‘We’re not weird anymore’: Giffgaff’s CMO-turned-CEO on giving the brand purpose- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

It’s been 18 months since Giffgaff’s chief marketing officer was propelled into the top job, a rare move in the dog-eat-dog world of British telecoms. In hindsight, Ash Schofield admits he may have underestimated how big a leap the change of desk would be. Now, after a challenging period, he is settled in and has revealed his ambitious plans for the brand.
Schofield has been at the decade-old Giffgaff brand for nearly eight years. He joined from Tesco Mobile in 2012 when it was a plucky upstart and housed just a handful of employees. Today, he runs a company of over 230 staff.
“Marketing had always had a very strong voice in the company so what would be different?” he recalls of his promotion. “As soon as I changed desk – everything was different.
“I had thought Giffgaff was a marketing business but as CEO I realised that actually I’m running a technology company. I was on a bit of a journey that first six months to find my place in that. How I describe it back to the team now is that what we’re running is a brand-led technology company.”
It’s a bit of a mouthful, but a fundamental idea that the entire group has had to get its head around over the past year. Schofield wants his cohort of data and technology experts to have the same appreciation for brand building that the marketing team do, and conversely for his marketers to approach everything with the fast pace, “test and learn” mindset that’s embedded within the technology side of the business.
“I want to make marketeers out of everybody. Everyone is working on the brand in some way, whether it be writing a line of code to deliver an experience, or working on creative, and it all impacts our members and potential future members. So, I want everyone to think with that kind of value creation mindset. That’s the mission,” says Schofield.
“Gone are the days when you rely on a marketing team and its agencies to come up with that big idea that you’re going to spend six months or a year building, and then place everything on that bet and cross your fingers that you win. We now embrace a lean UX methodology.”
Despite the business being five times the size from when he first walked through the doors, Schofield has been determined to maintain the start-up “habits” that would have been so easy to park at some point along the way. It’s critical to the way he sees the company working in the future as it continues to grow.
“When I joined, every Monday 40 people got together to talk about what had happened [in the past week] and what was going to happen. We still do that today,” he says of the weekly ritual which sees all staff congregate in its Uxbridge auditorium to update on business priorities.
“It’s really important to keep these things as you scale. Because you don’t want to lose that edge. I don’t want anyone to ever say ‘I don’t know why we do this – it’s just the way we’ve always done it’. You’ve got to challenge constantly what you do and how you do it.”
This mindset is what’s perhaps helped it through challenges in the past year that no new chief executive wants to face. Chief among them, a potentially brand-killing revelation that Giffgaff had been inadvertently overcharging 2.6 million customers for most of its existence. Ofcom fined it £1.4m for the error, though gave it credit for admitting the mistake.
Schofield was just a few months into his CEO tenure when he had to deal with the fallout.
“I knew that people would judge us on what happened next. We are all human and people do occasionally make mistakes. By the time we’d told Ofcom, we had already started paying everybody back, including people who had already left Giffgaff. We hired an agency to try and find them to give them the money back, even if it was like only a pound,” he recalls.
In that period it obsessively tracked the impact on the brand, but encouragingly it didn’t fall. In fact, Schofield claims that as a result of the swift action and comms strategy, it actually saw its steady Net Promoter Score of 68 go up a couple points.
“That’s how opinions are formed. You can’t get it right every time, all the time. And people will form their judgments based on what happens when maybe it didn’t go quite so smoothly,” he continues.
“I guess being from a marketing background, being used to managing comms it was an area that I could add something to. When you’re CEO, you’ve got to decide which kind you going to be. Are you going to be one that tells everyone what to do or are you going to the kind that liberates people? For me, it’s the latter. And where I can personally make myself helpful by guiding people through a situation based on my experience and they grow out of it as well.”

