Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The Boku Founders Talk About Mobile Payments, Competitors and More!

While hot start-ups like gaming giant Zynga suck up all the oxygen in the Web 2.0 room, it’s always good to look at those who grease the wheels with the background transactions that make it all possible.

Case in point: Mobile payments start-up Boku, a heavily funded (upwards of $38 million) start-up with some high-profile investors, such as Index Ventures, DAG Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Khosla Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.

Focused on social networks and operated via entering a cell phone number–no credit card required–users can make micropayments for games and other services.

It sounds simple, but the logistics are wrenchingly complex–especially when going global, with various currencies, phones and more–which is why Zynga and others contract out the messy job.

Boku–which got its start by buying up two other start-ups, Paymo and Mobillcash– is in many dozens of countries now, using hundreds of wireless carriers.

Essentially, Boku is trying to be PayPal for the mobile phone, which is something, well, the eBay (EBAY) unit and many other competitors, such as Zong, want to do too.

Here is the video of an interview I did at Boku’s San Francisco HQ last week with CEO Mark Britto and Ron Hirson, SVP of product and marketing, both longtime digital execs, about all this and more:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus