Powa Technologies, the mobile payments company founded by serial entrepreneur Dan Wagner, is growing faster than the price of a central London flat at the moment. It is now worth $2.68bn (£1.6bn) after buying Hong Kong rival MPayMe for $75m with 3% of its pre-acquisition stock.
Just last year Wagner raised $100m in Series A funding (one of, if not the, biggest seed rounds ever), which valued his company at around $400m. Wagner told MT in April, ‘No investor [in the UK] would have had the balls’ to make that investment. Any who did think about it and bottled it will be kicking themselves, as it is now worth $650m, according to a company statement.
The deal values MPayMe, which has 120 employees, at 2.5 times its revenue and will give Powa access to new technology and big customers. Those include Pitney Bowes, which issues 80% of US utility bills and 50% of those in Europe. That means QR code-esque ‘PowaTags’ (which you scan with a mobile to pay instantly) will be on 23 billion utility bills.
Retailers ranging from Argos, Laura Ashley and French supermarket giant Carrefour have already signed up to Powa’s technology, which is likely to be rolled out in time for Christmas.
Powa may also make more acquisitions, to add to its points of sale business. 'We still see opportunities for momentum through acquisitions... We have a very deep well of capital resources,' Wagner told MT, although he said he had no specific targets or budget yet.
Rumours that Powa will float soon continue to swirl, but Wagner said any IPO would 'certainly not [be] this year'. 'Our focus right now is the extraordinary momentum we’re getting in the business,' he said.
Wagner had mooted moving to the role of chairman if the company floated, telling MT last year, 'maybe I'm not the best person to run a public company'. However, he said his past experience, which included being maligned for wearing a duck waistcoat at the flotation of his information business MAID back in the 1994, was maybe 'a little old and antiquated' now.
'Maybe I’ll decide to stay as CEO,' he said. 'At the moment I’m enjoying running this business. It's growing fast and it's really fun.'
It’s certainly a pretty neat turnaround for Wagner. Most of MAID (renamed Dialog and lambasted in the FT as 'Dial-a-Dog') was sold to Thomson (pre-Reuters) and Wagner then had to build up his new e-commerce technology company Venda from next to nothing, when the dot-com crash hit just a few weeks later.