Venture Capitalist's New Frontier: Where Cellphones Meet Retailing
Reid Hoffman, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who put money early into hot start-ups like Facebook Inc. and online gaming company Zynga Game Network Inc., now has his eye on the intersection of mobile phones and bricks-and-mortar retailing.
His latest bet as a partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners is on Shopkick Inc., one of a number of young firms hoping to turn cellphones into tools for spurring sales. Mr. Hoffman, who joined Greylock last November, is leading its $15 million investment in the company and taking a seat on its board on behalf of his firm.
Founded in June 2009, Shopkick is building applications for the iPhone and devices powered by Google Inc. (GOOG) software that will offer product information or coupons when users check into a store with their cellphones.
The company plans to launch the application this summer and has signed up a number of partners, including Best Buy Co. (BBY), Macy’s Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. Sonny Jandial, brand manager with P&G (PG), said the company is trying to learn how to take advantage of consumers’ obsession with their cellphones.