Jaron Waldman is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rakuten Ready. In 2009, Apple acquired Jaron’s company Placebase. During his time at Apple, Jaron led the Geo team which built location-based services deployed on hundreds of millions of Apple devices globally. After leaving Apple, Jaron started another company called Curbside which was acquired by Rakuten in 2018 and became Rakuten Ready in 2019.
How is Rakuten Ready benefitting from the rapid growth of Order for Pickup?
We’re in the business of helping great merchants make their order ahead experiences better. With all the growth that’s going on, we’re seeing all kinds of experimentation. You also have technologists and operations folks breaking new ground in connecting stores to mobile commerce. It’s an exciting time.
What are the biggest industry trends heading into 2020?
Technology is helping people do more in less time. People are just getting busier, so solutions that help people get in and out to get things done quickly, without lots of time spent and constant attention, are the experiences that are compelling. We’re about to enter a new decade where we will see a reversal of the trend, over the last 10 years, where tech companies have waged war to engage consumer attention and lock it into their platforms. We’ve all started to understand some of the negative side-effects of this. So I’d say that technology that offers consumers convenience and time back will grow in importance and be really compelling into the 2020’s.
Please share a little about what is next for Rakuten Ready?
We’re going to have some really compelling ways that we can help our retail partners tap into big, mobile-savvy audiences. Stay tuned.
What has it meant to join the Rakuten family?
We have felt really welcomed by a group of like-minded individuals who are working together on building a business around empowering shoppers and merchants.
What sets Rakuten Ready ARRIVE apart from the competition?
To this day it makes me really happy that there’s no true competition to ARRIVE. ARRIVE helps businesses predict when their customers are arriving, which is a unique capability in the market, factoring millions and millions of trips into our machine-learned models. Other players are selling proximity tracking without the predictive element that we bring. And even on that basis, they are trying to use beacons (which are a huge pain for merchants to deploy and maintain) or other solutions like Geofencing. However, we know from our days working on Apple location technology that proximity frameworks don’t work for getting reliable local information.
What was your favorite book in 2019?
I just finished reading Catch and Kill. At the same time, it’s an incredible true story that’s really hard to put down, it’s also a book that is eye-opening in terms of how power functions to determine which stories get told and which do not. I highly recommend it.