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Author: Katy Logan

Top 10 Stack Highlights of 2018

Top 10 Stack Highlights of 2018

Before we know it, we’ll be preparing for Black Friday and lamenting about how fast it all goes — so it’s best we take a moment to marvel at a successful 2018 before it’s too late. Here are ten top highlights worth a second look.

We Grew

As our business grew, so did our team. We onboarded 16 new employees in 2018, including a VP of Engineering, VP of Sales, designers, commerce writers, and much more. As always, a recruiter’s job is never done. Check out our current openings if you’re interested in joining our amazing team in 2019.

We Built

Our weekly meme-filled product release emails are a highlight in themselves, but the results of the 60+ updates are even more impressive. Some standout releases from our Product and Engineering teams include:

Subscription Commerce: We’re always looking for new, creative ways to increase revenue for our partners. One of the biggest challenges of native commerce is getting a reader to purchase more than once. That’s why we’ve been zeroing in on elevating the lifetime value of each customer via subscription commerce. We first launched this new application as Skillwise Pro, a build-your-own eLearning course bundle monthly subscription. Next, we expanded subscription commerce to our Shops platform in order to allow publishers to turn one-time purchasers into recurring revenue. We’re excited to continue to build on this technical infrastructure in 2019 to offer partners even more ways to retain and nourish customer relationships.

GDPR & Fraud: These key updates were crucial to our overall customer experience and something near and dear to our mission: digital security. Our GDPR updates allow us to protect the digital privacy of all our customers, an issue of growing importance in today’s climate. We also released new fraud-fighting technology to protect against fraudulent purchases and activity on behalf of our entire network.

We Gathered

We held our second annual publisher round table event in New York, bringing together a panel of voices from a wide variety of top publishers, including: CNN, Gizmodo Media Group, Hearst Digital Media, and NBCUniversal. We were honored to have Digiday writer and publisher commerce expert Max Willens lead us in an inspiring night of conversation. We’re already looking forward to holding this event again next year!

We Partied

We work hard, we play hard — and 2018 was no exception. Our annual cruise to Mexico was a hit as always, and a fantastic opportunity for our team to unwind and connect outside of the daily grind. Later in the year, we gathered with family, friends, and partners to celebrate Stack’s seventh birthday with tacos and tequila. It’s one of our favorite traditions and the perfect time to reflect on how far we’ve come over the years. We finished the year off with a company-sponsored white elephant and our annual holiday bash!

We Expanded

With more faces around the office—and more desks to match—we officially took over the next-door office, nearly doubling our space. We’re thrilled to now have an expanded office space and still enjoy our amazing location along the Venice boardwalk.

We Won

This year, we were proud to be recognized by Comparably for our top performing company culture. We were awarded in multiple categories, including: Perks & Benefits, Best Company (Los Angeles), Best CEO (Los Angeles), Best CEO for Women and Diversity (Los Angeles), and Professional Development. We were especially proud of our CEO and Founder, Josh, who was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award here in Los Angeles.

We Learned

We heard our publishers, vendors, and customers, and worked on solutions to better address their needs. We have a multitude of exciting projects in the works, including: premium customer support that offers additional VIP treatment, a warranty program to better assure customers of product quality, faster shipping options, and more. We’re making bold business decisions to further the success and satisfaction of our entire network.

We Wrote

Our Brand Studio team produced 11,000 articles in 2018 to support the commerce efforts of our publisher partners. Connecting customers with brands via quality content is our bread and butter, and we’re excited to watch our Brand Studio continue to be a pioneer in the world of commerce content in 2019.

We Launched

2018 marked the official launch of StackMedia, the performance media branch of StackCommerce. We brought on Natalie Tarpinian as our new Vice President of Sales to spearhead these efforts, as we looked to round out our monetization toolkit by offering guaranteed premium content placements that drive users directly to brand sites rather than Shops. Launch partners included Microsoft, Snap, HelloSign, Monday.com, Vincero, Arcadia Power, Helix, and dozens more.

We Did It Together

We wouldn’t be here without our partnerships. This year, we partnered with 270 new brands and 50 new publishers and celebrated $100 million in payouts to our creator community. 2019 will continue to be about growing and serving our native commerce network — will you join us?!

