How Peer-to-Peer Payment Pioneer Venmo Grew Up and Got Serious
By: Fast Company
It started with a simple dare: All Mike Linshi had to do was buy a certain shirt from a store nearby and wear it.
The bet was offered up in the easy evening hours after a music and innovation festival in Brooklyn two years ago. There was just something so funny about the thought of Linshi in that particular shirt that Iqram Magdon-Ismail and Andrew Kortina, cofounders of the New York–based peer-to-peer payment app Venmo, bet their colleague $50,000 he wouldn’t wear it. The sum was set high “just to shock him a little bit,” Magdon-Ismail recalls. And anyway, they had the cash: Venmo had been acquired for $26 million three years earlier by the payment processor Braintree, which was then bought by PayPal for $800 million.
Of course the shirt was obtained and worn, and Magdon-Ismail and Kortina were good as their word. They transferred the money on the spot, with an extra $50,000 going to the Venmo engineer who raised their account limits to make it possible. The next day, after the haze of the previous night wore off, the money was returned.