Richard Branson Invests in a Startup That No One Understands Yet
Stealth startup Clinkle announced Branson would be added to the long list of investors banking on its mysterious product being a grand slam.
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No one knows exactly what Clinkle does, but that isn't stopping Richard Branson from ponying up cash for the stealth-mode startup.
"We're thrilled to have Richard on board," said Clinkle CEO Lucas Duplan in a statement. "We're united by many shared values, including a passion for innovation, dedication to quality, and commitment to our people."
While any startup with Branson tied to it will feel some media love, the serial entrepreneur doesn't really stand out from the already long list of Silicon Valley heavyweights who have faith that Clinkle is going to be the next big thing.
As we reported in June, the startup raised a reported $25 million (it was later determined through SEC filings the round was actually $27 million) from investors like Peter Thiel, Andreessen Horowitz, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Index Ventures and Jim Breyer, among others. Clinkle's seed round was supposedly the largest in Silicon Valley history, and the funding was secured without an actual prototype.
Also, during that time Clinkle announced it was opening up its waiting list to college students across the U.S. The colleges with the highest percentage of their students joining Clinkle would get access first.
Apparently, the Clinkle hype caught on, as more than 100,000 students have signed up, with Stanford University, Duke University, University of Alabama, University of Michigan and Southern Methodist University leading the pack.
Still, these students still aren't sure what they are exactly signing up for or what all the buzz is about, except that there is a virtual wallet component to it.
I decided to give it a whirl. Using my old New York University student email address, I joined Clinkle. I was brought to a landing page with an image of a phone displaying a wallet flush with cash and credit cards.
Upon further scrolling I noticed a bank component. Chase seems to be partner in all this, as its icon was prominently featured in the slide. With money being dispersed from a virtual bank into the wallet, a transfer feature is likely to be integrated.
The last hint of what Clinkle has to offer deals with peer-to-peer transactions, or sending and receiving money from friends, family, you name it.
Sadly, the last message made me realize I shouldn't get too excited about Clinkle's sneak peek or start theorizing about what all the fuss is about.
Even as Clinkle's product remains a mystery to the general public, the 22-year-old founder and CEO Lucas Duplan wants people to know it is going to be world changing. Alongside the Branson announcement, the Stanford dropout released a commercial about how Clinkle will revolutionize our way of connecting with people and that "we're all in this together." For Duplan and his investors, let's hope so.
What do you think Clinkle is up to? Let us know in the comments below.