 

We’re Celebrating $100 Million In Payouts to Our Creator Community

We’re Celebrating $100 Million In Payouts to Our Creator Community

We’re thrilled to announce today that we’ve reached a financial milestone of $100 million in total payouts to our creator network of publishers and brands! From the beginning, our creator network has been our foundation and driving force, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to reach this pivotal milestone.

Back in 2011, we got our start by connecting niche, tech-focused content sites and their readers with highly relevant tech products through commerce content. Since then, we’ve expanded into the men’s lifestyle vertical, partnering with online content creators like theCHIVE and AskMen and connecting them with awesome up-and-coming lifestyle brands including new-to-market Kickstarter successes like Bomber Barrel and Illumibowl. Today, our brand ecosystem includes over 2,500 product creators big and small including household names like Rosetta Stone, Audible, Grammarly, and Hulu. This milestone is a testament to their innovation, creativity, and strong partnerships.

Since then, we’ve entered the women’s lifestyle space in 2017 with the acquisition of Joyus, and more recently, the news vertical. Today, we work with over 750 diverse bloggers, online media publishers, and linear television producers, including CBS Interactive, Vox Media, Mashable, Gizmodo Media, TechCrunch, Tegna, Aol, Scripps, The Daily Beast and others.

Our CEO and Founder Josh Payne put it best when he noted, “I couldn’t think of a more important landmark as we celebrate our seventh birthday as a company. Our mission is about serving the world’s creators, whether it be journalists creating content, brands creating products, software developers creating apps, or instructors creating online courses to share with the world. Our vision is that StackCommerce not only helps creators financially today, but fuels them to continue to innovate and grow for years to come.”

Looking forward, we’re excited to serve our creators in fresh, innovative ways, including through our recent launch of StackMedia. Our new performance-based native advertising arm leverages network data and partnerships to drive consumers directly to brands’ websites, rather than into publisher shops. We’re thrilled to announce an amazing list of launch partners, including Microsoft, Snap, HelloSign, Monday.com, Vincero, Arcadia Power, Helix, and dozens more. This new division truly rounds out our monetization toolkit, furthering our mission of serving content and product creators.

StackCommerce Announces Partnership With MacHeist

StackCommerce Announces Partnership With MacHeist

StackCommerce is proud to announce our latest partnership with leading Mac app online destination, MacHeist. MacHeist is a true pioneer in the Mac app space, and all of us at StackCommerce are thrilled to be joining forces in order to open the new MacHeist Store.

We’ve long been fans of MacHeist, primarily known for its innovative “heist” puzzle games that guided users through challenges in order to gain access to special Mac deals and bundles. Now, with our exclusive partnership, we’ll be able to offer MacHeist fans one-of-a-kind deals on bundles, apps, and other Mac-centric finds.

We’re excited to work in tandem to push the limits in the Mac space, and deliver the best Mac bundles yet to the MacHeist community. You can learn more and visit the new store here.

StackCommerce Launches Skillwise Pro: The First Online Course Bundle Subscription Service

StackCommerce Launches Skillwise Pro: The First Online Course Bundle Subscription Service

Earlier today, our CEO and Founder, Josh Payne, officially announced the launch of Skillwise Pro, the first online course bundle subscription service.

“Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Skillwise Pro, the first build-your-own bundle online course subscription platform. Skillwise Pro offers students a selection of nine exclusive, curated courses each month and allows them to choose the three that best suit their personal and career goals. The concept of the bundle, or a collection of courses sold for one discounted price, is certainly not new to our customers. We’ve sold over 1.5 million course bundles to students worldwide, delivering courses on skills ranging from coding to design to marketing to poker.”

Not only are we excited to offer this unique subscription service to students worldwide, but we’re thrilled to deliver an additional revenue stream to our community of online instructors. Now including over 400 instructors in a diverse array of specialties from coding to drawing to business, our community of course creators inspired us to pursue course bundles as a subscription service.

We’ve paid our instructors over $15 million in earnings and counting, and look forward to watching that number soar with the addition of Skillwise Pro,” noted Payne.

Read more on the launch here and browse the new app here.

 

StackCommerce Named to Built in LA’s 100 Best Places To Work In Los Angeles

StackCommerce Named to Built in LA’s 100 Best Places To Work In Los Angeles

At StackCommerce, we take great pride in the work environment and team we’ve built, which is why we’re thrilled to be included in Built In LA’s impressive list of Angelino companies for 2018! Released earlier this month, Built In LA’s list of the 100 Best Places To Work In Los Angeles is created based on a combination of compensation and benefits — from medical, dental, and vision coverage to our packed calendar of culture events. The complete rankings will be released in January.

