One of the best things about Silicon Valley is how forgiving it is—you don’t just get a second chance here, you get a third and a fourth.Anu Shukla, a serial entrepreneur, is back with a new company, RewardsPay, Business Insider has learned.
She got scorched at her last company, Offerpal Media, for defending shady offers marketed to players of social games like Zynga’s FarmVille. (Offerpal’s now known as Tapjoy; it’s become a mobile-advertising firm.)
When then-TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington called Shukla out for Offerpal’s business practices, she called his charges “shit, double shit, and bullshit“—and thereby became the highly visible face of the offers business, which let marketers give consumers in-game currency in exchange for signing up for a service or product.
Arrington had a point, though. Some of those offers were misleading—supposedly “free” services that charged a monthly fee to people’s credit cards.
The heat got so bad that Shukla stepped down as CEO in late 2009 and left the company in 2010.
So now she’s back! Shukla and her PR rep didn’t respond to requests for comment, but here’s what we’ve figured out about RewardsPay:
- Shukla is its CEO.
- It signed a deal to let Discover cardmembers spend their Cashback Bonus or miles balances on Facebook gift cards, iTunes credit, or in-game currency on Disney’s Club Penguin.
- The company began life in 2009 as Koinz Media, started by cofounder Vasanthi Chandrasekaram, a tech marketer who previously worked at Covad, Sprint, and Apple.
- Kima Ventures, the French angel-investing team of Xavier Niel and Jérémie Berrebi, have backed RewardsPay. (Kima was also an investor in Sparrow, the mobile email-client maker recently bought by Google.)
Shukla is a relentless promoter, so we’re surprised she’s kept the company so quiet. The company’s website suggests that it’s going to let you spend frequent-flier miles, but it hasn’t announced any airline partners yet.
That may be a tough sell, since airlines already have partnerships that let customers trade airline miles for shopping, magazine subscriptions, or gift cards. Points.com, for example, lets American, Delta, and JetBlue customers redeem points for PayPal gift cards, among other rewards.
But Shukla’s insights into the virtual-currency market, garnered during her controversial tenure at Offerpal, may give her an edge. No BS.