John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

PayPal Picks Up Iron Pearl

acquisitions_phagPayPal closed its second acquisition of the year today, announcing the purchase of Iron Pearl, a customer acquisition and retention startup founded by “growth hackers” Stan Chudnovsky and James Currier. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Iron Pearl’s promise: Sustained viral growth and longer-term customer retention via a suite of optimization tools through which to monitor user engagement and product stickiness. Typically, such services are brought to bear on startups looking to steepen their growth curves. PayPal has 123 million active registered accounts across 190 markets. Clearly, it’s got massive user engagement. But there’s always room for improvement, right? New growth channels to be uncovered and exploited? And that’s the rationale behind PayPal’s acquisition of Iron Pearl.

The online payment service is creating a new “Growth” team around Iron Pearl, tapping Chudnovsky as vice president of growth and Currier as a “Growth Advisor,” and has charged the pair with further broadening PayPal usage. Some five million people joined the service in the last quarter of 2012, so its growth curve remains fairly steep. What can Iron Pearl reasonably do to improve it?

Quite a bit, says PayPal president David Marcus, who argues that because of its size the company can experience even more impactful growth.

“We’re starting at 123 million users,” Marcus told AllThingsD. “The sky is the limit when you’re working with numbers like that. We’re thrilled to create the new Growth group here, and we’re very excited to have Stan join our team and work his magic on PayPal.”

Below, Marcus’s post announcing the deal.

PayPal Acquires Iron Pearl, Names Stan Chudnovsky New VP of Growth

At PayPal, we’re seeing rapid and exciting growth. More than 5 million people joined PayPal in the last three months of 2012—the most in a quarter in over 8 years. We now serve more than 123 million active PayPal customers around the world.

But we can do more. And grow faster. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that we just acquired Iron Pearl, a Palo Alto startup that is at the forefront of the science of customer acquisition and engagement. Iron Pearl has developed groundbreaking tools, methodologies and intellectual property, built on a new understanding of the social and cultural factors that drive the viral spread of products, combined with new approaches to data analysis and predictive modeling.

Iron Pearl was founded by Stan Chudnovsky and James Currier. Effective immediately, Stan is assuming the role of Vice President of Growth and James will serve as a Growth Advisor to the company.

Stan is a visionary in the emerging science of growth and he has a remarkable track record of success as an entrepreneur. James and Stan started and ran Tickle, one of the first social media companies and an early explorer of the possibilities of online viral marketing. After Tickle was acquired by Monster in 2004 for more than $100 million, they founded Wonderhill, a developer offamily-friendly social online games that was acquired by Kabam in 2011. Stan was also instrumental in designing growth for companies like GoodReads, Path, BranchOut and many others.

The new Growth team at PayPal will focus on growing our customer base and engaging existing customers more actively by leveraging data to develop innovative marketing approaches and product initiatives. There are only a handful of world-renowned “Growth Hackers” with amazing track records and Stan is one of them. He managed to create genuine and sustained viral growth and retention for his own startups, and has advised others to grow at a tremendous pace, leading to hundreds ofmillions of unique new users. We’re confident that applying this unique, and highly effective skill set to PayPal will lead to making our groundbreaking payments experiences even more ubiquitous for our merchants and consumers.

Here’s to our next 100 million customers!

David Marcus, President, PayPal

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