Button Brings Referral Mechanics To The App Ecosystem

JaconiMichael Jaconi, CEO of freshly funded mobile commerce startup Button, sees untapped opportunity in the app economy.

Specifically, he’s tailoring Button’s Deep-Link Commerce Platform as a utility to help encourage ongoing app usage rather than a one-time app install ad. Uber is among the company’s customers.

With a new $12 million Series A round in pocket courtesy of Redpoint Ventures, Jaconi will continue to ramp up engineering and design talent to develop the product and advance that vision.

A commerce vet himself, Jaconi was co-president of loyalty rewards platform FreeCause until its acquisition by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten in 2009, its second US deal following the LinkShare buy.

FreeCause was renamed Rakuten Loyalty, and Jaconi advised the company on ventures, one being its $100 million investment in Pinterest in 2012.

“I saw mobile commerce was going to be far larger than anything we had seen to date,” said Jaconi. “This ability to leverage the connectivity of apps, your location, was something that was different and unique.”

Thus, new venture Button, which he assembled last year with Mike Dudas, a former business development exec at Braintree/Venmo (acquired by PayPal) and four other cofounders, is predicated on the interconnectivity of the web and the seeming lack thereof in mobile.

For example, when you’re booking a hotel on the desktop site for Travelocity.com, it’s natural to receive affiliate offers for rental cars or flights either on the checkout page or within the email confirmation. Conversely, when you’re in a mobile app, your experience is often confined to that one app’s environment or you’re cycled back to the app store to download a related app, Jaconi said.

“In a lot of instances, intent is often generated in one app, but that intent or demand that’s been manifested is typically satisfied in another app,” Jaconi said. “What Button is enabling is breaking down the barriers between, ‘Hey, I’ve got this user who’s expressed this intent, now how do I satisfy it?’”

Premium dining reservation app Resy is Button’s referral partner.

Once a customer books a table through Resy, Button’s platform asks if they’ll need a ride to dinner. If the answer is yes, and they’re a non-Uber user, there will be a “Get An Uber” install card right within the confirmation page. It also includes such prompts as “Change Your Reservation,” “Add To Calendar” and “Cancel Reservation” to keep differing app functionalities tailored to a single app experience.

If that customer is already an Uber user, Resy will follow up with a push notification to automatically send a car based on their current location along with a reminder in advance of their upcoming reservation.

Additionally, Button wants to improve metrics for app retention, usage and time spent on related applications. When a partner app generates a sale (such as an Uber ride), a 15-20% commission is typically paid to Button, which it splits with the traffic referral source.

“Apps, messaging services, the social platforms – they’re connected 24/7,” said Jaconi. “This is the new Internet. Your ability to fold in context, content and infer intent [with as few] taps as possible can result in something really magical if you can crack it.”

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