@WalmartLabs, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, has acquired the Small Society team. We will continue to build great mobile apps, but now we will focus all of our attention on a single company – the largest one in the world. Our baker’s dozen team will be joining the existing @WalmartLabs team of five in Portland (and hundreds more located in the Bay Area), committed to growth and job creation here in the city we love. We’re not going anywhere. Portland is recognized as a leader in mobile, with contributions from individuals, startups, and large companies, too.
Walmart has made a number of targeted acquisitions in the last few months to fuel their innovation engine including Kosmix, OneRiot and Grabble, to advance work in social and mobile e-commerce. The team from Small Society now joins that list as part of @WalmartLabs, where we intend to innovate at the intersection of the mobile and retail experience. Already we are seeing the fruits of these acquisitions – recent launches from Walmart such as Shopycat on Facebook and their new iPad app. This is just the beginning.
When Small Society was founded three years ago, one of the key areas we wanted to focus on was re-imagining the retail experience. Mobile technology can play a profound role in changing how people interact with their physical environments and we are still very much in the early stages of this exploration. As an outside consulting agency, there’s only so much impact you can have, and rarely do you get the chance to work with a client over an extended period of time, iterating and responding to customer feedback and interest.
Walmart provides our team with the biggest canvas as the world’s largest company and the world’s largest employer. There are over 9,700 Walmart retail units under 69 different banners in 28 countries generating $419 billion in revenue annually. Walmart serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week . More and more of these customers have smartphones.
We are thoroughly impressed by the caliber of the team we will be joining. Gibu Thomas and Paul Cousineau at the helm of Walmart’s mobile efforts, both with a strong mobile background at Palm, along with Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer, who came over with the Set Direction acquisition earlier this year. We also will be reuniting with Small Society alumni – Brandon Sneed, Sam Grover, and Steve Riggins. The size of the opportunity coupled with the caliber of the talent already assembled made this an easy decision for us.
Small Society has been a three-year adventure, working with some of the world’s greatest brands and companies, with great team members, some of who are no longer with us (special thanks to Jonathan Wight and Andrew Pouliot, who started this adventure with us). I can still remember October 2nd, 2008, like it was yesterday – launching the official Obama ’08 app for iPhone, receiving an encouraging phone call from Steve Jobs, talking to the press all over the world about our new app, with a vision of the future building great apps for great brands with a great team. That vision became even more clear a few months later when James Keller joined from Wieden + Kennedy to head up User Experience and Heather Penner joined from OHSU to manage Operations and we became a mobile agency called Small Society. We accomplished the goals we set out and are excited about our next chapter together.
Our opportunity as a team to impact the retail experience using mobile technology is huge. It honestly can’t get any bigger than Walmart.