Earlier today Facebook ecommerce platform Payvment announced it was shutting down and transitioning its 200,000 merchants to competitor Ecwid, but we’ve just discovered that’s because Intuit is acquiring Payvment’s team, technology, and patents. Update: Intuit has confirmed its purchase of Payvment to TechCrunch, saying “Intuit has acquired a team of highly skilled developers who will be of great value to the social teams at Intuit.”
This morning, a message posted on Payvment’s website noted the team is “joining a new company,” and the platform will end its operations on February 28th. But we spotted some Payvment employees had switched their LinkedIn profiles to note Intuit as their new home. Sources confirmed the company Payvment hinted at was Intuit, who has bought its technology, talent, and IP. Intuit may make a formal announcement soon. It could be a very smart play, as Payvment could help make it easy for Intuit’s small businesses finance suite customers to launch storefronts on social properties like Facebook.
The news of the Payvment’s acquisition comes following the exit of the CEO, Christian Taylor, who announced his departure this July, saying that he was ready to work on his “next big startup.” Taylor remained on the company’s board of directors, but the day-to-day operations shifted over to COO Jim Stoneham at the time.
Stoneham tells us Payvment had just passed 175,000 sellers and was adding new sellers at a rate of 1,500 per week, he said. Its Ad platform, which helped Payvment merchants buy Facebook ads, was reportedly doing well, too. That being said, according to AppData, only 20,000 to 30,000 of Payvment’s registered users had been active monthly as of the time of the CEO’s exit (source: AppData). Intuit could potentially start letting its customers buy Facebook ads for their businesses through Payvment’s technology.
Payvment, despite growing to hundreds of thousands of merchants, still faced a challenge in that shopping on Facebook – sometimes casually referred to as “f-commerce” – is still in its early stages. Users still seem more interested in liking and commenting on items, than actually transacting on Facebook itself.
That may be why Intuit didn’t want to take over Payvment’s entire business, but instead just wanted the raw materials. So rather than shut down its storefront platform and stranding hundreds of thousands of online merchants, the Palo Alto-based Payvment struck a deal to hand them over to Ecwid following three years of intense competition with the Russian startup. Ecwid, which recently became the Facebook store-builder with the most monthly active users (100,000+, according to AppData), has an existing community of 250,000 merchants in 174 countries. It offers an e-commerce widget that can be embedded on any website, blog or Facebook page.
The company also reports growth of its own, noting that during the holiday shopping period (Oct-Dec 2012), total sales from Ecwid-powered stores grew 65 percent from the previous quarter and referral (inbound) links from Facebook to Ecwid stores accounted for 8.5 percent of purchases.
According to Ecwid CEO Ruslan Fazlyev, his service was gaining Facebook users throughout 2012, while Payvment was losing customers. “On December 2012 we caught up with Payvment and took the lead,” he tells us. At the time, Ecwid was ahead by 10,000 monthly actives. Payvment then contacted Ecwid asking it to participate in an auction to bid for their customer base. “We participated in this auction with some other undisclosed companies, won, and now we made it possible for Payvment’s customers to not suffer from them closing down the Facebook storefronts,” Fazlyev adds. Terms of that deal are not being disclosed, however.
We reached Payvment CEO Stoneham for comment. He says
“The story from our side is quite simple – we have built an amazing team and have broken a lot of new ground around using social and commerce ‘big data’ to empower SMBs – and another company who knows our work and team decided he were a great fit to help them more rapidly achieve their objectives in social and big data,” Stoneham says. “This company did not intend to directly continue our current business, so we talked to a number of top-notch commerce platform companies and ultimately partnered with Ecwid to ensure our large base of SMB sellers can keep moving forward,” he adds.
“As for our numbers, we continue to see strong seller sign-ups in the same range – even after taking down a few ‘open a store’ links on our product to taper off new registrants,” Stoneham tells us.
Below, the full text from Payvment’s announcement:
Important changes at Payvment
The Payvment team is joining a new company and the Payvment platform will be shut down on February 28th.
As part of this transition, you will have one month to transfer your store to Ecwid, which will allow you to continue selling on Facebook. Ecwid is a global leader in Social Commerce with over 200,000 sellers in 174 countries and a robust Facebook application very similar to Payvment. For details, visit ecwid.com/payvment.
Here are the most common ones about the transition with answers below:
What will happen to my store? What about Lish?
Payvment and Lish stores and the Payvment Dashboard will be active through February 28th. On March 1, the service will shut down. Stores will stop operating and you will no longer have access to your Dashboard.
Data and Information
I want to keep selling on Facebook. Can I transfer my store to a different platform?
Yes! We have partnered with leading e-commerce company Ecwid to transfer your store seamlessly to their platform, where you can continue selling on Facebook. It takes just one click from your dashboard. Learn more here
I want to save my product listings. How do I do that?
You can transfer your product listings to Ecwid to continue selling on Facebook (and elsewhere). Just click the “Transfer my account” button at https://my.payvment.com
Can I save my order information?
You can download a CSV of your order information: click the “Export to CSV” button in the top right of the “Orders” tab in your Dashboard and you will get a file with order details, customer contact information, and other details.
What will happen to my account data once Payvment ceases operations?
Your product listings, product images, and order information will be deleted on March 1, 2013. Please transfer your account to Ecwid from your dashboard before February 28th to preserve your data.
Can I download my product images?
No, but these will be transferred to Ecwid when you transfer your store to their platform.
What will happen to my email address and account information?
Your address will not be given to any third party without your permission. If you elect to transfer your store to Ecwid, you will be sharing your email address, account information, and store data and settings with Ecwid. We will not share any stored credit card information as part of the transfer.
How can I delete my account permanently?
Click on the “Delete Account” button on the home page of your dashboard.
Buying and Selling
Can I continue to add new products and promotions?
We have disabled the ability to add new products, new promotions, new deals, and new Facebook ads. You can still edit your existing products until February 28.
Can customers still shop in my store? For how long?
Yes, stores on both Facebook and Lish are still active and will be fully operational until February 14th. This gives time for you to collect and fulfill final orders before the platform shuts down on February 28.
So what happens after February 14th? Does my store disappear?
No, stores will still be available, but the “Buy” button will no longer function.
When will Lish and Payvment stores be shut down?
All stores will cease operation up on March 1, 2013. After that time, any links to your store or products will redirect to http://www.payvment.com.
Marketing Tools: Posts, Deals, Weekly Deals, Facebook Ads
Can I still create new promotions for my products and deals?
No. No new promotions can be created from your Payvment Dashboard.
Can I offer Weekly Deals?
The last Weekly Deal period is January 28-February 1, so new Weekly Deal creation is no longer possible.
Can I still buy Facebook Ads with Payvment? What if I have existing scheduled ads?
You can no longer purchase Facebook Ads using Payvment. All existing ads will be honored and will run on Facebook. They will continue to send customers to your store, where they will be able to purchase products. No ads will run after February 14th, when the “Buy” button will be turned off.
My subscription just renewed or I just subscribed. Can I have a refund?
You will continue to have Premium features through the end of February, regardless of when your subscription is supposed to renew and you will not be charged again. We will not issue refunds to monthly subscribers for this time period.
I signed up for Payvment Premium Yearly last week/month/etc. Can I have my money back?
Yes. We will refund all Premium yearly subscribers on a prorated basis automatically. Contact us at email@example.com with subject line Premium if you have questions.
Update: This article has been heavily edited to note that Payvment isn’t exactly shutting down outright and passing its customers to Ecwid. Instead it’s been acquiried by Intuit.