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Introducing Native Social Video for Monetizing Your Social Channels

Introducing Native Social Video for Monetizing Your Social Channels

In today’s digital world, monetizing your audience takes more than focusing on the readers that hit your homepage. With more and more publisher traffic originating from social media sites like Facebook, there’s a clear need for fresh, innovative strategies. That’s why we’re excited to announce our Native Social Video offering, which allows our publisher partners to utilize social media traffic to build a new, video-based revenue stream.

During its first few months in beta, Native Social Video content generated over 100 million views, 500,000 shares, 400,000  likes, and more than $1M in gross sales — clear signs that there is high demand for snackable videos featuring engaging products.

By creating these videos at scale, we’ve successfully helped partners with large Facebook followings that historically struggled to directly monetize their rapidly growing social audiences. By utilizing our platform in addition to their own audience insights to drive on-site impressions and purchases via social video, Native Social Video’s launch partners have seen video commerce increase their total commerce-related revenue over 20%. Users have purchased over 30,000 products as direct result.

“Fresh monetization solutions are critical for the future of publishing, and digital publishers need to be open to utilizing e-commerce in completely new ways” said Ben Gafni, VP of Business Development. “Driving revenue through social commerce — in particular, the way we’re doing so through video — is poised to be a huge trend for publishers in 2017. By creating engaging product videos specifically for social, we’re helping publishers to monetize an increasingly mobile, and ad-averse, readership.”

We’re rapidly rolling out social video commerce across our network. To read more, see our official press release.

StackCommerce CEO Josh Payne Named Semifinalist for EY 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year

StackCommerce CEO Josh Payne Named Semifinalist for EY 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year

We couldn’t be happier to announce that our Founder and CEO, Josh Payne, was named a semifinalist in the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Greater Los Angeles Awards program. Over the past 30 years, this award has been recognizing extraordinary success in areas like financial performance, innovation, and commitment to the community. This prestigious business award has previously recognized leaders like Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc.,and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn Corporation.

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“It’s a privilege to be considered for this award alongside some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. I’m humbled by the nomination and grateful for the opportunity to lead and grow my amazing team at StackCommerce every day. I’m incredibly proud of everything we’ve accomplished over the past five years on behalf of publishers and brands around the globe, and thrilled to represent our exceptional company,” noted Josh.

The Greater Los Angeles award recipients will be announced at a black‐tie gala held on June 15 at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

Visit the EY Entrepreneur of the Year website for more information and follow us on Twitter @StackCommerce for updates on Josh’s journey!

Stack Chat: CEO Josh Payne Talks Native Commerce on The Makegood

Stack Chat: CEO Josh Payne Talks Native Commerce on The Makegood

We’re thrilled to be included in The Makegood’s ‘People of Ad Tech’ series! In this segment, our CEO and founder Josh Payne explained the importance of ‘native’ as an essential component of the modern digital publisher’s monetization toolkit. Check out the full interview below:

People of Ad Tech: StackCommerce CEO Josh Payne from Tom Hespos on Vimeo.

StackCommerce Welcomes Ben Gafni, VP of Publisher & Business Development, to the Executive Team

StackCommerce Welcomes Ben Gafni, VP of Publisher & Business Development, to the Executive Team

We’re thrilled to announce the addition of Ben Gafni to the StackCommerce team! With an expansive publisher network currently reaching over 1 billion monthly visitors across more than 750 publisher partners worldwide, we are always searching for new ways to better serve our ecosystem.

We couldn’t be happier to have Ben leading the charge on the growth and evolution of our publisher network as our new VP of Publisher and Business Development. Ben joined us from Google where he provided incredible leadership to the publisher-facing development team for over 12 years. Today, we are picking his brain on everything from his time at Google to his vision for the future of StackCommerece’s publisher network.

Liz: You recently joined StackCommerce after a long tenure at Google. Can you describe the evolution of your time there?

Ben: After starting my career in strategy consulting in New York, I joined a startup here in LA called Applied Semantics, which launched my career working with publishers. Applied Semantics created AdSense, one of the first contextual ad targeting technologies designed to help publishers monetize in a new way with text ads. When Google acquired the company in 2003, I joined Google’s publisher-facing business development team and worked to sign search and content syndication deals across multiple verticals. My role evolved over time, as Google acquired Doubleclick and began to work with partners in a much more multifaceted way led by ad platform technology and programmatic monetization across display, mobile and video. Most recently, I led a team in LA focused on Google’s largest partners in the entertainment and media space.

Liz: What excited you about the opportunity at Stack?

Ben: In looking towards my next role, I focused on high-growth start-ups in the LA area that aligned with my goals on several fronts — industry, culture, and leadership opportunities being paramount. The more I got to know the StackCommerce team, the more it became clear there was a true synergy on both sides. At Stack, I am able to leverage my experience with publishers but in a novel way: helping partners navigate the emerging sphere of native commerce. I have the opportunity to lead a fantastic team, and absolutely love the open, team-oriented, and dynamic culture.  

