Acxiom inks another partnership with East Coast startup, firm tied to former company exec

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 256 views 

Acxiom Corp. has announced another strategic partnership with an East Coast startup that was once led by a company disciple who left the Little Rock data marketer in early 2015.

Acxiom said Tuesday (Jan. 17) it entered into the alliance with New York City-based Verve Mobile to further empower both data marketing firms’ efforts to reach mobile consumers with greater levels of precision and accuracy through multiple mobile and digital channels – all to the benefit of brands and advertisers.

“We are pleased to deepen our relationship with Verve, an organization that shares our approach to maintaining the highest levels of data precision and accuracy,” said Anne Doherty, senior vice president of Acxiom’s Audience Solutions division. “This partnership underscores our commitment to provide our clients with an ever-expanding network of partners through which they can activate first- and third-party data and extrapolate powerful insights. By leveraging two best-in-class partners, Acxiom and Verve clients will be able to build more robust mobile strategies that delight consumers and drive business outcomes.”

This level of partnership is one of only three such integrations at Acxiom, company officials said. Verve will be added to Acxiom’s publisher partner ecosystem, allowing Acxiom clients to integrate Verve’s proprietary location intelligence and premium app publisher network into campaigns. On the other hand, Verve clients will be able to make location-mobile media investments through Acxiom’s AbiliTec identity resolution technology, which helps data marketing customers better identify consumers’ identity over time by unifying online and offline data from varied sources.

“We are thrilled to work with Acxiom on a deeper level and access their world-class data to help our clients execute mobile campaigns based on location intelligence and imaginative creative experiences,” said Tom Kenney, president and CEO at Verve. “This partnership will elevate advertisers’ location-powered mobile strategies, amplifying their ability to drive sales by reaching mobile consumers in innovative new ways.”

In April 2015, former Acxiom Chief Revenue Officer Nada Stirratt left Little Rock to take over as Verve’s chief executive after the New York City mobile marketing firm raised more than $36 million in venture capital to ramp up the startup’s aggressive growth plans.

But Stirratt didn’t stay long as Verve’s CEO, lasting only 18 months before the company’s surprise announcement in November. Company officials said she left her position after leading it through a period of “rapid domestic growth, strategic acquisitions and international development.”

“Nada guided Verve through an exciting period of expansion and established a strong foundation for the next phase of growth,” said Jonathan Ebinger, general partner of early state venture capital firm BlueRun Ventures and a member of the Verve board of directors. “The board sincerely appreciates her leadership and wishes Nada the very best in her next chapter of her career.”

Upon Stirratt’s resignation, Verve handed the role of CEO and president over to Kenney, Verve’s original founder and the company’s president and chief innovation officer since 2015. Headquartered in New York City with offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia, Verve is expected to transition from startup to a profitable mobile marketing firm with revenue surpassing $100 million in fiscal 2016.

Stirratt’s departure from Acxiom was one in a growing list of millennial executives who exited the Little Rock tech firm for similar or better jobs on the East Coast or Silicon Valley after short stints in Central Arkansas.

Still, Acxiom has recently been able to bulk up its executive bench with the Nov. 17 acquisition of New York City-based Arbor and Philadelphia-founded Circulate in a $190 million stock-and-cash deal that included a $20 million carrot to entice key executives and employees to remain with the Arkansas company.

And just last week (Jan. 9), Acxiom said it was hiring three former Merkle executives, Marc Fanelli, Chandos Quill and Karen Caulfield, to take on new roles in the company’s Audience Solutions division, based in Redwood City, Calif. In April 2015, the same time that Stirratt left the company, Acxiom hired former Experian executive Rick Erwin as president and CEO of the company’s Silicon Valley office, where Acxiom has consolidated operations and shifted its focus toward “people-based” data marketing and analytics services.

Acxiom also completed the sale of its Impact email marketing business in September to Zeta Interactive, including the addition of the division’s top executive and nearly 300 employees. At the time of the deal, neither company disclosed terms of the deal, but TechCrunch reported that the deal was more than $50 million. Recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, however, show the Acxiom group was sold for only $22 million.

In 2015, Acxiom sold its IT outsourcing business to Charlesbank Capital Partners and M/C Partners for $190 million. Many of Acxiom’s former IT employees worked in the company’s downtown 12-story, curved office tower in Little Rock’s River Market district, which the company put on the block for a possible sale in June.

Although Acxiom has shifted major parts of its operations to Silicon Valley, company officials have been mum on an exact count of its West Coast workforce compared to its offices in Little Rock and Conway. Following the Zeta deal last year, Acxiom spokeswoman Sherry Hamilton said the company employs “thousands of associates in central Arkansas.”

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