It’s never a dull moment when it comes to Clinkle, the mobile payments startup which hopes to one day replace your wallet. The young company’s roller coaster ride continues with the news today that former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy has stepped down from his day-to-day role with the company as COO after less than six months.
When McCarthy joined the company in October, the belief was that he would bring some adult leadership to the company, which had been founded by 22 year-old Lucas Duplan. Despite raising $25 million from a large group of A-list investors, after two years the company had yet to release product at that time.
Well, that’s finally changed, at least. According to Duplan, the company last month rolled out a beta version of the Clinkle mobile application to employees and it has since made it available to friends and family of the company. It’s also processing payments, both in peer-to-peer and peer-to-merchant situations (though the company has declined to say which merchants are participating).
Now with product out in the field, Clinkle is working on squashing bugs and targeting a broader release later this year.
That’s not the only news the company is announcing. It’s also raised “several million dollars” from Stanford University through the university’s partnership with the StartX accelerator program, which Clinkle participated in. That partnership was announced last September as a way for Stanford to invest in student- and alumni-led startups just like a VC firm.
But back to McCarthy. Despite a string of bad press, including employee departures and layoffs, as well as early leaks of Clinkle’s product plans, the former Netflix exec joined presumably to create some order amongst the chaos.
From the outside, he appeared to do just that: McCarthy was instrumental in attracting other senior execs that he had worked with, including VP of operations Andy Rendich and VP of talent Allison Hopkins. It also recently added former PayPal exec Mike Liberatore as its CFO.
That last hire may have precipitated McCarthy’s departure. According to Duplan, whom I spoke with by phone earlier today, McCarthy’s experience as CFO and operator at Netflix overlapped with experience the company had hired for. And, at least in the short term, someone with 12 years of experience overseeing finances at Netflix isn’t necessarily in the “strike zone” for a product-focused startup just coming to market.
“Barry’s skill set is an overlay to, but not in the strike zone in the next 12 months, for what could make Clinkle successful,” Duplan said. “It makes a lot more sense for him to be an advisor rather than be in day-to-day charge.”
While McCarthy will remain an advisor to the company, Duplan said that Clinkle right now is mostly focused on product and engineering and not scaling up its sales force. At least, not yet.
Of course, through all of this, Duplan fessed up to making mistakes, particularly in hiring some people that he shouldn’t have over the last year. As a result, the company has seen some well-publicized turnover in its personnel. But the addition of Hopkins and Rendich, who were brought in by McCarthy but are staying on board, should hopefully help stabilize things.
“I’ve learned a huge amount as a rookie CEO,” he said. “But I’m trying to become less of a rookie.”
We’ll see how that plays out, especially once the product is live.