SAN MATEO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A team of veterans from some of the biggest companies in banking, retail and e-commerce – including former eBay and Best Buy CMO Mike Linton, former Visa executive Jim Taschetta and ClairMail founder Joe Salesky – today announced at FinovateSpring 2011, the launch of FreeMonee, the first-of-its-kind national cash-gift network.
Led by CEO and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Gadi Maier, FreeMonee has raised $11 million in initial funding from Opus Capital Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures and Contrarian Group, the fund directed by Peter Ueberroth. Ueberroth also serves on FreeMonee’s Board of Directors with former Levi Strauss CEO Phil Marineau.
What is FreeMonee?
FreeMonee enables merchants to give “gifts” directly to individual credit and debit cardholders through participating financial institutions. FreeMonee gifts are cash incentives that function like a gift card on an individual’s debit or credit card. With FreeMonee gifts, consumers can purchase anything they choose at the designated merchant -- no strings attached -- by simply using their debit or credit card.
FreeMonee is unique because it delivers high value gifts to the right consumers at scale. FreeMonee’s proprietary and patent-pending Adaptive Matching Technology (AMT) makes this possible. The AMT analyzes the transaction data of hundreds of millions of debit and credit card holders – while protecting privacy – and precisely matches merchant gifts with profitable consumer prospects that are likely to redeem based on previous purchasing patterns and predictive analytics. The AMT system is optimized to maximize consumer satisfaction, merchant ROI and network profitability.
The financial institutions deliver the FreeMonee gift notifications to their customers via their normal communication channels. Banks receive a success fee for each gift redeemed, creating a significant, new consumer-friendly revenue stream to help replace lost income. FreeMonee gifts also provide banks the opportunity to strengthen consumer engagement and satisfaction.
“The last major banking innovation that truly benefited financial institutions, merchants and consumers alike was the credit card, introduced in the 1970s,” said Gadi Maier, CEO and President of FreeMonee. “FreeMonee, and the technology that powers it, is revolutionizing the bank-merchant-consumer dynamic, enabling each to benefit the other. Our AMT gives banks and retailers the ability to give customers exactly what they want – gifts they will use with no strings attached – while minimizing the risk that had previously made such powerful purchasing incentives impossible. Merchants get net, new profitable visits and banks receive a significant new source of consumer-friendly revenue.”
FreeMonee has agreements in place with two of the top six card issuers and is working closely with several others. The first program launch is expected in summer 2011.
“Banks have been waking up to the opportunity to leverage their transaction data to meet, on the one hand, privacy-conscious consumers’ appetite for highly relevant offers, and on the other hand, brands and retailers’ quest for spending their marketing dollars more effectively,” explains Gwenn Bézard, research director at Aite Group. “FreeMonee is squarely positioned to help banks compete for marketing dollars along with Google and Groupon. While not the first vendor to enter the merchant-funded incentives space, FreeMonee is bringing to market a very unique solution, differentiating, for instance, by its focus on true, no-catch, cash gifts. FreeMonee is breaking the ground for a new category of its own within the merchant funded incentives space.”
FreeMonee Management Team
FreeMonee’s leaders are veterans from the retail, banking and e-commerce industries, with decades of experience leading some of the world’s most successful companies.
- Gadi Maier, CEO and President – A seasoned high-tech executive and entrepreneur, Gadi founded Oracle Japan and served as General Manager for Cisco’s Internet Business Unit. As a CEO, Gadi has led two IPOs and is seven-for-seven in startups, with more than $3 billion in exits, including GetThere, Currenex, Fraud Sciences, Memco and Finjan.
- Andy Laursen, Vice President of Development – Andy is former VP development at Oracle, where he was one of the early kernel architects. Most recently, he founded and was VP of product development at Scalent and was the VP of development at Phone.com.
- Mike Linton, Executive Vice President of Marketing – Mike has been in marketing and general management for 30 years. Previously, he served as the CMO of eBay and led Best Buy as CMO during their high growth period from 1999-2006.
- Joe Salesky, Chief Strategy Officer – With 25 years of executive leadership, providing business solutions to the Fortune 100, Joe was most recently Founder and CEO of ClairMail. He also served as CTO of AppStream/Symantec, Founder and CEO of PictureTalk/Pixion, Founder and CEO of Skytron and held senior positions at Oracle.
- Jim Taschetta, Chief Marketing Officer – With 25 years of experience across a combination of blue-chip companies and start-ups, Jim was most recently CMO of Bare Escentuals. Prior to his role as SVP of Brand at Visa, Jim served as CMO for Yodlee and Blurb and held various senior positions at Coca-Cola and P&G.
- Mark Uicker, Vice President of Business Development – Mark brings over 25 years of leadership and sales experience to his role. Previously Mark was the Co-Founder and VP Sales at ClairMail. He also served as VP of Sales and Business Development for Commtouch, Inc., Elron Software/McAfee and for Inso Corp/Oracle.
- Ayelet Zadok, Vice President of Network Services – Ayelet brings more than 20 years of experience and leadership as an entrepreneur and technology executive. Ayelet was a Co-Founder and Vice President of Product Services at ClairMail and led the deployment of its flagship products at top financial institutions. Previously, Ayelet held executive positions at AppStream/Symantec, Mobile Economy and Adapt Technologies.
FreeMonee is the world’s first national gift network – we connect millions of credit and debit cardholders from the world’s largest financial institutions with national and local merchants. The merchants offer FreeMonee gifts – cash incentives – to individual cardholders through their financial institutions. FreeMonee gifts function like a gift card on an individual’s debit or credit card, allowing consumers to purchase anything they want with the designated merchant, with no strings attached. FreeMonee anonymously matches consumers to the gifts using their proprietary Adaptive Matching Technology that analyzes card transaction data to identify the highest value consumers for merchants. FreeMonee’s AMT engine lives within the firewall of the financial institution, which means neither FreeMonee nor the merchants ever have access to a cardholder’s personal information. Consumer privacy is maintained at all times.
For more information or photos, please contact Jennifer De Laura at Allison & Partners for FreeMonee Technologies at FreeMonee@allisonpr.com.