In­no­va­tion Se­same Phone

Next Steps Se­same is work­ing on a tablet ver­sion and a down­load­able app that will work with other phones. “We were drawn to Se­same first and fore­most be­cause of the qual­ity and ease of use of its tech­nol­ogy,” says Google.org port­fo­lio man­ager Andrew Dunck

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let go, in­clud­ing a list of names, skills, and con­tact in­for­ma­tion. The list has since been re­moved, but Gok­turk says the ef­fort helped three-quar­ters of his for­mer em­ploy­ees find jobs.

There was no such good­will pro­gram when the lights went out at Powa Tech­nolo­gies, the U.K. Square clone once val­ued at $2.7 bil­lion. Powa filed for ad­min­is­tra­tion, the rough Bri­tish equiv­a­lent of bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion, in Fe­bru­ary. The board re­moved found­ing CEO Dan Wag­ner, who last year said he wanted to build the “big­gest tech com­pany in liv­ing mem­ory.” It brought in ac­count­ing firm Deloitte to con­sult, which re­sulted in 72 jobs be­ing cut at Powa’s Lon­don head­quar­ters. In March, pieces of the com­pany were sold off.

Swedish Square look-alike Izet­tle has shielded it­self from much of the cardreader-re­lated fall­out be­cause it avoided hype in the first place, says CEO Ja­cob de Geer. “We ended up with a very good Euro­pean val­u­a­tion, I would say, but hav­ing the same type of busi­ness in the U.S., I’m pretty sure it would have been sig­nif­i­cantly higher,” he says. A per­son familiar with the com­pany’s pri­vate val­u­a­tion pegged it at about $500 mil­lion; de Geer de­clined to com­ment.

Square has been push­ing be­yond card read­ers as it looks for ways to grow, sell­ing add-on ser­vices such as cash ad­vances and soft­ware tools to an­a­lyze sales data. It’s also bring­ing in larger cus­tomers, which it said in its first post-ipo earn­ings state­ment will help it turn a profit this year.

Gok­turk says Pay­firma is fo­cus­ing on its strat­egy of bundling card read­ers, tra­di­tional check­out­counter hard­ware and soft­ware, and on­line sales tools as a monthly sub­scrip­tion pack­age, aimed at busi­nesses slightly larger than Square’s and Izet­tle’s clients. Pay­firma also has a re­fer­ral deal with CIBC, one of Canada’s largest banks, which helps bring in cus­tomers with­out hav­ing to hire sales­peo­ple. “We’ve ex­tended our run­way,” Gok­turk says, “to the point where we can now get to profitabil­ity with the cash on our bal­ance sheet.” �Ger­rit De Vynck

The bot­tom line Mak­ers of once-promis­ing credit card read­ers are re­trench­ing or out­right fold­ing af­ter Square’s dis­ap­point­ing IPO.

Edited by Jeff Muskus Bloomberg.com

Form and func­tion

Se­same En­able has de­vel­oped smart­phone soft­ware for peo­ple who have lit­tle or no use of their hands. Users ma­nip­u­late the phone’s screen and apps with a com­bi­na­tion of voice com­mands and slight turns of their head.

The com­pany bun­dles its soft­ware with a Google Nexus 5 for $700.

Ben-dov says about 1 mil­lion of the 6 mil­lion peo­ple par­a­lyzed in the U.S. have the range of head mo­tion needed to use Se­same.

1. In­no­va­tor Oded Ben-dov Age

Co-founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Se­same En­able, a six-em­ployee startup in Cae­sarea, Is­rael

A cur­sor on the phone’s screen fol­lows even the tini­est of mo­tion a user makes, down to a cou­ple of de­grees. Leav­ing it hov­er­ing over an icon or a com­mand brings up an ac­tion prompt. Voice com­mands can also help nav­i­gate.

Cost Mar­ket 2. Use

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