With $25m in the bank, Clinkle takes on mobile payments

The U.S. startup raised money from an all-star Silicon Valley roster that includes Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and Ross Perot, Jr.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Clinkle, a two-year-old startup company based in San Francisco, announced this morning that it wants to take on the growing mobile payments market. It announced a $25 million bounty to do so.

The seed financing comes from an incredible list of fixtures in Silicon Valley, which either demonstrates the insularity of the region or raw confidence in Clinkle's technology and approach to a market that is already highly competitive.

The extensive investor list reads like so:

  • Accel Partners
  • Andreessen Horowitz
  • Intel Capital
  • Intuit
  • Andrew Viterbi, co-founder, Qualcomm
  • Bob Joss, former dean, Stanford Business School, and former vice chairman, Wells Fargo
  • Diane Greene & Mendel Rosenblum, co-founders, VMWare
  • Dick Fredericks, former United States Ambassador to Switzerland
  • Gordon Eubanks, former CEO, Symantec
  • Jim Breyer, partner, Accel Partners
  • Marc Benioff, founder and CEO, Salesforce
  • Mehran Sahami, associate chair of computer science, Stanford
  • Owen Van Natta, former COO, Facebook
  • Peter Crisp, founding partner, Venrock Associates
  • Peter Thiel, co-founder and former CEO, Paypal
  • Regis McKenna
  • Ross Perot Jr.

If you were to ask a Silicon Valley startup's founders to list all of their dream investors, this is pretty much that list.

We know very little about the company's technology so far. What we do know: it wants to pursue the "digital wallet" concept that Apple, Google and others have experimented with in the past, and it says it's figured out a way to do it without requiring you to take your plastic debit and credit cards along for the ride.

Chief executive Lucas Duplan wrote in a blog post:

The exchange of value is one of humanity’s most important inventions. But somehow, the way in which we transact hasn’t significantly changed in decades. Instead, it’s stood idle during the invention of the PC, the Internet, and the smartphone. In fact, most people around the world still rely on the same technology humans used centuries ago: paper and coins.

"Wait until you see the technology behind it. It's clear to us that Lucas and his team have achieved impressive technological breakthroughs," Intuit chief executive Brad Smith said in a statement.

"Clinkle's approach is fundamentally different from what's out there," VMware founder Diane Greene said in a statement.

"We take what we do very seriously and we're going to be trusted to handle people's money, so the margin for error is zero," Duplan told my CNET colleague Donna Tam.

The company is mostly mum on the details, except for this: it plans to release its payment platform "this upcoming year."  We're already halfway through 2013, so the clock is ticking. Let's see if the company can make its debut before the Q4 holiday season.

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