Last August, Silicon Alley darling Venmo, a mobile app that lets you split bills and pay friends, was acquired by Braintree, a PayPal competitor, for $26.2 million. At the time, Braintree emphasized the shift towards mobile commerce. And it looks like having a consumer-facing brand like Venmo is helping in that department.
Today, they announced the launch of Venmo Touch, which should help lower the barrier to buying things on mobile by avoiding the hassle of having to enter your credit card information with every new app . . . as long as it’s part of the Braintree family.
A source familiar the deal told Betabeat yesterday that Venmo, a New York City-based mobile app that lets you split bills with friends, is in the process of being acquired by Braintree, a Chicago-based online payments company and PayPal competitor. The New York Times broke the news this afternoon, reporting a $26.2 million acquisition price. On the company blog, Venmo said the deal closed in mid-June and that its payment-sharing service “will remain unaffected” and continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Venmo and Braintree share an investor, Palo Alto powerhouse Accel Partners, which also invested in Facebook.
The two startups do seem to be in the midst of a mutual appreciation society. Last week, Braintree’s community manager Kristi Lynch tweeted, “I know it sounds weird, but the @Venmo app makes me wish I owed more people money.” Two Venmo employees favorited the tweet.
Venmo was founded in Philadelphia in 2009 by two former college roommates, Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismai. The duo eventually moved the company to New York City, where Venmo become one of the early stars in the city’s growing tech orbit, embraced by early adopters for making it easier to split the cost of dinner, drinks, monthly cable bills–or any of the innumerable costs of urban life–over their phones. There were even cutesy, customizable receipts, eagerly tweeted out by the Alley in-crowd.
Betabeat visited our local pay-with-your-phone startup Venmo yesterday in the company’s overcrowded, underdecorated Chelsea office. It’s two floors above a spa and reminds us of a high school computer lab with the accompanying young people, T-shirts and computers, although the Macbooks were a bit nicer than the monstrous HP desktops we remember from class. We followed cofounder Andrew Kortina down two flights of stairs to a space Venmo has annexed on the second floor, scooted past an intern in Venmo’s bright blue shirt, and kicked a few employees out of a small conference room, where Mr. Kortina propped open the window with an umbrella. A DIY piece of art made out of nails and what appeared to be a piece of the ceiling spelled out “magic room.”
Venmo will probably outgrow its little office soon, although Mr. Kortina likes its proximity to both Penn Station and Whole Foods. Venmo is processing $10 million in transactions per month and growing 30 percent month-over-month. At that rate, give or take a few variables–Mr. Kortina is a data nerd–the company will do $250 million in transaction volume this year.
Perhaps that’s why Mr. Kortina seemed so laid back as Betabeat peppered him with questions about his competitors. But what about Dwolla? What about PayPal? What about Google Wallet? Mr. Kortina is tan and lean, eats kale salads and rides a bike, speaks evenly and takes unhurried pauses. He wishes Whole Foods would take Venmo, but in general, he is not worried about the competition.
The Venmo team is up to 23 “young, passionate people,” as Mr. Kortina said, in an office in Chelsea and is processing $10 million in transactions a month. (Investor Ben Lerer predicted the startup will handle $250 million next year.) “It’s not really stuff that would be captured somewhere else,” he said. “Like if someone’s friend had a bachelor party and they couldn’t go, they could Venmo $20 to get drinks on them because they couldn’t be there. People are using this to share the experience they have when they go out with friends.” Read More
Friends and money, they don’t always mix. But they have to: Exchanging money with friends is impossible to avoid. Drinks, taxis, dinners and cable bills are just some of the things for which we become financially indebted to each other, sometimes for substantial amounts (thanks, expensive City).
There are a few problems with this. Venmo, Read More