Billed as a mobile data platform, mParticle has secured a $3 million seed round from Google Ventures, Buddy Media's Mike Lazerow and digital veterans Mike Walrath and Michael Barrett, who served stints at Yahoo as well. Read the release.
MParticle represents something of a reunion for the team that led interclick before its $270 million sale to Yahoo in November 2011. Katz wanted to emphasize that mParticle is less about himself and more about those three other former interclick executives: CTO Andrew Katz, Chief Product Officer Jason Lynn and COO David Myers.
As AllThingsD reported in March, Katz sued Yahoo over compensation from the sale (it remains unresolved). When asked what he took away from that experience, Katz referred us to a post on his personal Tumblr: "I didn’t spend much time thinking about the ‘why’; why I was fired, why it happened the way it did, as it was much more important for me to figure out the ‘what’ and ‘how’. What would I do next, and how would I get there."
Katz discussed the focus of the new company with AdExchanger and the implications for advertising as the industry tries to figure out how to use mobile data.
AdExchanger: What is mParticle? What is the point of differentiation from other mobile data platforms in the marketplace?
Michael Katz: MParticle is a platform for mobile app owners that puts them in control of their data assets. We’re focused on solving three primary challenges for our clients; data ownership, activation and attribution.
For app owners, there’s a rich and ever-evolving service layer ecosystem that provides them the tools to help them run their business but there's a ton of fragmentation. Additionally, these services require cumbersome SDK integrations and everyone is experiencing SDK fatigue.
Think of our service as a data router that allows app owners to intelligently and seamlessly route data to a number of different partners, get insights about the data being collected and sent and create rules to align data transfer with privacy policies or any other overarching business requirement. In a sense, we’re helping mobile app owners future-proof their businesses by making mobile data more mobile.
Are you just focusing on apps? Or the mobile Web at all? How do you see the difference in those two areas from an advertising and data perspective?
Primarily, we’re focused on apps, but we have a mobile Web solution, since many apps are really a mobile Web experience embedded in an "app wrapper" and need to solve for both use cases.
Over time we would like to address the challenges of mobile data ownership, activation and attribution in an omnichannel environment. I’d say the biggest area of difference between the two relates to the added security necessary to ensure privacy on the app data front. There are also big differences in the implementation required just based on the significant differences in object models from Web to mobile apps.
What's your sense of the opportunities and the challenges for mobile RTB? Do the limits (or lack of, in most cases) of cookie data in mobile represent a problem for advertisers?
I'm going to punt on the RTB conversation, since we’re focused on data opposed to ad serving. What I will say is that living in a world where cookies don’t exist is becoming a reality for everyone but where there are challenges, there’s opportunity.
Cookies make some of the tactical challenges easier – for the most part – because they serve as a common identifier but they are far from a perfect solution. There's a lot of work being done in the mobile identification management space to address this stuff and the nice thing is we are not bound to an archaic approach. It's very early but we get to improve, and in some cases rewrite, a lot of the rules in mobile.
What will the proceeds from the funding round go toward? What about hiring plans?
Proceeds go toward basic operating expenses (salaries, rent, G&A expenses, etc). We currently have 12 people on the team and we’re hiring implementation specialists, iOS and Android developers and sales candidates who have sold technology in the past.
Can you say anything about what you learned from the experience of creating and selling interclick and the time you spent at Yahoo? Anything about that experience influencing your decisions about starting mParticle?
I couldn’t be happier to back at it with an amazing team, backed by an incredible group of investors, and playing in a space where I think we can create real value.
At the outset, what's your vision for mParticle?
It's still so early, but there's more and more friction being created by existing approaches and solutions and it's important to break the cycle. Integrations are difficult, data control is nonexistent, and privacy concerns are an everyday concern. MParticle will make it easier for app owners, service providers and marketers to work with each other without the continual SDK development and app updates we see today.
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