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
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.