Lucas Duplan, top contender for the worst young entrepreneur of Silicon Valley three years running, might as well hang a black flag above Clinkle’s offices to signify that his failing payment app company does indeed have the black plague.
Today, seven employees decided to jump ship after the unexpected firing of two of the company’s top executives followed by a drastic pivot on what the company will actually be doing from now on, which has pretty much been an underwhelming mystery since the company was founded. Clinkle has so far created a over-glorified pre-paid debit card program that gives users free coffee and ice cream.
Duplan fired Clinkle’s now-former CFO, Mike Liberatore, a former Paypal senior director of finance, and now-former Clinkle VP of engineering, Hank Pham, also a former Paypal employee who worked as an engineering director. Both executives have already washed Clinkle from their job histories on LinkedIn.
Immediately after dismissing the two execs, Duplan announced that Clinkle urgently needed to pivot into a B2B API, an interface that helps computer programmers create software, specifically when it comes to adding variable rewards to a mobile wallet.
But many employees didn’t take well to the sudden change, and given Clinkle’s turbulent employment past, they decided that the Clinkle ship was heading into a hurricane. Or a cliff face. Or the ship is just sinking.
Duplan hiding Apple buyout?
Seven employees, among them Clinkle veterans, quit today with more expected to resign soon. But why were Liberatore and Pham suddenly fired?
Sources at the company believe Liberatore and Pham were trying to find out whether Apple had made an offer to buy out Clinkle, an offer they believe Duplan rejected because he wanted more money. Whatever the deal was with Apple, Duplan decided to keep his company in the dark. In the months before, Duplan had insisted that Clinkle would be bought out and that it was worth a lot of money, enough to pay back the $30 million investors put in and then some.
In a pivot speech today, Duplan specifically said the move was meant to give Clinkle leverage over Apple and that they might provide the rewards program to other interested companies if Apple doesn’t acquire the company — a ham-fisted attempt at manipulation. His erratic move today may have just destroyed his chances of making a deal with any company.
Duplan has reportedly been mostly absent from the office.
Within the last six months, LinkedIn has shown that Clinkle has lost its director of finance, head of analytics, director of business operations, engineering director and compliance officer. This is what Clinkle’s team homepage on their website looks like now:
Clearly, everyone is done being dragged down by Duplan.