Who We Are

Learn about what makes us great

Merkle Loyalty Solutions was founded in 2010 by Silicon Valley marketing and technology experts with extensive experience in loyalty.

We Were Founded With The Goal

To disrupt the loyalty category with a cloud-based platform that delivers a flexible, iterative, and scalable loyalty solution, with faster deployment and lower costs.

Merkle Loyalty Solutions, formerly 500friends, is a leader in loyalty marketing solutions. Clients depend on us to help them develop and execute a differentiated and impactful customer loyalty strategy that delivers the business results they expect. Our team is based in San Francisco, CA with employees in numerous locations across the United States and in China. We are focused on one client-centric objective: providing personalized customer loyalty experiences seamlessly across multiple channels and devices, resulting in proven retention and maximized profitability of customer relationships.

As a full service loyalty provider, we are a trusted partner at every stage of the loyalty journey. Our services span across loyalty strategic consulting, platform integration and implementation, program management and support, and advanced analytics. Our years of expertise enable us to help our clients navigate the complexity of loyalty and ensure their success.

Our SaaS lifecycle marketing suite, LoyaltyPlus, makes it easy to execute omni-channel loyalty programs while incentivizing customer identification, creating a single view of all customer interactions across channels, and executing personalized customer retention campaigns. The result is an effective loyalty platform which has been praised by Forrester Research.

In 2014, 500friends was acquired by Merkle Inc., a leading technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing firm and the nation’s largest privately-held agency. This combination creates the industry’s most robust loyalty resource for our clients, based on the synergies of 500friends’ platform with Merkle’s industry-leading practices in data strategies, 1st & 3rd party data linkage, and predictive analytics. In 2017, 500friends became Merkle Loyalty Solutions. Read more about the acquisition here.

Our Leadership
Michael Hemsey
Michael Hemsey
PRESIDENT
Michael leads the product strategy, market expansion, loyalty systems, and operational delivery teams at Merkle Loyalty Solutions. He is focused on the expansion of Merkle’s loyalty services into untapped industries and geographies and further disrupting the loyalty industry. For over 20 years, Michael has cultivated a rich background in client services, product development, marketing, technology, and operations. As President of Kobie Marketing, Michael was responsible for all facets of the loyalty marketing organization, and grew the company exponentially over his tenure. Previously, Michael served as Executive Vice President of ESC (now TSYS Loyalty) and held leadership positions at Broadvision, Consumer Financial Network, and Mutual Of New York (MONY). Michael holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Notre Dame.
Geoffrey Smalling
Geoffrey Smalling
CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER
Geoffrey leads the technology group at Merkle Loyalty Solutions. His responsibilities include driving the expansion of the LoyaltyPlus product suite and providing expert technical guidance to Merkle's loyalty clients. Most recently, Geoffrey held the position of CTO at wine.com, where he is credited with modernizing the company's front and back end technologies to grow it into the #1 online wine store. Prior to wine.com, he was a software consultant for Proxicom, working with clients that include Niketown, Toyota USA, and Mazda USA. Geoffrey holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
Kristine Jacobs
Kristine Jacobs
VP CUSTOMER SUCCESS
Kristine leads the team responsible for the implementation and optimization of Merkle Loyalty Solutions. Her primary focus is the overall satisfaction of Merkle's loyalty client base. Acting as their trusted advisors from kickoff through implementation, Kristine's team is dedicated to ensuring that each client realizes the full potential of Merkle's market-leading solutions. In her prior roles as a Strategic Relationship Manager at RichRelevance and VP of Strategy and Analysis at Digitas, she has managed key accounts including Sears.com, Overstock.com, and American Express. Kristine holds an M.S. in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University.
Zach Woith
Zach Woith
VP LOYALTY STRATEGY
Zach is responsible for developing strategies to improve customer loyalty and increase the lifetime value of customer relationships for Merkle Loyalty Solutions' client partners. Serving as lead strategist, he provides clients direction in framing the business case and ROI opportunity, formulating program structure, and identifying opportunities for ongoing optimization. Prior to joining Merkle, Zach held multiple eCommerce management roles with hpdirect.com, including launching and managing their highly successful loyalty program. Previously, he held other category management and marketing roles with Hewlett-Packard. Zach holds an M.B.A. with a concentration in Strategic Marketing from Indiana University, Kelley School of Business.
Wendy Ryan
Wendy Ryan
VP BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Wendy leads all new logo business development activity for Merkle Loyalty Solutions. Her success comes from her consultative approach to solving business problems for prospective clients. Previously, she spent 9.5 years as a Senior Director of Business Development at Merkle, where she was responsible for helping clients grow revenue by improving their ability to align customer-centric communications in today’s complex marketing landscape. She has over 20 years of experience managing executive level relationships, marketing, client support, and account management on a global level. Her prior roles at Merkle, Cardlytics, and Harland Clarke included direct relationships with Fortune 1000 companies in Retail, Consumer Goods, Financial Services, and Not for Profit. She holds a B.F.A. in Communications with a Public Relations emphasis from Valdosta State University.