Paypal executive leaves for mobile payments startup Clinkle

The stealth startup, which has yet to release a product, keeps plucking big talent to join its ranks.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
A Clinkle promo image shows off a few screens from the app. Clinkle

Clinkle has hired away an executive from digital payments giant PayPal, the startup announced Tuesday.

The fledging mobile payments company, which has yet to officially reveal how its product works, has hired Mike Liberatore, a vice president at PayPal heading up enterprise and North American financials, to be Clinkle's chief financial officer. He's leaving PayPal after nearly five years. Prior to his time at PayPal, he worked at the payments service's parent company eBay for four years.

Clinkle's new Chief Financial Officer Mike Liberatore. Clinkle

"Clinkle is different in that our sole focus is to create a mobile wallet for day-to-day transactions," Liberatore said in a statement. "We're putting all of our energy into perfecting the moment when two people transact."

He said he decided leave PayPal, which has aggressively revamped its mobile products in the last year, for Clinkle, because he wanted to join a startup.

Clinkle has been in flux recently. Although it quickly grew to about 70 employees in September, the company is now at around 50, after it did some "restructuring" in December.

But Clinkle is holding steadfast to its hype. The company seems to have attracted the attention -- and the money -- of Silicon Valley's biggest names, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson. The company previously hired a number of Netflix alumni to round out its executive team, including former Netflix Chief Financial Officer Barry McCarthy, who is now Clinkle's chief operating officer.

Clinkle has taken great care to hide details of its product, but with plans to launch at colleges this year, the general public may finally find out what it's been building. When asked if Clinkle can live up to all the buzz it's generated, Liberatore responded:

"Big opportunities with great investors lead to great expectations -- that's a given. My job is to help us be successful in managing our growth in the event that the product lives up to the hype. We'll do everything we can to capitalize on the opportunity we're chasing, and ultimately, our users will decide our fate."