The founder of notorious failed startup Clinkle is reportedly coming back with a blockchain project

The founder of notorious failed startup Clinkle is reportedly coming back with a blockchain project

lucas duplan


Lucas Duplan, at the height of the Clinkle days.

  • Lucas Duplan, the founder of infamous failed startup Clinkle, is involved in a blockchain company.
  • According to a new report from Wired, the entrepreneur invested in and is linked to Universal Recognition Token.
  • His old startup, Clinkle, raised tens of millions from investors before totally imploding in what's now considered a Silicon Valley cautionary tale.

Clinkle is a cautionary tale in Silicon Valley - a failed startup that raised tens of millions of dollars before crashing and burning spectacularly and publicly.

Now, its founder is reportedly planning a return to tech. According to a report from Wired's Erin Griffith, Lucas Duplan is involved in a new cryptocurrency company.

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The former CEO is apparently now building a venture capital investment fund, and has invested in a blockchain startup. It's called Universal Recognition Token, and describes itself as a "blockchain-based corporate rewards marketplace where employees may auction their gifts, rewards and prizes to the general public."

Duplan isn't listed on the company's website as part of the team, but according to anonymous sources who spoke to Wired, he has previously called himself the founder, CEO (a role now apparently filled by another exec), or CIO. However, he told Wired that while he's "involved" with the company, he didn't create it and "is not employed by the company and is not involved in day-to-day operations."


Duplan did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. His LinkedIn profile makes no reference to the reported venture capital fund or Universal Recognition Token. Instead, he's just listed as the founder of corporate perks system Treats, which is said to be a rebranded version of Clinkle.

During the heydey of Clinkle, it raised $30 million before ever launching a product. The idea was that it was a cutting-edge peer-to-peer payments system that would be easier to use than Venmo or apps like it. When it finally debuted in 2014, though, flashy marketing stunts like a vending machine full of money didn't sufficiently set it apart, and it almost went completely bust in 2015 before pivoting to its current form.

All the while, as Business Insider reported in 2014, the company was plagued by dysfunction, with employees and executives leaving en masse ahead of the product launch. It has since become synonymous with the worst excesses of tech industry hype and hubris - as exemplified by a notorious photo of Duplan holding up wads of cash.