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Liz: What are some of your top priorities as our VP of Publisher and Business Development? What type of impact do you hope to make?

Ben: It has been great to dive in, learn the ins and outs of the StackCommerce model, and build a strategic plan for 2017.  Native commerce powered by Stack has become such an important part of our core partners’ businesses that I am focusing on building out our newer verticals such as Women’s Lifestyle and News — with the goal of having a tailored storefront offering for publishers of all shapes and sizes. I am also ramping our PR efforts to ensure our media presence reflects the impact we have been able to drive in the marketplace. Overall, I am aiming to apply rigor and strategic focus to what we do in order to drive revenue growth across the organization.

Liz: What is your favorite thing about Stack so far?

Ben: I have been super impressed with the spirit of collaboration and high energy that permeates the culture here at Stack. There is a constant flow of ideas and nobody hesitates to share thoughts on how we can make the company more successful. As a new member of the team, I have a ton of ideas about where we might take the business and have been encouraged by the collective willingness to entertain new approaches and challenge existing assumptions. Plus, everyone is just plain fun to be around – and working right on Venice Beach doesn’t hurt!

Liz: At Stack, we stress the importance of work-life balance. What do you do to live a balanced life?

Ben: Balance is something I’m constantly trying to achieve across many aspects of my life, most notably between work and family. I have 3 amazing daughters that throw me immediately into “dad mode” once I walk through the door each evening. Being able to toss work aside and focus on my family is something I value immensely. To that end, I try to separate from electronics until after the kids are asleep and avoid distractions as much as possible.
One thing I do for fun, exercise, and general sanity is play basketball. I’ve organized a twice-a-week game with a group of friends for the past 10+ years, which accounts for nearly 100% of my cardio and keeps the competitive juices flowing in a (mostly) friendly environment.

Minecraft’s Unhappy Billionaire: The Pitfalls of a Singular Financial Focus

Minecraft’s Unhappy Billionaire: The Pitfalls of a Singular Financial Focus

The old cliché hasn’t lost its potency: Money doesn’t buy happiness. But what is the end game for entrepreneurs and startups if unlimited funds and open-ended positioning in life isn’t the fulfilling dream we’re hardwired to believe it is? That’s the dilemma facing Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, since he sold Mojang to Microsoft for a massive $2.5 billion nearly a year ago.

Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Persson lamented the void of struggle and reward in the eyes of wealth, finding social experience impossible due to imbalance. Hanging out in Ibiza, rubbing elbows with celebrities, able to do anything he can imagine, but the feeling has left a void inside.


Persson’s sense of personal value, tied in part to the social constructs among the staff of Mojang, has gone haywire. The Mojang crew “all hate me now,” he insists, though one Mojang employee responded that he only hated Persson during the initial shock of him leaving. However, Persson aggressively rejects the notion, saying  “nobody reached out and said it was just initial shock. So fuck all of you. Fuck you so hard.” Needless to say, there’s a deep-cut sensitivity to the situation that defies gentle hindsight. The sudden burst of wealth is reportedly romantically isolating as well.

However, as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer illustrates in action, success and a traditional sense of happiness can walk hand in hand. She’s running one of the world’s most highly recognized tech companies with a family at home and twins on the way. Balance is key, she stresses.

“Moving forward, there will be a lot to do for both my family and for Yahoo,” Mayer wrote in her Tumblr page announcement. “Both will require hard work and thoughtful prioritization. However, I’m extremely energized by and dedicated to both my family and Yahoo and will do all that is necessary and more to help both thrive. The future looks extremely bright on both fronts.”

Though Persson’s pessimism seemed to take a turn at the end of his Twitter streak – noting that others in his position have told him such feelings are normal and will pass – his predicament is hardly unique among the ultra-wealthy and celebrity elite. When you work yourself to the bone and your efforts finally pay off, sometimes beyond your wildest dreams, what new horizon will inspire passion and value?

The answer – and even the question itself – applies to nearly all of us more than one might imagine. Ambition drives innovation, industry, competition. But a sense of harmony among life’s core value points is essential to maintain longevity of contentment, fulfillment and well-being. To succeed in a competitive market, we will work ourselves into the ground and set goals beyond the rational. But if we sacrifice our creative trajectory – let alone our family and health – for single-minded financial gain, the very meaning of our existence will have been lost in the waves of professional peaks and valleys to which we assign our own value, even if the gamble pays off monetarily.

Though he’s wary of it now, Persson could do well to follow the example of Elon Musk, who turned the incredible payout from his stake in PayPal to eBay and used it to start businesses that are changing the trajectory of future tech. Musk launched Tesla Motors, which is developing an affordable electric car, and the Mars-bound SpaceX, which aims to make interplanetary travel accessible on a very real timeline.

Musk is using his billions to change the world. While Persson, Mayer and others are by no means obligated to follow in such altruistic footsteps, the importance of a course for betterment within and without cannot be overstated. It’s not enough to get a grip on that elusive brass ring – the key is to use it as a stirrup to reach far more meaningful ground.

