Yesterday, we reported that Nymi President, Andrew D’Souza, and Director of Platform, Balaji Gopalan, were no longer with the company. According to our sources, the reasons for their departure related to difficulties shipping final hardware of the Nymi Band, as well as its intended market.
Earlier today, BetaKit had the opportunity to speak with both Andrew D’Souza, as well as Nymi CEO and founder, Karl Martin, to get more detailed context for the changes.
Martin confirmed that following its recent $14 million Series A round, Nymi made a concerted shift to focus on enterprise rather than consumer markets. However, Martin strongly contested any divisions between Nymi’s board of directors and its executive team on the decision.
Martin indicated that the departure of D’Souza was a “logical progression from this strategic choice.”
“The management, which includes Andrew, late last year, made a strategic decision to focus on enterprise opportunities,” Martin said. “This is something the board completely supported, and quite honestly it was a very obvious thing for the company. As a startup, we need to be market driven.
“So that decision was made late last year with complete alignment across the management and the board. It was an obvious route to follow market needs. The pull was very strong.”
Martin indicated that the departure of D’Souza was a “logical progression from this strategic choice.” It was a sentiment that, for his part, D’Souza backed.
“From my perspective, when I joined the company I came here to do consumer business development and consumer marketing,” D’Souza said. “The work we’re doing around payments, and some of the other things we were working on, that was the stuff I was excited about.”
D’Souza told BetaKit that once the shift to enterprise security and enterprise IT was clear, he recognized it was necessary for a change, stating “I don’t get fired up selling to enterprise security guys.”
D’Souza also stated that he is “100% behind” the decision, calling it the “absolute right direction for the company.” D’Souza told us he will continue to perform some sort of advisory role with Nymi, while using the departure as an opportunity to “start the company I’ve been meaning to start for a long time.”
“For me to continue to be here is not really fair to the company, is not really fair to the team, is not really fair to the investors, or myself,” he said.
D’Souza’s departure was not the only implication of Nymi’s new strategic focus, as changes were made to its platform team as well (for his part, Gopalan has nothing but kind words for Martin and the Nymi team). Martin told BetaKit that the shift required Nymi to be “super focused” on delivering solutions for enterprise customers rather than developing a robust app ecosystem. While internal resources will still be committed to supporting developer work, “the company as a whole is ultimately focused to get those enterprise customers working with killer applications.”
“We’re not looking to throw it out there through Best Buy and find we’re not meeting people’s needs.”
Of course, to do that, Nymi needs enterprise customers. Martin indicated that the company is currently in the process of securing 6-month pilot partnerships, some of which should be announced soon. Martin was unwilling at this point to discus in detail the status of previously announced partnership trials with RBC and MasterCard (the latter being an investor).
“We don’t want to yell at the top of the mountain until we’re really sure we have something they’re going to love,” he said.
So how does this strategic customer change affect the rollout of Nymi’s hardware? It’s a difficult question to answer.
Previously, Nymi was tracking an early 2015 rollout of the Nymi Band, with a developer (and thus consumer) focus in mind. Martin told BetaKit that “we’re manufacturing in volume so that we can service both the demand for the discovery kit and enterprise customers,” but that statement requires parsing.
First, those interested in purchasing the Nymi Band Discovery Kit, which features final hardware, will still be able to do so. Martin was quick to state that, “we’re not making a broad push to anyone to buy it, because we feel it’s still an early product. We’re taking a phased approach – we’re not looking to throw it out there through Best Buy and find we’re not meeting people’s needs.”
However, when I asked Martin how many of the 10,000 Nymi Band pre-orders had been satisfied, he had this to say:
“With the Nymi Band Discovery Kit (NBDK), we have a qualification process for pre-orders who wish to have their pre-order fulfilled as an NBDK. We’ve been pretty selective to make sure that people know that they’d be getting a developer product. To that end, we have greater demand than we can immediately fulfil, and we have so far shipped over 600 NBDKs.”
In addition, while Nymi is aggressively pursuing pilot partnerships with major enterprise customers, those partnerships have yet to begin, and are set to run for six months. If all goes well, and Nymi truly delivers on something its new customer base will love, it will still be the second half of 2015 before the company can capitalize on the results of its strategic shift.