updated 09:15 pm EDT, Mon April 2, 2012
Square nabs latest Google veteran for mobile tech
Square landed a key addition to its ranks Monday after Rob von Behren confirmed through his LinkedIn profile and a conversation with NFC Times that he had left Google for the newcomer. He had co-created Google Wallet, but left the project in January and decided to switch companies after hearing of Square doing "great things" in mobile payments. Von Behren's exact purpose at Square wasn't going to be made public outside of his general position.
The exit would be part of a larger trend within the Google Wallet team. Division lead Osama Bedier has reportedly had "philosophical differences" with some of the team, several of which have left. Other co-founder Jonathan Wall and product leader Marc Freed-Finnegan ended up leaving to found Tappmo, a rival mobile payment effort. A corporate reshuffle may have cost extra positions as well.
The team has reportedly been unsure as to how to expand Google Wallet beyond its current state. With just one official phone, one carrier, and one card provider, actual adoption has been low. Bedier has reportedly been arguing for keeping a more closed system where some Wallet staffers had wanted more flexibility for app writers and payment methods. Rumors have raised the view that Google might try to split deal revenues with carriers to get them to come onboard.
Google didn't address the claims of behind-the-scenes problems and instead wished von Behren success in his new position.
Square isn't expected to tap its new hire's experience with NFC given that its current system is based around a dedicated reader and supporting traditional cards. His experience with mobile apps may play a larger role and could see him expand beyond Android.