As the use of artificial intelligence (AI) spreads across different industries, many organizations are working with partners to leverage the technology. AI data services are also becoming popular (Figure 1) as businesses require more data to fuel machine learning models and natural language processing (NLP) systems. Appen is one such company that fulfills businesses’ data needs. However, recent news1 suggests that the company is going through some rough waters.
If you are planning to invest in an AI data partner and are considering Appen, this article offers an in-depth evaluation of the company to help you make an informed decision.
Figure 1. Global interest in AI data services
Recent News About Appen
This section highlights some news regarding the Appen’s recent activities.
- Appen recently changed its CEO from Mark Brayan to Armughan Ahmad in December 20222.
- Our research identified that Appen has recently gone through some financial losses and is said to be losing some of its major clients.
- Reports suggest that the company’s revenue has reduced from $4.3 billion in August 2020 to $15 million in September 2023.
Figure 2. Appen’s financial performance3
Appen performance evaluation
Before committing to any tech partner, it is important to learn about its performance from the customer’s point of view. In this section, we highlight some reviews of customers gathered from third-party platforms, such as G2, to help you get an overall picture of the performance of Appen with its customers.
To evaluate the user ratings for Appen, we only considered platforms that had more than 10 reviews.
Table 1. Appen user ratings comparison
out of 5
This section highlights some positive and negative customer reviews of Appen identified from third-party platforms mentioned in the previous table. We analyzed the reviews and picked the useful ones.
Positive reviews of Appen
1. Regarding data processing projects (G2)
Some users found Appen’s data processing services effective and the user interface easy-to-use4.
2. Regarding data analysis service (G2)
Some customers found Appen’s data analysis service useful5.
Negative reviews of Appen
1. Regarding server crashes (G2)
Some customer reviews identified issues regarding server crashes. They stated that such issues could cause problems with time-sensitive projects6.
2. Regarding Appen’s application interface (G2)
Some customers stated that Appen’s application interface could be improved7.
3. Aggregate of Appen’s reviews from Trustpilot
Our analysis of the ~240 reviews from Trustpilot identified that most users/workers faced issues regarding late or non-payment after completing tasks. Reviews distribution of Appen8:
4. Compensation problems identified by customers
In the past, Google also showed concerns regarding Appen’s compensation practices while working on ‘the Bard Chatbot Project’. Google said that Appen pays less to its workers as compared to what it should pay9..
5. Working conditions issues identified by worker
Recently, Appen also faced accusations of imposing tight deadlines on freelancers working on generative AI tasks. Worker Ed Stackhouse alerted senators about the risks of these restrictive conditions through a letter10.
6. Aggregate of Appen’s reviews from Capterra11:
What is Appen?
Appen is an Australian-based company specializing in human-annotated data for machine learning and AI. Established in 1996, Appen has experienced consistent revenue growth by adapting to the technological landscape. With a key focus on AI data services, the company has acquired clients across multiple sectors, including automotive manufacturers and technology giants.
The people behind the company
Appen’s current CEO is Armughan Ahmad, who joined the company at the start of 2023. The company has over 1K employees, according to its website12.. Since the company operates through a crowdsourcing model, its global network of workers/contributors is over 1 million13.
Appen’s Services and Offerings
This section highlights some of the key services offered by Appen.
1. Data collection
Types of data collection offered:
- Textual data: Suitable for developing natural language processing (NLP) models or large language models (LLMs).
- Audio data: Used primarily to train voice or speech recognition technologies.
- Video data: Used to develop computer vision (CV) applications such as self-driving systems for vehicles.
- Geospatial data: Helpful for training mapping and navigation solutions.
2. Data annotation
Appen also offers data annotation services through its crowdsourcing platform.
Types of data annotation offered:
4. Search relevance
In 2017, Appen acquired Leapforce to add search relevance to its offerings. The search relevance services help improve the relevance and accuracy of search algorithms. The services include:
- Model & ads evaluation
- Cataloging-taxonomy development
- New feed content moderation
- Related search content moderation
5. Reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF)
Appen also offers RLHF services, specifically to develop Large language models (LLMs).
Before deciding on Appen, it can be beneficial to consider its alternatives. This section highlights some of the key Appen alternatives you can consider.
- Clickworker: Clickworker is an AI data service provider that works with a crowdsourcing model with a global network of over 4.5 million workers.
- Amazon Mechanical Turk: Amazon Mechanical Turk or MTurk offers AI data services through a crowdsourcing platform with a global network of over 500k workers.
- Telus International: Offer AI data services through a global network of over 1 million workers.
To learn more about Appen alternatives, check out this article.
AIMultiple serves numerous emerging tech companies, including Clickworker.