Michael Jaconi Of Button On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Revolutionize inventory management by leveraging AI algorithms to forecast demand accurately, thus minimizing stockouts and optimizing inventory levels. Additionally, this can help you implement dynamic pricing strategies to adjust prices based on competitor analysis, market trends, and customer behavior.

Digital transformation has become a crucial component for businesses striving to stay competitive and relevant in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. As technology continues to shape industries and redefine business models, companies must adapt and leverage digital tools and strategies to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. In this interview series, we aim to explore various aspects of digital transformation, including best practices, challenges, success stories, and expert insights. We are talking to thought leaders, industry experts, entrepreneurs, technology innovators, and executives who have firsthand experience in driving digital transformation initiatives within their organizations. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Jaconi.

Michael Jaconi is the Co-Founder and CEO of Button, the mobile commerce platform that optimizes traffic for the worldʼs leading publishers, retailers, and creators that depend on affiliate marketing. Button drives more than $1B in mobile commerce per month as the only solution built with AI that is engineered to help Button customers generate more revenue. Prior to Button, Jaconi and a team of entrepreneurs built a digital currency monetization startup that was acquired by Rakuten, and once there, Jaconi led Rakutenʼs $100M investment in Pinterest, helping bolster Rakutenʼs position as one of the most innovative and aggressive global internet companies.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I have been a lifelong entrepreneur, following in the footsteps of my father and my brother — starting my first business when I was under 16 years old. Before co-founding Button, I served as the CEO of a company that Rakuten acquired, and while there, I became an Executive Officer of Rakuten, the global internet company. My founding thesis with Button was that the internet was going to evolve from an “ads dominated medium” to one that was “fueled by commerce”. What’s cool is that I’m confident that statement is more real and closer to reality today than at any point in the Button journey.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

As an “incredible” sales guy once said to me, if I had to pick one — it would be “from these 5”…no in all seriousness, Lars Albright who was a rock for me through ups and downs who took on a role of mentor, advisor, sounding board, champion, and wrangler of seed money — I often say “without him, this wouldn’t have happened”. I also have to share that the Board has been incredible throughout. We have a storied group of people who have seen and done incredible things throughout their career, and when we faced unlikely odds of survival in 2020, they rallied, put their arms over my shoulders and helped us build a path towards success we didn’t think was possible in those dark days in March. For context, we had hired roughly 100 people in Q4, signed a 30,000 foot office space (as startups used to do), and saw revenue decline precipitously when the pandemic impacted our largest customers. Without the Board and mentorship from Lars and others, we wouldn’t have been able to build the business back to where it is today.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

We just announced general availability of Button for Publishers, which leverages Button’s AI powered commerce optimization in partnership with Buzzfeed, and there are more announcements coming out soon around that product. The Button suite of products for Retailers and Publishers is designed to help these companies make more money from their commerce traffic — whether that’s via affiliate platforms, creator platforms, or supporting publishers with linking into their largest retail partners. This product provides a massive increase in value for publishers seeking forward in powering commerce-based models through the increasing challenges in today’s digital landscape.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. Digital transformation can mean many things to many people, from your perspective, how do you define digital transformation in your industry?

I define digital transformation as the movement towards custom user experiences as individuals migrate to habitual mobile shopping. In industries like ecommerce and technology, it’s paramount for businesses to migrate with these users by implementing AI-powered tools to maximize efficiency, revenue, and provide a competitive advantage within their digital assets.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Businesses operating in ecommerce can experience immense benefits from this digital transformation. Retailers are likely to see this by adapting to user shopping behaviors, and predicting user intent, which results in more trust and customer loyalty. Moreover, Publishers who partner with Retailers can benefit from a digital transformation through seamless transitions from their platform, to the retailers, creating a smooth process from discovery to purchase. Finally, Creators have a huge opportunity to benefit from digital transformation. Now more than ever are there more tools for Creators to leverage to prioritize their top performing content, and accurately track commissions they deserve.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

Integrating digital transformation can be a complex process. Take deep-linking for example: what many people don’t understand is that deep-linking is incorporated into every transition from internet discovery to in-app or web shopping. The smallest detail can delay that transition, from browser version, cross-platform compatibility, or a link change/typo. Our solution is optimized to see these obstacles before they occur, and ensure seamless user experiences across different devices and platforms. We help businesses adapt to rapidly changing trends and effectively drive conversions.

Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”?

  • Implement AI-powered recommendation engines for personalized product suggestions based on user behavior, such as past purchases, and browsing patterns. This approach enhances customer satisfaction and drives sales by offering relevant recommendations.
  • Categorize customers according to their interests and preferences for targeted promotions and product recommendations, leading to increased engagement and conversion rates. This strategy also works to enhance your search functionality and ensure more relevant results that align with customer intent.
  • Customize product layouts, search results, and website banners based on each user’s profile, which creates a personalized shopping experience, encouraging exploration and boosting customer satisfaction.
  • Revolutionize inventory management by leveraging AI algorithms to forecast demand accurately, thus minimizing stockouts and optimizing inventory levels. Additionally, this can help you implement dynamic pricing strategies to adjust prices based on competitor analysis, market trends, and customer behavior.
  • Utilize AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants to provide instant, personalized customer support. These automated systems can handle inquiries, provide product recommendations, and resolve issues efficiently, improving the overall customer experience.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

A “culture of innovation” is not solely a product of employee development, but also reflects visionary leadership and a deep understanding of market needs. By recognizing the shortcomings of traditional advertising models, particularly in the realm of mobile commerce, Button has proactively sought solutions that benefit retailers, publishers, and creators alike. This approach has allowed us to pave the way for a win-win-win scenario, where all stakeholders thrive in a symbiotic ecosystem.

Our success in fostering a culture of innovation stems from our commitment to continuous improvement and our ability to identify and address challenges with agility and foresight. By nurturing an environment where creativity is encouraged, and solutions are driven by a deep understanding of market dynamics, we’ve positioned ourselves at the forefront of innovation in the digital marketing landscape.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Connect with me on LinkedIn and be sure to like and follow Button while you’re at it! Visit our website and contact us to start revolutionizing your ecommerce strategy and explore how our AI-powered optimization tool can drive revenue growth for your business!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.