Chicago Startup Braintree Bought by PayPal for $800 Million

Braintree, the local company known for developing payment technology to help online businesses process credit card payments, has just been bought by PayPal for a reported $800 million. 

“Braintree is a perfect fit with PayPal,” said eBay CEO John Donahoe in a statement. “[Braintree CEO] Bill Ready and his team add complementary talent and technology that we believe will help accelerate PayPal’s global leadership in mobile payments.”

One of the biggest appeals for the global e-commerce business about the Chicago company is likely to be its Venmo division, which Braintree itself acquired summer 2012. Prior to that, Venmo was a standalone company who came to prominence on the strength of its service, which allows consumers to pay one another for free through an app.

If you’re questioning PayPal’s relevance or what it’s been up to — the gist is that, yes, the service is still colossal online. But companies like Braintree — and some of its competitors, like Stripe — have found a niche for smaller enterprises to take advantage of ecommerce solutions that don’t necessarily require a chainsaw approach when a toothpick will suffice.

All of that’s a colorful way to say: Braintree hit on something that obviously could benefit Paypal, and it’s another indication that Chicago is being looked to by the big boys. Not that businesses wouldn’t be taken on their own merit here in years past, but this is a definitive example to point to that shows this isn’t all talk.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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