PayPal names Rakesh Agrawal director of strategy

Source: PayPal

Blog post from Rakesh "Rocky" Agrawal:

After several years focused on helping small businesses and entrepreneurs understand and respond to the changes in commerce and payments, I'm joining PayPal -- to continue to help small businesses and entrepreneurs.

We're at a big turning point in commerce and the future of money. Back when I made my first sales on eBay in the mid-90s, the process was something like this: I'd go through a lot of work to describe the item, wait seven days for the auction to close, send an email bill to the buyer, wait a week for a money order in the mail, try to determine if it was legitimate, deposit the money order, hand write a shipping label and take it to the store.

The first time I used PayPal, it was like magic. The money appeared in my account minutes after the auction closed. I could ship the next day. Stuff out of my house faster; goods to the buyer sooner.

We're at a similarly magical time. New payments experiences are coming into the market that can reduce friction and drive real value to consumers and merchants. We're seeing new marketplaces like Uber and Airbnb that take advantage of mobile to create new businesses.

While a lot of the industry hype has been focused on technology solutions that technologists love, those solutions often leave consumers scratching their heads to what the real value is. There is a lot of consumer value to be created by taking a customer-centric view of the problem. If a payments solution doesn't save consumers time or money or both, is it really a solution?

PayPal has a lot of unique assets to bring to bear on the problem. First and foremost is scale. Payments is fundamentally a scale business. In 2013, PayPal processed more than $180 billion in transactions; that's roughly equivalent to the GDP of New Zealand.

I've been truly impressed by PayPal's leadership in the last several years and I've had the opportunity to spend time with much of PayPal's leadership, including President David Marcus, VP of Growth and Strategy Stan Chudnovsky and Chief Product Officer Hill Ferguson. All three are dyed in the wool entrepreneurs who want to get things done.

Just as important is the response from close friends who work at PayPal as well as VCs. When I shared the opportunity with them and asked for their input, their advice was that I should absolutely join PayPal.

Part of my role at PayPal will be to help small businesses and entrepreneurs understand online commerce and payments. There is a lot of nuance in commerce that goes beyond just APIs and technical implementation. If you can show a customer how to reduce chargebacks or mitigate fraud and as a result that business is more successful, you become more successful. If you can teach a customer to market better and they sell more, you will be more successful. The best APIs and the prettiest interfaces don't mean much if your customers are still struggling with the rapidly changing retail environment.

That process also goes in the other direction: continuing to educate PayPal on the needs of those merchants and entrepreneurs. I see too many companies that are trying to revolutionize businesses without ever having talked to those businesses.

It's an exciting time to be in commerce and I can't think of a better place to be. 

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