Fast is closing its doors: 'We ran out of money'
Affirm has agreed to hire many of Fast's engineers. The VC funding environment "changed significantly," an employee told Protocol.
Co-byline with Benjamin Pimentel
Online payments service Fast announced Tuesday that it is closing its doors, a sudden, stunning end to a seemingly fast-growing ecommerce venture once considered a pandemic darling.
The one-click-checkout software maker will discontinue service of its Fast Checkout on Friday, CEO and co-founder Domm Holland said in a statement. “Sometimes trailblazers don’t make it all the way to the mountaintop,” he said.
Fast ran out of funds after failing to secure additional investment fast enough in what had become a tough fundraising environment, a Fast employee told Protocol.
"We waited too long and we ran out of money," said the employee, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation. Fast "misjudged significantly" the mood in the VC community, he added: "What was acceptable revenue and burn and prospects for growth in the summer of 2021 looks looks very different in April of 2022."
But Fast's pending demise has also created an expansion opportunity for another fintech. Affirm is hiring roughly 130 Fast engineers, the employee said. "With Fast winding down its operations and discontinuing its brand and products, we saw another opportunity to invite a great technology team to join us," an Affirm spokesperson said. The "buy now, pay later" company does not plan to offer a one-click-checkout product like Fast's.
Fast's decision to shut down was first reported by The Information.
The pandemic greatly accelerated innovation in online shopping, and several other companies created their own one-click-checkout systems, including Shopify and Bold Commerce. PayPal was always considered a direct competitor to Fast, while Amazon invented one-click online checkout so long ago that its patent has expired. Apple auto-fills payment information on Macs and iPhones, as does Google's Chrome browser.
But Fast bet that it had a more modern, easier-to-use solution than the competition. Stripe invested $20 million in the company’s series A round in 2020. The company had raised a total of $120 million, with other major investors including Index Ventures and Lee Fixel’s Addition.
The startup had big dreams of being not just a one-click-checkout company, but a one-click identity service. In a 2020 interview with Protocol, Holland said that the service was meant to become an “identity API,” storing critical information about users so they could shop around the internet seamlessly without repeatedly filling out forms with their address and contact information.
Though that meant the company would in theory assemble a valuable database of customer information along the way, Holland told Protocol that the company would never sell it. “Absolutely not, it’s just not our model,” he said.
Protocol link: https://www.protocol.com/bulletins/fast-checkout-shutdown