Troubles behind him, Schofield is now looking ahead and wants Giffgaff to establish its “purpose” over the coming year. Its 3 million strong customer base is broadening from the 18-25 male-skewing audience it first attracted with its cheap bundles and “freedom” positioning. And with that has come the opportunity to talk about more than just price and convenience.
A major focus is the idea of sustainability. He’s still working through what this means long-term for Giffgaff, but the relentless push for everyone to embrace a “test-and-learn” way of working means it’s been making small bets on a few projects to see how the concept lands with customers.
So far, it’s paying off.
At the beginning of 2019 it invested heavily in its refurbed phone division, which allows people to buy a second-hand phone whether they plan to use a Giffgaff sim-card or not. It quickly filmed a series of 300-idents for its sponsorship of ITV’s The Voice, all of which were shot on second-hand phones.
A few months later, on Black Friday, it launched a pop-up store – the first time the brand had gone offline – which it filled with second-hand items, including phones, and asked visitors to pledge to make more sustainable choices. 1,500 people participated in the experiential stunt and it highlighted just how “useful” the phone company could be in giving people an alternative to buying new from the big brands.
“It’s a massive shift,” Schofield says. “We’re building a category. The majority of sales are coming from refurbed phones. The success that we’ve had has given us an extra poke to look even deeper on whether there’s more we could be doing that’s a win-win for us, our customers and society.”
How this continues to play out over the coming year is still a bit of a mystery. Schofield says he doesn’t want to set marketing budgets or concrete plans for the year; doing so would limit its flexibility to launch something at the drop of a hat. He does, however, expect to spend more on events that get the brand off screens and allow people to interact with it in the real world.
“Giffgaff is much more mainstream. 10 years ago, it was a mobile network that didn’t have any shops and didn’t have a call centre and seemed a bit weird. We’re officially weird anymore,” he laughs.
This broadening appeal to more than just the teens and student demographic means it’s also opening the door to more commercial opportunities. In yet another experiment last year it allowed start-up energy company Bulb to effectively advertise to its customer base.
At the time, it was running a series with financial advice and was looking for ways to help people save money. The opportunity then came knocking for Bulb to promote its affordable green energy services on its platform.
“We’re a community-based platform that happens to focus on mobile, but we can sell anything our community wants,” Schofield explains, saying there are around 10,000 members of this online group that Giffgaff consults on everything from new bundles and app ideas to how its services are performing.
“It was an interesting experiment to work out whether people would listen if we we’ve started to talk about things other than mobile. They did. It’s exciting for us.”
Schofield and co are now mulling how they can “shine a light” on other brands to its customers though they stress it’s simply “territory to explore”.
He surmises: “The environment that we operate in feels like it’s changing. Both socially and technologically and that’s going to be really exciting.”

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Samsung apologizes for worrying Galaxy users with weird “1” notification – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? Are you one of the many millions of people who own a Galaxy smartphone? If so, you might have received a strange notification last night via Samsung’s Find My Mobile app—I did. The message simply showed a “1” with another “1” underneath it, which led to some users believing they’d been hacked. But Samsung has confirmed it was an accident.
Social media was flooded with messages from Samsung users confused by the notification. As the name suggests, the Find My Mobile app is used to locate a lost Samsung device. It can also unlock a phone or tablet, back up data to Samsung Cloud, delete data from a device, and block access to Samsung Pay.
It appears that any Samsung device with the Find My Mobile app installed was affected, from the recently announced Galaxy S20 and Z Flip to the company’s line of tablets. Tapping on the alert did nothing other than close it.
Samsung was quick to assure bewildered users that they had nothing to worry about. The firm tweeted that the notification was a message sent unintentionally during internal testing, and it did not affect devices. Samsung apologized for any inconvenience, adding that it would work to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.

Recently, a notification about “Find My Mobile 1” occurred on a limited number of Galaxy devices. This was sent unintentionally during an internal test and there is no effect on your device. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our customers. ^LF
— Samsung Help UK (@SamsungHelpUK) February 20, 2020

While the notification may have worried a few users and woke some up in the middle of the night, it never caused any issues with the affected devices. Samsung doubtlessly won’t be happy about the incident, though, especially as it’s currently trying to promote the Galaxy S20 and Z Flip and doesn’t want any distractions.
Image credit: Framesira via Shutterstock

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The weird things after closing a venture round, iPhone 11, AI ad errors, and Cloud Foundry – gpgmail


Annual Extra Crunch members get 100,000 Brex Rewards points upon credit card signup

We’re excited to announce an addition to the Extra Crunch community perks. Starting today, annual Extra Crunch members can get 100,000 Brex Rewards points after signing up for a Brex corporate credit card. This offer is worth about $1,000 in credit card points.

Brex’s corporate credit card is designed for startups, and Extra Crunch was built for the startup ecosystem. We understand that startups are trying to be as frugal as possible with spending, and we felt that the Brex corporate credit card was the perfect way to stretch those valuable dollars.

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All the weird stuff that happens to you after you close your round

There is nothing like the excitement of closing a venture round, but what happens immediately after the money hits the bank? Well, apparently, nothing really good: a deluge of scams, requests, appointments, and more from every professional service and fly-by-night operation imaginable.

Matt Rodak, the founder and CEO of FundThatFlip, compiled the emails and other messages he got after closing his $11 million Series A financing, offering us a peek inside the world of a post-close founder:


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An inside look at the startup behind Ashton Kutcher’s weird tweets – gpgmail


In 2017, Matthew Peltier walked barefoot into a pitch meeting with venture capitalists. Young, male, man bun intact, he certainly resembled the stereotypical successful entrepreneur, but it was his startup, an app designed to bring social media stars and their fans into conversation, that drew skepticism.

