Clinkle, the mysterious payment app that raised $30 million, failed to gain traction, and then lost a chunk of its staff, is pivoting.
TechCrunch’s Josh Constine reports that Clinkle is now pivoting away from being a mobile payments and loyalty debit card startup, and it’s becoming an SDK (software development kit) called Treats — a referral service.
Other apps can integrate Treats to let users win rewards for referring their friends to the app, Constine reports, citing emails he’s reviewed in which Clickle CEO Lucas Duplan has apparently tried to encourage other startup founders to integrate the Treats SDK into their own apps.
When Clinkle finally launched last year, it looked like a prepaid debit card program and was initially only available at select colleges.
Clinkle’s “Treats” program, as it was called at the time, involved sending users a physical card, which they could load and reload with money. You could then earn what Clinkle calls “Treats.” Treats could also be sent to friends. They could do things like refund a purchase you made, or even pay for a friend’s purchase.
How would Treats as an SDK differ from the customer-loyalty program Treats started out as when it launched? Constine explains:
“For example, an on-demand car service could offer $5 discounts for referrals, but also enter users into a contest to win a year’s worth of free rides. Or a shopping app could tease a $250 store credit you could win by buying things. In exchange for managing the referral system, Clinkle/Treats gets a fee equal to 30 per cent of whatever its clients pay out in rewards.”
When he was 20 years old a few years ago, Lucas Duplan, then a Stanford student, announced that his company, Clinkle, had raised the “largest seed round in Silicon Valley history” — a $25 million round of funding from big-name investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer. Apparently the round was an uncapped convertible note, which is relatively unheard of for a young founder with no prior startup successes to his or her name.
But the startup was mired in controversy, and didn’t immediately launch a product or reveal what it was actually working on for some time. Clinkle has suffered lots of layoffs and employees quitting while the company has sought a successful pivot.
We’ve reached out to Clinkle for comment, and we’ll update this post accordingly.
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