We’ve just wrapped our latest ReadWriteMix event with Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf—and I'm very pleased that we can already announce our next event, featuring PayPal president David Marcus. We'll sit down on January 21 to talk about the future of money.
I first met David a few years ago when he was an entrepreneur running Zong, a mobile-payments startup. After years covering payments and watching mobile products flop, I was a skeptic—but he won me over with keen insights on how mobile usage was changing (not to mention a product that actually worked).
PayPal saw something in Marcus, too, and bought Zong in 2011. He became president in 2012, after Scott Thompson left to run Yahoo—oops!—and swiftly became the most dynamic leader the eBay-owned payments company had seen in a decade. He bought other startups, bringing more entrepreneurs like himself into the company. The most recent deal, the high-profile $800 million acquisition of Braintree, may become final by the time we sit down.
More importantly, he’s slimmed down PayPal’s confusing array of retail-payments offerings to focus on its mobile app, which promises to be the way you pay your restaurant tab, your delivery orders, and your in-store purchase. And he scored Uber as a customer, finally making PayPal a player in the key business of powering payments in other apps. (The Braintree deal will also boost PayPal’s prospects here.)
One thing I particularly admire about Marcus is the way he jumps on Twitter to resolve customers’ problems. That's a friendly face that merchants and consumers didn't see for years, to the detriment of PayPal's reputation. By cutting down on abrupt account freezes and resolving fraud more quickly, he's hoping to persuade people that PayPal has changed its ways.
He's also making waves with his predictions for 2014. Here’s one I find particularly interesting: Bitcoin, Marcus says, will struggle to become accepted as a currency in the mainstream. Instead, it will be a “store of value”—a form of digital gold, in other words, which is attractive to people who live in economies with unstable currencies, but whose value fluctuates too much for ordinary consumers and merchants to use for daily transactions.
So there's a lot to talk about. Please join us on January 21, 2014, as ReadWriteMix returns to Say Space. We’re making tickets available now, but we expect them to go fast—so reserve your seat today.
We’re planning our ReadWriteMix schedule now. If you'd like to propose a speaker, please get in touch with me.
Sign up on Eventbrite for ReadWriteMix, an evening of drinks and conversation at Say Space in San Francisco, hosted by ReadWrite editor-in-chief Owen Thomas.