This award is a testament to our commitment to building a passionate team of individuals that’s always ready to work hard and play hard. And since we’re on the subject, here’s a taste of what the HR and culture team’s been up to this summer:

Team Dodger Game

The team braved the 10 freeway for a night of Dodger dogs, micheladas, and LA’s favorite boys in blue. The Dodgers pulled off a victory, making the Stack team undefeated in appearances at Chavez Ravine!

CEO & Founder Josh Payne speaks at the team offsite. Photo Credit: Jessica Franksen

Team Offsite

Our annual all-day offsite led us up PCH for a sunny day in Topanga Canyon! This year, we spent time sharing individual department accomplishments and goals with the larger group, with an overarching theme of #oneteam. As always, we walked away well-fed, exhausted, and inspired to tackle Q4!

Team members perform at the offsite talent show. Photo Credit: Jessica Franksen

Office Expansion

Perhaps most importantly, we’re excited to announce that Stack HQ has expanded! We love our prime location right next to the Venice boardwalk, but space was at a premium as our team continues to grow. Luckily, we were able to take over the adjacent space and are happily moved into our expanded office.

Case Story: How VPN Unlimited Sold Over 237k VPN Subscriptions

Case Story: How VPN Unlimited Sold Over 237k VPN Subscriptions

Marketing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is no cakewalk in 2018 — but imagine the task at hand four years ago when VPNs were a foreign concept to most. A secret server that takes your invisible data and does what exactly? Where would you find the right audience? How would you even begin to explain such a complex subject within the confines of a simple ad unit?

This dilemma is what sparked the partnership between KeepSolid (and their product, VPN Unlimited) and StackCommerce. Four years later, the two have sold over 237k subscriptions to VPN Unlimited and KeepSolid has expanded its offering to six products. But let’s pause there and start at the very beginning, shall we?

Designing a Content Marketing Plan 

In August of 2014, KeepSolid, a productivity and privacy protection software company, was looking to expand its product portfolio into digital information security. Long before Equifax, Target, and the daily data breach news reel, there was still a demand, albeit more niche, for an online consumer security solution. In other words, people were seriously skeptical about using the internet, especially in public places.

Vasyl Ivanov, CEO of KeepSolid, noted “existing VPNs were complicated and expensive, so we decided to create a user-friendly, easy-to-use — and at the same time affordable — solution.” The idea was there, but the lean team had no dedicated marketing resources for the service, and enlisted StackCommerce to help get it off the ground.

Reaching New Audiences

Turns out that StackCommerce’s publisher partners provided the perfect ecosystem of engaged readers, starting with tech sites like Engadget, Cult of Mac, and Macworld, to grow the VPN’s user base. Through the distribution of advertorial content ranging from 200-1,000 words, each personalized to individual publisher audiences, KeepSolid was able to fully explain the value of a VPN as a solution to a very serious, growing problem.

VPN Unlimited on Engadget

Not only did they connect with targeted groups of iOS enthusiasts from Stack’s Apple-centric publishers, but they quickly realized an interest in the Android, Windows, and Linux communities, as well — allowing them to prioritize building alternative client apps without significant risk. Later, they started connecting with men’s lifestyle publications. News outlets. Women’s lifestyle blogs. People recognized they weren’t safe from hackers and everyone is ultimately interested in protecting themselves.

Finding a Content Angle

KeepSolid elevated its success even further by curating a “lifetime” deal to be offered exclusively on StackCommerce’s network. That’s when they struck gold. Lifetime access?! You’ll never have to worry about hackers again?! There’s the story — and publisher audiences were ready and willing to get onboard. This deal alone accounted for over half of the overall sales (164k units), thanks to the unique, newsworthy angle.

VPN Unlimited

But we don’t just love this story because of the numbers. We partner with new-to-market brands every day in hopes that they will see the same success as KeepSolid. “The partnership with StackCommerce gave us the chance to make a leap to the next level of quality and performance as well as invest in new projects. We had big expectations from StackCommerce. They surpassed them,” said Ivanov. Music to our ears. Are you ready to become the next KeepSolid? Contact our Sales Department today sales@stackcommerce.com to get started.