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Button Raises $12 Million to Make the App World as Interconnected as the Web

Button hopes that as more people buy stuff on phones, apps will be able to tap new audiences through direct links with other apps.

Ina Fried

Could 2015 be the year of “deep linking?”

One startup trying to ride that wave is Button, a New York City-based company which is today announcing a $12 million Series A investment less than a year after its launch. Redpoint Ventures is leading the round and partner Chris Moore is joining Button’s board of directors.

Deep linking is a technology that allows apps to talk to each other so that users can tap from inside one app to access a specific point inside another app as if they were clicking a link on a web page. Button’s thesis is that as more people buy stuff or order stuff on mobile phones, the stage will be set for apps to build bigger businesses by tapping into new audiences through direct links with other apps. Think of it as an affiliate network for the app world.

In practice, this means deals like one Button recently landed with Uber. The partnership allows Button to integrate some Uber features inside of other apps on the Button platform. For example, people who use the new app Resy to make restaurant reservations can select the type of Uber they want and see the estimated fare inside Resy, thanks to Button’s tech. They are then sent to complete the purchase in Uber’s app.

Button’s goal is to sign up a bunch of apps that are category leaders: Uber for ride hailing, Resy for reservations, maybe a food delivery service or a home-cleaning service, and so on. Once it has those on board, it can pitch a wide array of apps on allowing their own users to essentially order or buy stuff from these partnering apps with the tap of a phone’s screen.

“Our thesis is: Don’t try to mash everything into your app,” CEO Mike Jaconi said. “Instead, let’s create a really intelligent connection to a service that’s already been optimized.”

The funding comes as a rash of competitors such as URX and Quixey are tackling similar problems. Facebook and Google also are looking to tackle deep-linking technology.

But Button hopes to carve out its own space in a few ways. It wants to place app advertisements — or “buttons” — inside partner apps and target them to users based on their browsing habits or the context of what they are currently reading or doing.

“We want to take the intent that is manifested in one app and match that to the fulfillment of that intent in another app,” Jaconi said.

Button is also building tools for app makers to easily offer rewards points and discounts to their users and have them automatically redeemed upon checkout.

The company previously raised a seed investment of $2.25 million led by Atlas Venture. Greycroft Partners has also participated.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.