Google’s early stumbles with Wallet are the startup ecosystem’s gains. Chicago’s up-and-coming Braintree just poached Aunkur Arya, who headed partnerships for Google Wallet, to be its general manager for mobile. The company, backed by Accel Partners, also picked up Klas Bäck to oversee international and payment strategy.
Braintree is processing about $1 billion per year in mobile payments, for clients including Hotel Tonight, Angry Birds-maker Rovio and Zimride, which runs ride-sharing service Lyft. They, along with other competitors like PayPal and YC-backed Stripe, are trying to grab a slice of what is fast becoming the most strategically important area in e-commerce.
Braintree estimates that about 20 percent of e-commerce shopping sessions are happening on mobile devices and that raw figure is growing by two to three times every year. Companies like Groupon say that mobile platforms account for about a third of their transactions in developed markets like North America. Braintree stresses that the $1 billion in transactions it’s facilitating aren’t just peer-to-peer transfers, they’re actual purchases of goods or services directly from mobile phones.
The company, which had been bootstrapped up until last fall, took a big slug of funding from Accel with a $34 million round that the Palo Alto venture firm took whole. They then turned around and acquired New York-based mobile payments startup Venmo for $26 million. Venmo operates as a separate unit.
“Venmo gave us a very slick consumer wallet application that sits right with our our checkout process,” CEO Bill Ready tells us.
Google Wallet, meanwhile, has seen a spate of departures to Square and smaller startups after an internal clash between new leadership brought over from PayPal and early team members who backed NFC. Rob von Behren, one of the founding engineers for Wallet, went to Square, while other founding team members Jonathan Wall and Marc Freed-Finnegan have started their own company Tappmo.
Arya becomes one of the latest to leave the team. Before Wallet, he led mobile app business development at AdMob. That means he should have a wealth of relationships with top tier mobile developers, which will help Braintree quickly rack up more big name clients. Bäck, meanwhile, will lead international strategy at a key time for Braintree. The company just opened in 30 new countries.