Acceleration 2017: 18 Mobile App Brands Share Key Insights

Written by: on June 8, 2017

Acceleration 2017

A few weeks ago, I attended Acceleration in New York for the second year in a row. Acceleration, presented by mParticle, is a relatively young event that brings together commercial app leaders. The event has quickly become a must-attend event because of its structure, the panels, and the apps represented. This year’s attendance was significantly larger than last year’s.  

To summarize Acceleration, below are 18 industry leading apps that participated in panels and the highlights I took away from each of their presentations.

    1.  Breather (Paul Jeszenszky, CMO): I had not heard of Breather before Acceleration; they hope to change the way people think about space in urban areas by allowing people to book space for a few hours at a time. Next time I’m traveling to a city where Breather has a presence, I plan to give the service a try in between meetings.


    1. Starbucks (Josh Williams, Technical Product Manager): This app has become a staple on my home screen. The app started with gift cards and QR codes and has evolved into a best-in-class brand loyalty and mobile commerce app. Starbucks reported that 29% of transactions flow through the app and the star loyalty program is very effective. Order ahead, pickup, and enjoy.


    1. Postmates (Tanner McGrath, Lead Product Manager for Growth Engineering): I knew Postmates delivered food but I was unaware that the app offered merchants beyond restaurants. Their vision “to unlock inventory in cities: merchants, delivery of goods, and customers” is a good one and they continue to work hard “to enable customers to form new habits, like sending care packages instead of text messages.”


    1. Tinder (Jeff Morris Jr., Director of Revenue Product Management): My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last year so I’m not a Tinder user, but I still find it fascinating that Tinder collects massive amounts of “swipes” per day and uses the data to match people together with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).


    1. Weight Watchers (Gerald Brun, Director of Product, Growth & Onboarding):  My wife and I became lifetime members of Weight Watchers (WW) 15 years ago. Great to hear that WW’s customer experience has evolved from slide calculators and note pads into a complete digital experience. The app encourages customers to scan product bar codes for everything they eat in a day. Someday, Weight Watchers will even allow users to announce the food they ate into the app to calculate points.


    1. The Wall Street Journal (Greg Emerson, Mobile Product Manager): I know I am part of a dying breed, but I still enjoy reading a paper copy of the WSJ each morning. When I travel, I rely on the WSJ app which reported that over 50% of subscribers now use the app. WSJ’s direction is “to step forward, from the app, to the lock screen, to tell stories.” Looking forward to this evolution on mobile.


    1. Pinterest (John Egan, Engineering Manager): I’m hearing of more brands focusing on iOS, Android, and desktop/web and scaling back on mobile/web. Pinterest is a brand that still remains in the mobile/web category. To provide recommendations to hundreds of thousands of customers, Pinterest leverages their data, applies ML and AI, and sends personalized recommendation emails to customers with deep links into their app.


    1. SoundCloud (Sridharan Ravichandran, Sr. Product Manager, Growth & Integrations): SoundCloud really understands their customers – creators prefer desktop and listeners prefer mobile. This understanding guides the app roadmap and business model.


    1. Slack (Jules Walter, Product Manager on Growth Team): I enjoyed learning about Slack’s early focus and wrote down some great quotes from Jules. Slack set out to “create tools for human beings,” “listen to developers,” and “not develop enterprise software.” Slack wanted to “build a platform” and realized “the importance of messaging, tools, and easy integrations.”


    1. Huff Post (Julia Beizer, Head of Product): The Huffington Post recently rebranded itself as Huff Post which incorporated all aspects of their business including mobile. When breaking news happens, some people will receive five push notifications from five different brands so Huff Post cares about the language they use to tell the story in their voice.


    1. Harry’s (David Bakey, VP of Growth Marketing): I’ve been a Harry’s customer for well over a year. Pleased to hear they are spending time and effort to position the brand against Dollar Shave Club and Gillette and will leverage their differentiation on mobile.


    1. SeatGeek (Shoji Ueki, Sr. Director, Growth Marketing): Mobile continues to have a profound impact on how people buy tickets, when they buy tickets, and how they sell (or transfer) tickets to other people. SeatGeek reported that 25% of tickets are now purchased the day of an event compared to 5% 10 years ago.


    1. Fidelity (Dave Favicchio, Sr. Product Manager for Mobile):  Fidelity is on my home screen so I was excited to see them on a panel. For Fidelity, it’s all about personalization because of their enormous customer base. Personalization is critical because they provide lots of different services to a diverse (active and passive investors) customer base. Fidelity differentiates themselves by taking advantage of unique features provided by mobile hardware and mobile operating systems.


    1. Venmo (Joel Witten, Head of Data Engineering & Analytics): Venmo is a social payment app that allows people to pay, split, and then share their experience. In today’s world people expect payments to be immediate, however many original banks have 60-year old legacy code and payments take 3 days to clear.


    1. Stock Twits (Justin Paterno, COO): I learned about Stock Twits at Acceleration and plan to sign up soon. I still have images of stock brokers and day traders at desktops with multiple screens to monitor all aspects of the market. But that era was pre-mobile and pre-social networks so I was excited to hear that Stock Twits has approached these professionals from a mobile & social perspective.


    1. Jet (Lauren Picasso, Director of Marketing): Jet has invested substantially in user behavior research to better understand the differences between mobile/web and mobile/app. Jet discovered that mobile/web is synonymous with Google Search – research driven, based on reviews, little to no retailer loyalty, and people just pass through their web page. Mobile/web has a few heavy categories such as electronics and TVs. For Mobile/app, Jet’s research found that customers stock up on essentials (i.e. pet products) and that there is retailer loyalty, so they try to drive customers to mobile/app.


    1. Etsy (Stephanie Chang, Director of Performance Marketing): Etsy’s most loyal core customer uses the mobile/app because sign-in is automatic and the experience is better than mobile/web. People who use mobile/web only browse, don’t sign-in, are exploratory only, and are completely disconnected from Etsy’s customer journey.


  1. Boxed (Jackson Jeyanayagam, CMO): Boxed shared when shoppers bulk up, it’s typically a multi-day experience. They start on the mobile/app by picking some items and then continue on desktop/web the next day. They finish up on mobile/app or desktop/web a few days later.

In summary, Acceleration is a great event with many influential commercial apps represented and I’ll be back again next year.

If you are curious how to improve the customer experience of your mobile app, capture the right customer data, or leverage the data you already have, please email us at

David Salyers

David Salyers

As Business Development Director, David is responsible for leading new business development at POSSIBLE Mobile. With over 20 years industry experience, David has worked with clients including Accenture, Hasbro, Rodale,, and US Figure Skating. David's approach is embedded in the strategic and creative process, ensuring work we do serves our clients and builds brands over time.

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