Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson, a longtime tech industry leader who previously led Juniper Networks and spent 16 years at Microsoft, is joining the board of Seattle startup Amperity.

Founded in 2016, Amperity has attracted brands such as Alaska Airlines, Patagonia, Kroger, and others that use the company’s software to fine-tune their targeted marketing campaigns by connecting disparate data sources about individual customer habits.

Starbucks was an early adopter of Amperity’s technology. Amperity CEO Kabir Shahani said Johnson joining the company’s board “felt like an obvious and very special fit” given his experience. It’s also a rare move from Johnson, who does not sit on other tech startup boards.

“You can’t possibly construct better context for someone to be helpful as we continue to scale Amperity,” Shahani said.

Johnson joined the Starbucks board in 2009. He became president and chief operating officer in 2015 and replaced longtime CEO Howard Schultz in 2017. He’s helped the Seattle coffee giant with various tech-related initiatives such as its “Deep Brew” AI program and a deal with restaurant tech company Brightloom, led by former Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman.

Johnson also spent five years as CEO of Juniper Networks and was a top leader at Microsoft, where he worked closely with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

The Starbucks chief was also part of the National Security Telecommunication Advisory Committee under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“The future of all consumer-facing businesses requires a deeper understanding of their customers, the ability to personalize customer experiences, and the agility to recognize and adapt to shifting customer behaviors and preferences,” Johnson said in a statement. “Digital customer relationships are the key, and Amperity is in a unique position to help businesses unlock this digital potential by unifying first-party customer data and then enabling the insight and personalization that elevates the customer experience and builds brand loyalty.”

Amperity raises $50M to take on Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and others with its customer data platform

Amperity’s platform ingests trillions of data points from a single customer — via emails, purchase history, mobile app usage, website traffic, physical store visits, etc. — and crunches that information with machine learning to give marketers a holistic understanding of a given user.

Shahani said he was concerned when the pandemic hit given that a majority of Amperity’s customers come from industries directly impacted by the crisis such as restaurants, travel, and hospitality.

But he said clients have actually stuck with Amperity and the company plans to continue scaling through the pandemic.

“In a highly disrupted environment, it’s important for a consumer business to ‘know your customer’ now more than ever,” said Shahani, who co-founded Amperity with Derek Slager. The entrepreneurs previously started Appature and sold the Seattle-based healthcare marketing company to IMS Health in 2013.

Amperity has 160 employees and expects to add another 120 people over the next year. It has raised $87 million to date, including a $50 million Series C round last year that was up for the Deal of the Year: Funding category at the GeekWire Awards.

Other Amperity board members include Concur co-founder and Accolade CEO Raj Singh; former Tableau sales executive Kelly Wright; and Madrona Venture Group Managing Director Matt McIlwain.

In November 2019, Amperity acquired Custora, a similar customer intelligence platform. Amperity faces competition from Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, and other giants offering customer data software.

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