Shimmur, as it was called, ultimately succeeded in raising about $7 million from Greycroft, Arena Ventures, Luma Launch, Right Side Capital Management and Techstars, according to PitchBook, but the business never took off. That is until a pivot to direct messaging in 2018 attracted the support of Hollywood talent manager Guy Oseary and his Sound Ventures investment partner Ashton Kutcher, who jumped on board to relaunch Shimmur, now known as Community.

The Santa Monica-based company has raised nearly $35 million in the form of two convertible notes following a recapitalization that occurred alongside its rebranding earlier this year, gpgmail has learned. Investors, including the Sony Innovation Fund, have valued the text marketing platform at upwards of $200 million, sources tell gpgmail. A spokesperson for Community, however, said there is currently “no valuation attached to the company” because of the nature of the recap and convertible notes, and declined to comment further on fundraising activity.

Community has yet to complete a public launch and is in the process of onboarding both companies and celebrities. We’re told efforts to generate attention for the business will increase in the next couple of weeks.

Shimmur was initially conceived of in 2014 as a Reddit-style mobile application that encouraged users to join “Tribes,” or groups, where they could create and upload content about their favorite YouTube or Instagram stars. Social media accounts affiliated with Shimmur went dark in 2017, and in early 2018 the site began redirecting to Digits.Chat, a service currently in private beta assumedly linked to Community. Now in their second act, Peltier and Community co-founder Josh Rosenheck are committed to building a platform for influencers and fans to interact at scale.

Questions of Community’s business began to surface in January 2019, when Ashton Kutcher took to Twitter to subtly promote the service with a phone number and a simple request to text him. Naturally, many assumed the tweet included the actor and investor’s personal cell number. In reality, he’d been working with Community to develop a better method of communication with his followers. This week, the actor resurfaced on Twitter to promote the service again. This time stating that the phone number included in the tweet would be “the only place [he] responds to public queries” because the “open web has just become too toxic.”

This reporter, of course, followed up Kutcher on his offer and sent a text to his now preferred contact. Instantaneously, I received this reply: “Ashton here. This is an auto-text to let you know I got your message, the rest will be from me. Click the link so I can respond to you. I likely can’t respond to everything but I’ll try to be in touch. Dream bigger.” The message was accompanied by a link to a Community sign-up page for Kutcher-specific updates. The fine print read that the personal messages and automated text alerts from Kutcher “may be marketing in nature,” but little other information was provided.

While Kutcher has used his large Twitter following to spread awareness for Community, Guy Oseary has remained mum. Sources tell gpgmail, however, that Oseary is a “co-founder” of Community, further evidence he’s put money in the business and perhaps adopted a co-founder title because of the nature of his investment. Oseary is not only a co-founder of Sound Ventures alongside Kutcher, but he’s also a longtime executive at Maverick, an entertainment and music management business behind the likes of Madonna and U2. His network would be much more valuable to Community than VC dollars.

Sound Ventures, Kutcher and Oseary’s venture capital fund, did not respond to a request for comment. Community declined to name its investors, but did say Oseary is “not a co-founder,” declining to provide additional details on his affiliation with the business.

On its website, Community describes itself as a tool that enables its clients, e.g. influencers, musicians, athletes, brands, actors, their agents and others, to have direct and meaningful communication with their “community members” using a 10-digit phone number provided by Community: “Imagine getting to know and interact with your audience as individuals—with names and faces, interests and opinions, hometowns and pronouns. Imagine reaching every single one of them,” the company writes.

Peltier, in the company’s first blog post published in June, emphasized the power of text messaging, citing an Adobe statistic that 90% of text messages are read within three seconds. Peltier also described Community’s business model, noting that they are not an ads business, rather, clients pay Community monthly or annual service fees “for 100% audience reach and limitless segmentation, in a climate free from bullying and toxicity.” Community’s terms of service agreement additionally states that once a subscription is initiated, clients can create and send text marketing campaigns to promote themselves or products with members of their community.

If Community sounds familiar — it should. Its efforts to leverage SMS to facilitate celebrity-fan relationships is akin to SuperPhone. Founded by musician Ryan Leslie in 2015, SuperPhone is a mobile messaging platform designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, entertainers and anyone else that juggles clients or sales contacts.

“SuperPhone is the first foray into personal relationship management,” Leslie told gpgmail last year. The startup has raised a total of roughly $5 million at a $10 million valuation, according to PitchBook. In a blog post addressing Kutcher’s January tweet, Leslie welcomed the competition to the text marketing space.

“The game is changing, messaging is here to stay, and platforms are stepping up to help you leverage the power of this currently undervalued direct communication channel,” Leslie wrote. “This is my game. SuperPhone was conceived, developed, deployed, and battle-tested years before this week’s A-list endorsement of text over social.”

We reached out to SuperPhone for comment and in a very on-brand reply, a spokesperson for the business told me to submit my phone number to Leslie here and “unlike Ashton, Ry will text you right back once you introduce yourself.”

Commence the battle for text marketing dominance.





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