March 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (you might know him best from the movie The Social Network) has help shepherd fledgling payment gateway Jumio through a first round of fundraising. Eschewing the usual venture capital rigmarole, Saverin and company opted to create a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) to stockpile funds to power their new ecommerce software. They propositioned a select group of high net worth individuals to provide investment capital instead of going to VC groups (a SPAC is what Facebook used to get money from Goldman Sachs).
This somewhat unorthodox strategy seems to have worked, as it has brought in $6.5 million for the project, about which surprisingly little is known. It’s possible that Saverin is trading on his star power from The Social Network, in which he received a sympathetic portrayal (the movie was based off of a book, “The Accidental Billionaires” that he consulted heavily for, so, take that however you want). Says Saverin (regarding Jumio):
“I’m usually a critical person, but the last time I have seen such a disruptive idea was actually Facebook.”
That may be, but details about the project are still tightly under wraps. What we do have are some cryptic videos about how hard it is to get around without cash (a lesson pretty much everyone is familiar with, in this economy) and one about how bad cash is. Serving as sort of a statement of purpose about Jumio, and also a “trailer” about what the ecommerce software is designed to do, it uses the double-whammy of a warm, stern, fatherly, wizened-newscaster voice, paralleled with a professional looking young man wearing glasses (that almost always makes someone look smarter) and speaking with a slight British accent (which almost always makes someone sound smarter).
Combined with images of how dirty and dangerous money is, and bolstered with rhetoric about how much better the world would be without cash (and if everyone used credit cards), Jumio paints a bleak picture of commerce as we know it. Maybe that’s how they got all the funding: by scaring people into giving it to them.