The trio planning to bring the internet currency Beenz to New Zealand has cancelled its plans.
Aucklander Anthony Ford says the company he set up with two partners, Trinity Ventures, which announced the representation last September, made the decision to pull out of representing Beenz here when they grew concerned at the downturn in both US and local budgets for marketing consumer e-commerce products.
The decision not to set up Beenz.co.nz was made just before Christmas and before they made any significant financial commitment, Ford says. It was also made only days before Beenz’ corporate head office decided to lay off a large proportion of its 260 staff and close several offices worldwide.
Beenz, a loyalty-based currency earned by visiting certain merchants websites that can be redeemed for goods, was founded with $US89 million of venture capital from backers including Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Softbank.
Beenz.co.nz was to have operated under the Australian office, which had claimed 270,000 users. Beenz Australia laid off 15 staff last week with a skeleton staff of three left to oversee the closure of their local site and the migration of some merchants to the head office’s site. Beenz globally plans to shift its focus from online ventures to incentive schemes aimed at brick and mortar retail store customers.
Trinity Ventures has ceased trading while the three, Ford, Australian David Sowerby and Zimbabwean Conor O’Beirne, have pursued their own interests. The three met while finishing MBAs at Trinity College in Dublin.
They had also planned to set up a localised version of BePaid.com, a US-based online ad service that pays internet users to view full-screen commercials. But BePaid went under before Christmas also, along with a number of consumer-based ventures, after it failed to raise a next round of capital.
Ford says he “still has faith in the concept “of the online channel but says he has no plans to revisit such a venture.