Braintree Inc., a small mobile payment vendor founded in 2007, has attracted employees and board members from some of the biggest technology companies. Its recruits say the young company promises a more dynamic environment than the industry giants can provide.
Braintree's employees include Juan Benitez, formerly of Yahoo Inc., who joined Braintree as the chief technology officer in July 2012. Aunkur Arya moved from Google Inc.'s Google Wallet team to join Braintree as general manager of mobile in October. Another former Google employee, Mike Dudas, joined Braintree this year as senior director of mobile business development.
Braintree's board has Capital One co-founder Nigel Morris, who joined in 2011, and Twitter senior vice president of engineering Chris Fry joined last month.
Braintree's mission is to become "the PayPal of the next decade" for mobile devices, Dudas says. He joined Braintree so he could see the effect of his direct contribution at the small company, he says.
Arya says he has a similar motivation. "Smaller teams move faster, and you get to have a direct impact on growing a business."
During Arya's career, six of the seven companies he's worked for have been startups. "It's in my DNA," he says.
Braintree was founded in 2007 and saw rapid growth after securing $34 million in venture capital from Accel Partners of Palo Alto, Calif. Airbnb, Uber, LivingSocial and LevelUp all use Braintree's payment platform.
Braintree cites its technology experts as integral to its success and still continues to look for that kind of talent.
"Developers are builders by their very nature, and a startup is the ultimate construction project," says Richard Oglesby, senior analyst at the Aite Group.
"In a world where things can go 'viral,' the right solution put in the right place can explode, yielding instant gratification for the developers along with financial rewards," Oglesby says. "It's a much bigger adrenaline rush than it is working for a large established player trying to keep their biggest clients happy."
Last summer, Braintree acquired the mobile payment provider Venmo Inc., adding one-click shopping to the startup's "unwallet," as the company calls it, Dudas says. Venmo started as a peer-to-peer payment system, allowing consumers to transfer funds via text message. It launched to the general public in March 2012 after a two-year testing period.
"Braintree is in the absolute sweetest spot of a typical technology platform's growth arc," Dudas says. "We have the agility and rapid development cycles of a startup, allowing us to consistently release innovative features such as Braintree Instant, Braintree.js, Venmo Touch, and Venmo Payouts."
Braintree looks to continue its success, although Oglesby says the space will become increasingly competitive as more consumers use their phones to make payments.
Braintree's strongest competitors are Stripe and PayPal, says Oglesby. Newer entrants include San Francisco, Calif.-based Balanced, although the company mainly targets marketplaces with a white-label offering.
"The payments space has to move very fast to keep up and it's exciting to see big companies and small startups go to battle to make a dent in the industry," says Arya.