Clinkle, the stealth payment startup founded by 22-year-old Lucas Duplan, is losing the COO it hired five months ago from Netflix, Barry McCarthy.
McCarthy will no longer hold his day-to-day role at the company. Duplan says he’ll remain an advisor to Clinkle and that his decision to depart was “a very mutual” one.
The departure is one of many for the startup in the past few months. Duplan spoke candidly about the hiring mistakes he’s made as a first-time CEO.
“Last summer I hired in anticipation of very quick scale,” says Duplan. “I snapped up the sales team and managers, and some of those hires were outside our core strike zone.” The “strike” zone, according to Duplan, are things most startups prioritise — engineers, support, and legal teams. Sales and finance executives often come after the product is fully developed and launched.
“I’ve certainly made mistakes, no doubt about it,” Duplan says. “My job is to get the right people on the bus. And once they’re on the bus, to get those people in the right seats. This is my first bus. Figuring out who we need and where they fit in is a very tough exercise…I’m young and this is my first time as CEO. If someone older was running this, would it have been a straighter shot? Maybe.”
McCarthy, the departing COO, tells Re/Code’s Jason Del Rey: “He’s taking an enormous amount of shit and we would all agree he’s done some dumb stuff…But how many guys his age would have 1. had the vision. 2. been able to attract the capital and people, and have had courage to go out there and risk it all. I have great admiration for him.”
Part of the reason Duplan made hiring mistakes may be because he had a lot of money to play with. A strapped-for-cash startup might have been more diligent about hiring, but Clinkle emerged last summer with $25 million, the largest seed round ever announced in Silicon Valley history. It’s since gone on to raise $US10 — 15 million more. Virgin’s Richard Branson is an investor. Stanford University also invested a few million dollars late last year through a partnership between the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University and the school’s StartX program. All in, Clinkle has raised $US30 — 40 million; Duplan says there is more than $US20 million left in the bank. It’s not clear if that means $US15 — 20 million is already gone.
Clinkle is still testing its product although it’s starting to let more users into its system. Duplan says he still isn’t sure when the app will be ready for mass consumption, but right now family and friends are using it to send live transactions. McCarthy told Re/Code he expected the product to launch last November.