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Clinkle becomes a tech celebrity magnet, landing Richard Branson as an investor

Stashed in: Peter Thiel, @a16z, @richardbranson, @om

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The hype keeps building around Clinkle, a still-secretive Palo Alto mobile payments startup founded by 22-year-old Lucas Duplan. It’s already raised $25 million in seed funding from an impressive list of Silicon Valley backers, and that list just got even more impressive. Clinkle announced Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has made a personal investment of an undisclosed amount in the company.

The company, which still claims to be in stealth mode, has received an inordinate amount of attention from respected investors and tech luminaries including Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Intel, Intuit, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi, VMWare co-founders Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum, Venrock Associates founding partner Peter Crisp, and Salesforce founder and CEO Mark Benioff.

Clinkle Wallet

Despite the big spotlight, Clinkle hasn’t let on exactly what it plans to do. We know this: Clinkle is creating a mobile wallet that requires no special hardware on the phone (i.e. no NFC chip) nor at the point-of-sale – just software. Clinkle also plans on overcoming the problem of scale every mobile payments service faces by focusing on college and universities campuses, which tend to be insular environments.

That hardly sounds revolutionary, but Clinkle founder and CEO Duplan has hinted at some other technical element that is making people like Branson and Thiel go gaga at demos. TechCrunch and ValleyWag may have caught a whiff of that mystery technology from their sources. Both reported that Clinkle uses high-frequency sound to exchange information between phones and standard payment terminals, though TechCrunch later excised its post of the relevantgraphs. It’s hard to say if these are anything more than rumors at this point.

There are so many things about this story that wreak of arrogance.

Tremendous competition, a ridiculous amount of money raised, a first time CEO with no understanding of how to build an efficient business...

Clinkle is a Roman candle.

I'm not clear on what "inordinate amount of attention" means here and why the likes of Andreesen Horowitz and Mark Benioff would give it to Clinkle.  Is Clinkle less Roman candle and more souffle'?

I doubt it. I think it's going to flame out HARD in a crash and burn for the ages.

Whatever it is, it's gonna scare the shit outta dogs and autistic kids on campus with its use of high-frequency sound to exchange information...

I'm envious of all such successful money fluffers, raising retarded amounts of early cash.  I wonder how much of the company is left for Duplan at this point, or if he even owns any of it.  Interesting +x pre-revenue valuation over $25M if he does... 

Also curious about Duplan himself, did he AB test pitch the angels, is he just a great fluffer, does he actually have something worth the couch change he's raising from the elephants, or is this just more herd instinct and a pile-on party for VCs with too much cash and nowhere to blow it?

Meh, anyway--good for him!

Good for him, for now. In the long run, this will hurt him a lot.

Because it will never be as good as it is right now. Only place to go is down.

I agree...and/or he could serial segue: there seems to be plenty of room in irrational times for folks to flip their stake and go sideways into their next, or another's, venture.

The Serialosity game rewards winning big players and losing big players, but never 6% pretax lingering-on players... better to fail magnificently and go "Next!" then limp along and stay home cutting coupons.

In fact, perversely enough, achieving any opportunity to fail at scale is about as close to success in the startup game as one can get without actually succeeding.

However, this principle applies only to founders with big backers and OPM, it's not the same set of rules for early employees, currency traders, or founders using their own, friends and families' bankroll.

I'm beginning to believe that only big backers can make a startup be able to have a big failure.

Without big backers, no one cares.

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