PayPal acquires Harper Reed's Modest just months after emerging from stealth

Sam Dewey

File 50714

There’s something refreshingly Midwestern about e-commerce giant PayPal.

It might be that PayPal co-founder Max Levchin is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Or it could be their $800 million acquisition of Chicago darling Braintree (a few years before PayPal split from eBay just last month).

Throw in today’s announcement that PayPal has acquired Modest, the reclusive brainchild of former Obama campaigners Harper Reed and Dylan Richard, and it’s not hard to see why.

Modest, which very quietly launched earlier this year after two years in stealth mode, embeds “buy” buttons directly into apps, enabling shoppers to make a purchase without ever having to leave an app. Modest brings that technology — along with other payment expertise like shipping and inventory management — to Braintree’s product suite.

“Contextual commerce is an exciting opportunity for PayPal, representing a new frontier for commerce that is rapidly growing,” said Bill Ready, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Merchant and Next-Generation Commerce at PayPal in a blog statement. “The acquisition of Modest will help us do amazing things in this area, faster than ever before. For merchants, this means PayPal will be able to offer a complete commerce solution (payments and order management) to help them add contextual commerce channels to the ways that they sell to their customers. For consumers it will mean seamless, simpler, and safer ways to buy the things they want, anywhere they discover them.”

Reed served as the chief technology officer of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and Richard was a lead engineer. In the years following the election, Reed and Richard have emerged as two of Chicago’s premier authorities in tech.

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Modest employees — including both Reed and Richard — will be onboarded to the Braintree team at PayPal.

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