Branding Brand nabs GNC’s e-commerce chief

The mobile platform provider has named Jeffrey Hennion president and secured $7.5 million in funding.

Bill Siwicki

Branding Brand, a mobile commerce platform provider used by numerous retailers in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, including American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (No. 118), Costco (No. 22), Crate & Barrel (No. 168), General Nutrition Centers Inc. (No. 73), Ralph Lauren Media LLC (No. 112) and Sephora USA Inc. (No. 106), has named Jeffrey R. Hennion president. Hennion previously served as executive vice president, chief marketing officer and head of e-commerce at General Nutrition Centers.

“Jeff’s client-side perspective, combined with his seasoned management experience, makes him uniquely qualified to help lead our business,” says Chris Mason, co-founder and CEO of Branding Brand. “We are committed to shaping the future of commerce across multiple formats, including mobile and in-store, and are excited to have him on our team.”

Hennion joins Branding Brand at a time of rapid growth: The company started 2010 with one mobile commerce site in its client portfolio and now is the platform behind more than 100, Branding Brand reports.

Prior to GNC, Hennion spent 10 years at Dick’s Sporting Goods in a variety of positions, including executive vice president and chief marketing officer responsible for marketing and e-commerce. Hennion also spent 11 years at aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., holding corporate finance and treasury posts in the U.S. and Europe.

“I am thrilled to be joining the dynamic team at Branding Brand, as mobile commerce in all its forms is being adopted at an incredible rate by consumers,” says Hennion. “It is a unique time given the pace of innovation in mobile commerce and cross-channel integration.”

Branding Brand also has announced that it has secured $7.5 million in Series A funding led by private equity and venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners, with CrunchFund and Eastern Advisors also participating. The round marks Branding Brand’s first outside investment. Insight Venture Partners focuses on the global software, Internet and data services industries. Founded in 1995, Insight has raised more than $5 billion and made more than 150 investments, it reports.

Branding Brand will use the investment to acquire more clients, further develop its technology and expand operations, Mason says.

“Scaling customer acquisition is about getting in front of more prospects, and this capital allows us to do that,” Mason says. “To date, the majority of our growth has been through referrals from satisfied existing clients.”

Mason tells Internet Retailer that new technology development will in part focus on how mobile technology can be used in physical stores. Branding Brand, for example, last month integrated Apple Inc.’s Passbook digital wallet into its platform; now customers of cosmetics retailer Sephora can store their Sephora loyalty cards in Passbook and use Passbook on their Apple devices in-store instead of plastic cards when making purchases or redeeming coupons.

“It’s all about expanding our toolset to keep up with the changing dynamics of mobile commerce and the latest innovations of smartphones and tablets. Passbook is just one example of a new market-defining capability,” Mason says.

Founded in 2008 by three friends from Carnegie Mellon University, Branding Brand launched a mobile platform at the end of 2009. It is now the top m-commerce provider to merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 and has grown from 10 to more than 100 employees in the last two years.

"In 2013, many of our clients will see more Internet traffic coming from mobile devices than desktop computers,” Mason says. "There is unprecedented opportunity in front of us, and we're ready to take things to the next level.”


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