The Chevy Chase-based venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates got fantastic news yesterday when one of its portfolio companies out of Chicago, Braintree, was purchased by e-commerce giant eBay for $800 million. Braintree, a payments company focused on producing and offering APIs to retailers for online sales, is slated to be integrated into the PayPal model in hopes that eBay can be at the forefront of the online payments world, specifically on smartphones.
NEA helped fund Braintree's Series B round of $35 million late last year, according to Finovate. Though Braintree, who was processing more than $12 billion in payments a year, exited the market very quickly, NEA's investment showed to be a good bet, as the firm said on its blog yesterday.
"We saw a company with great leadership and tremendous momentum that was right at the nexus of several emerging and disruptive trends – the significant rise in ecommerce and mobile commerce payment volumes, the mass proliferation of smartphones and tablets that are being used in commerce applications, and the market pull for an easy to use, secure, and frictionless checkout experience," wrote Ravi Viswanathan, an NEA general partner."The acquisition by eBay enables Braintree to combine with PayPal, a division of eBay, to complement and enhance PayPal’s current offerings such that the joint effort will accelerate PayPal’s global market leadership in payments. In a market that is forecast to grow more than three-fold by 2017 to about $1.3 trillion worldwide, that’s a big deal."
There's no doubt that the reason eBay sought after Braintree was for its mobile success since its 2007 founding. Venmo, the mobile app that allows people to send money to each other for free, was owned by Braintree and will likely play an integral role in aiding PayPal. Additionally, Braintree's API platform was used by several different major e-commerce players like LivingSocial, Uber and Airbnb.
“Braintree is a perfect fit with PayPal,” said eBay Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe, in a statement according to BusinessWire. “Bill Ready and his team add complementary talent and technology that we believe will help accelerate PayPal’s global leadership in mobile payments. Together, we expect that PayPal and Braintree also will accelerate our leadership in supporting developers who are creating innovative solutions for next generation commerce startups.”
Braintree CEO Bill Ready agreed that the acquisition was huge. “The alignment with PayPal means Braintree can continue to push the boundaries of innovation while expanding into new markets with increased speed and confidence," he said in the statement. "Our current customers and developer community can expect the same level of support and partnership they’ve always enjoyed, coupled with more resources.”
And overall, that means a win for NEA. First, said Viswanathan, "At NEA our goal is to partner with companies that will disrupt big markets and become leaders in those markets," and they did just that. But secondly, they got in on something big, bet some decent money on it and will be rewarded very kindly for doing so. It's gonna be a nice payday for NEA.