Amazon and the ‘Company Culture’ Controversy: Why it Matters to Startups

Amazon and the ‘Company Culture’ Controversy: Why it Matters to Startups

Last week’s New York Times article about Amazon’s cutthroat company culture has sparked a wildfire of debate over just exactly what 2015’s biggest corporate buzz-term consists of. As the discussion expands to the impact of company culture on employees and the businesses they populate on the whole, renewed attention is being drawn to perhaps the most grueling and demanding professional climate of all: the startup world.

Amazon founder & CEO Jeff Bezos is the fifth-richest man in the world. His methodology in getting very most out of every employee, to ensure the velocity of his company’s success, has paid off: Amazon recently became the country’s largest retailer. Their reputation for hard-working employees precedes the NYT piece, but the article outlined the harsh intensity of Amazon’s operations in embarrassing detail: email attentiveness at all hours is required. Vacations are a myth, and weekends exist only as mile markers on the path to success – by no means a time to downshift. If you aren’t working all the time, you’re failing. Amazon’s ranking system regularly purges the low performers, but also factors in how well employees interact. Their employees are reportedly encouraged to send negative feedback about their peers to their bosses, a confidential exchange that pits staff members against one another and creates an air of paranoid hostility.

The list goes on. Amid the flurry of criticism, Bezos and others at Amazon have challenged the spin and professionalism of both the report and the NYT reporters. A Bezos memo to employees following the piece has made the rounds, clearly PR bait: the CEO said he wouldn’t tolerate a “callous” working environment, and doesn’t believe one exists at Amazon. In tandem, Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu published his own defense of his employer as well as a few shots at the NYT article, summarizing the NYT approach as a preconceived hit job against the company.

To Bezos and Ciubotariu’s credit, in a company with so many employees, it is statistically guaranteed that many heartwarming examples of fantastic company-culture experiences can be found within Amazon’s corporate narrative. But to find over 100 employees willing to share tales of woe is uncommon, particularly given that the sample group consists of members of the leadership team, human resources executives, marketers, retail specialists and engineers who worked on projects from the Kindle to grocery delivery to the recent mobile phone launch.

Similarly, startup culture is cutthroat, take-no-prisoners and absolutely hostile to the idea of shared priorities. As a rule, startups do not foster an environment conducive to healthy families, well-rounded childhoods or “quality” personal time. Free food, team games, onsite barbers and other benefits often exist in companies large and small to allow people a break without leaving the office, softening the impact of those grueling 60-to-80 hour work weeks.

Ideal company culture demands a balance between pushing employees to go above and beyond, and allowing a personal sense of worth and vitality within the corporate structure. A company set on long-term development and success requires leadership who can fully understand and pass along its corporate atmosphere and philosophy to other employees. To accomplish this they must be engaging, inspiring and above all, willing to work harder than anyone else.

With 150,000 people on staff, Amazon boasts an army of people mandated to devote their life to their work. Is total sacrifice of personal life on a company-wide scale the most desirable model for success? For those whose life priorities aren’t inextricably topped by fealty to a corporate success story in the making, absolutely not. So where is the middleground? How can a balance be struck while a company struggles to emerge as a leader in its field?

A frequently cited example of great company culture is Google. With an employee count nearing 50,000, it’s remarkable and refreshing to see workers describe operations as having a small-company feel, free of senior-officer intimidation. Company culture is determined by company morality, how it treats others, and there is a direct result in staff morale & motivation. Googlers can be found volunteering directly in company efforts to give back to the community, and lead initiatives around the world with financial aid, restoring public parks and  beyond.

At StackCommerce, we’re striving each day to sharpen the balance between driving success and enriching staff. There’s rarely an amenity unprovided, with the office boasting a stocked kitchen, surfboards and bikes at the ready (the Venice Beach boardwalk is just outside our door), a ping pong table and entertainment lounge in the basement (hell, even a basement in Southern California is a unicorn perk). But these are mere decorative boosts, a handful of bright colors on the tapestry of a company culture that encourages personal wellness through yoga breaks and volleyball games, through enlightening guest speakers and regular happy hour gatherings. Robust benefits, sign-on stock options and encouraged use of personal days provide employees with a sense of security and control over their personal lives – an extreme rarity in startup culture.

Sure, we work our behinds off, often arriving long before the workday begins and leaving long after rush hour has subsided. But those of us making the early-morning rounds are often greeted by wetsuit-clad employees greeting the day with enthusiasm; they want to be here early. They’re invested in a company that’s equally invested in them.

The link between employee happiness and productivity has been documented at great length. Companies cannot thrive on a singular character model of A-type workhorses giving their every waking moment to their employer, with reckless abandon of personal stability. Diversification is essential, creating constellations of different skill sets and different opinions to stay innovative and to continually thrive. Personal and professional values are essential, but this does not mean absolute sacrifice at all times. Company culture must align with personal stability, particularly in the startup world.

Entrepreneur.com‘s Eric Sinou put together a great infographic on the impact of company culture, as well as the perils of being on the wrong side of a corporate atmosphere:

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