Square Adds Talent with Two Acquisitions; Streamlines Card Reader (Dec. 12, 2013)
Square Inc. has stuffed its stocking in recent days with a few key acquisitions primed to enrich consumers’ use of the mobile payments app for everyday activities. The moves pit Square more directly against PayPal in the gradually accelerating race to dominate P2P payments and sweeten the social media side of Square’s offerings. But in purchasing P2P app Evenly and photo-sharing service Viewfinder, Square is more interested in the talent these companies bring aboard, not necessarily the technology itself, observers say. Square also this week announced a redesign of its smartphone-based card reader, making it leaner and meaner, with a 45 percent thinner frame.
As part of what looks more like a talent raid than bolting on new technology, Square on Dec. 11 announced it’s buying Evenly, an app designed to help friends share expenses. Square plans to shut down the company in early 2014 so its team can join Square. Evenly’s key advantage is how it emphasizes “the importance of prioritizing experience over the technical aspects of the product itself,” Gokul Rajaram, Square’s product engineering lead, wrote in a blog post. (Square hired Rajaram away from Facebook’s advertising division earlier this year.) Evenly meshes with Square Cash, the P2P service Square unveiled in October enabling anyone with a debit card to send money to another recipient via email. Separately, Square also disclosed last week its purchase of Viewfinder, an app for organizing and sharing photos. Financial terms for the acquisitions were not disclosed.
Both acquisitions appear to be about landing hot and hard-to-find engineering talent, Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst with Aite Group, believes. “It’s interesting to note that these are consumer-centric [companies] Square is acquiring, because I expect Square to do a lot more to build Square Wallet and Square Market into stronger consumer solutions,” Oglesby adds.