2020
As part of Apple's ongoing efforts to improve app discovery, the company has hired former venture capitalist Josh Elman for a related role on the App Store.

Credit: Josh Elman
Credit: Josh Elman

In a statement Monday, Elman said he would be joining Apple to "help customers discover the best apps for them." He added that he was excited to "build ways to help over a billion customers and millions of developers connect."

3/ I'm really excited to get to build ways to help over a billion customers and millions of developers connect.

-- Josh Elman (@joshelman)

As part of the transition to the new role at Apple, Elman said he would be stepping back from some of his active boards and investments -- including Discord and Medium.

Elman was previously a venture capitalist at Greylock Partners and led early investments in Discord and the precursor to TikTok. Until 2019, he was also the vice president of product at Robinhood.

Elman's experience identifying and investing in apps that later became hits could help Apple in its app and software promotion endeavors. According to Bloomberg, the former venture capitalist could also help smooth over the relationship between Apple and developers.

Two of Elman's most successful investments now belong to Apple competitors: smart home technology firm SmartThings and game developer HouseParty. Those companies are now owned by Samsung and Epic Games, respectively. Apple is currently in a legal battle with Epic Games over in-app payments.

Apple's app marketplace has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, both from antitrust regulators and developers. In moves likely meant to mitigate potential backlashes, Apple tweaked its review guidelines and introduced a new small business program that cuts App Store commissions to 15% for the majority of developers.


  • Reply 1 of 2
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,132member
    This is a huge challenge and I wish him all the best.

    One thing that would help me decide whether an app was right for me is if I could actually run it (test drive mode) on my machine before committing to the purchase. 

    In my opinion, the current App Store discovery search engine uses a too narrow, too shallow, and too limited enumerative classification scheme. It's only working for a couple levels of hierarchy - at best. When I use the search and navigation tools I still feel like I'm only seeing a tiny fraction of the potential apps that may fit my needs.

    I'd like to see Apple try to implement something that is more akin to a faceted classification scheme (FCS) instead, with app developers able to submit profiles that define both the common facets as defined by the App Store for all apps, in addition to application-specific facets that are common for the app category that the app identifies with. An example of search models that bring along FCS-like aspects are the Kayak flight search tool, and to a lesser extend, Amazon's product search. These schemes basically provide a candidate list that gets reduced in size as you select more and more facets. It's a simple concept but quite computationally intensive.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    Seems like an odd choice to me, especially since there would be the risk of a venture capitalist using the position to self-deal or help out his venture capital connections.
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