There are many industries worthy of large-scale disruption, including dry cleaning and the line at Shake Shack. But one crucial industry that Betabeat forgot to mention in our list of things we wish techies would disrupt? Candy. How could we forget?
According to All Things D, a coterie of celebrities–including bus-riding Square cofounder Jack Dorsey, model Gisele Bundchen and full-time Boston tour guide Matt Damon–have teamed up to sing the praises of a new candy company. Unreal Candy purports to be a natural, non-corn-syrup alternative to the gross chemical-laden stuff that somehow still tempts you every time you enter a bodega.
Hip to Be Square
Visa and Mastercard have long dominated the retail payment business (after all, when was the last time you saw someone flaunting a Discover card?). But now, Dwolla*–which recently launched an NYC office–and the San Francisco-based Square may be collaborating to knock the two legacy institutions off their pedestal.
Quartz reports that there may be a deal in the works between the two–one that would benefit both merchants and customers. Square provides a way for businesses to process credit card payments without clunky POS systems; Dwolla allows users to instantaneously transfer money with a flat fee of $.25. By teaming up, the two could really give the dominant credit card processing companies a run for their money.
Everyone’s favorite credit card processing company has returned from its latest trip to the venture capital trough. Today Square announced a $200 million Series D, in a five-sentence blog post that could only be described as terse. Perhaps CEO Jack Dorsey is taking his emulation of Bruce Lee a little too far?
According to the announcement, investors include Citi Ventures, Rizvi Traverse Management, and Starbucks Coffee Company. Judging from CrunchBase, it looks like CrunchFund also got in on the action. The cash will go toward an international expansion planned for later this year.
Tap It To Me
Before most consumers have gotten around to downloading a single mobile payments app onto their smartphone, a consortium of a big chain stores are preparing to push out yet another alternative. The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart, Target, 7-Eleven, Best Buy, CVS, Sunoco, and more are in the early stages of developing a horribly-named payments network called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which will let users pay with a tap of their phone.
Rather than go the Starbucks route and partner with Square or follow other national retailers (like Duane Reade, RadioShack, Banana Republic, etc.) into Google Wallet, the group is going rogue, arguing that Google and other telecom providers–AT&T and T-Mobile have a payments app called Isis; Verizon and Vodafone have one as well–don’t understand customers like they do. The retailers behind MCX point out that they have a combined $1 trillion in annual sales and “serve nearly every smartphone user in the U.S.”
Listen, we understand the desire to reside in a big ol’ tech bubble. It’s so warm and cozy here, with beanbags for office chairs, free lunches prepared by gourmet chefs and cashed-out friends lending you spare Burning Man costumes. Why would you ever want to leave?
But sometimes the need for a reality check burns a hole in your chest, just beneath your hand-sewn, perfectly tailored Everlane shirt. While whipping through the city in an Uber expensed to your corporate card, you might grow a little wistful, hot tears fogging your Warby Parker specs. As you listen to MGMT on the iPod you got as a company Christmas gift, you might become nostalgic for a time when “pitching” referred to baseball and you could easily relate to How The Other Half Lives.
Let's Make a Deal
As the adage goes, there is a Starbucks on every corner. What better way for a payment service company to reach critical mass than setting itself up at the most familiar cash register in America?
The New York Times reports today that mobile payment service Square will process all credit and debit transactions for Starbucks beginning in the fall. It’s a major coup for the mobile payment startup that has mostly been relegated to craft tables at flea markets and indie boutiques.
Talk to a startup recruiter about hiring young developers, and he’ll eventually admit it’s hard to compete in the campus cattle call, with Goldman and Google sucking up all the air.
But rather than rely on incendiary exit letters or Aaron Sorkin scripts to convince engineering talent to come over to to the startup side, a number of smaller companies are banding together to flex their collective recruiting power.
XX in Tech
On Twitter, judgement is swift–and vociferous. Minutes after Jack Dorsey tweeted out a photo of lunch with Square’s summer interns, users (of the service he cofounded) notice a glaring absence of any XX chromosomes at the table. “Looks more like a sausage party, than a ham & cheese party,” quipped designer Jody Ferry.
Sex in the Valley
XY breakdown be damned, looks like one more woman is headed into the VC business, starting next month. Dan Primack reports that Megan Quinn is leaving her gig as head of products at Square for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where she’ll be focusing on consumer Internet. Yes, she will be a partner. Read More
Earlier this week, Betabeat shlepped out to LaGuardia and took a plane and then another plane to Nebraska. We could tell things were gonna be different when the view from the window seat was tract after tract of pastoral green and brown instead of the Lite Brites that usually greet us descending into Queens. Then our shuttle driver from the airport invited us over for a home-cooked meal. We could get used to Central Time!
We are here, of course, for Big Omaha, an intimate startup conference that people like to describe as “how SXSW used to be,” i.e. before the marketers descended, Jay-Z showed up, and the suits started ruining everything. Attendance is capped at 650 and batches of tickets sell out within minutes.