The vision statement of the Wikimedia foundation (who run Wikipedia) is;

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.

The sum of all knowledge, free, for every human.

Wikipedia have scale challenges – they’re the fifth-most-visited property on the web – but under the hood their technology is comprised of widely-used open-source projects. They use a PHP-driven content system, MySQL databases and lots of caching.

Rather than the tech, it’s that vision that makes them the most significant product on the web.

The technical innovation that companies like Google and Twitter have achieved is staggering; Indexing all of the web’s content and making it searchable in milliseconds, for example, or operating a global real-time communications network.

Incredible technology from behemoths that were once tiny startups.

A USB memory stick isn’t cutting-edge technology, but the whole Korean-language Wikipedia is just over 1Gb zipped, and fits nicely on a memory stick which can be attached to a balloon and sent over North Korea, sailing over the firewall on the breeze. Wikipedia makes this kind of vital information activism possible.

Sometimes it’s not the tech that makes the startup: it’s the vision.



Sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics and examine the core reasons behind moving your startup in a particular direction.

Here’s some core truths behind our vision for Droplet:

  • There is a need for an alternative, ethical approach to payments (and banking)
  • That transaction fees are doomed and won’t be around for long
  • Software + the internet will always shift the balance of power away from the establishment
  • Mobile is a great platform for everyday habitual behaviour: including payments

As a startup grows, it’s not long before the “fog of war” descends and the day-to-day can begin to distract you from your purpose.

A list like this reminds me what we’re doing and why.

A plea to developers: help reboot payment

We’ve got a fantastic iOS app called Droplet that lets you pay people, real shops as well as your friends, without transaction fees. We’re also launching on Android too in the next few weeks.

For our customers, we’re all about the app – it’s the only way they interact with our product and experience our service.

We only really offer our customers a few functions: top-up, make a payment, view merchants and transactions. But from those handful of functions, there’s a world of subtle complexity that the simple experience belies.

So in reality, we’re much more: we’re a robust, scalable, always-on platform for making payments over the web.

If a customer makes a payment, it has to work. Every time. No mid-payment failures, no unreachable endpoints, no downtime. All the while keeping the service incredibly fast and bank-grade secure.

It’s an enormous challenge for a big financial institution, let alone a 10-person startup.

We’re looking for talented developers to join our funded startup and take on this challenge.

The task is a big one, but in return we offer a degree of freedom and respect for engineering as a discipline that you won’t find in many companies:

  • Work to your own agenda, anywhere, any time. Get great stuff done, and we don’t mind how you do it.
  • Collaboration, mentoring and support from our world-class team.
  • An employee share option scheme so you can join in the success of Droplet as we grow.

Our plan is to extend down into the ‘financial stack’ layer-by-layer, because we believe that the openness, freedom and power of the web can be applied to banking, finance and payments. Not only is this desirable; it’s inevitable.

We’re rebooting payment. Join us:

We’re doing for payments what MP3 did for CDs

If you think of the internet as just a series of pipes; then it’s what you push down those pipes that matters.

We used to buy CDs, but as MP3 compression and home internet connection speeds matured simultaneously, it became more convenient (and cheaper) to deliver music over the internet.

Voice-over-IP (like Skype) means that long-distance telephone calls, once charged at a premium by telecoms firms, are now merely data packets transmitted across the internet – just the same as any other data.

Meanwhile, every time you swipe your credit card, pay online, or use a cashpoint – every time your local coffee shop pays cash into their own bank account – the incumbent financial system makes money with transaction fees.

We started Droplet with a simple idea: that moving money should be free. We route transactions over the internet (fully encrypted, of course) – so each payment is nothing more than data moving through the dumb pipes.

This lets us offer cost savings to our merchants, and convenience and security to our users.

We’ve exposed a truth that the banking industry aren’t ready to face up to yet: that moving money is free. After all, your current account balance is just a number in a database.