I will not join Amazon. The “parent” lets his little GoPago go

The American colossal Amazon has acquired GoPago, the startup created by Italian Vincenzo Di Nicola. “It is like a parent letting his child go”

This article was originally a post on the Corriere della sera website blog Mind the Bridge “Silicon Valley”

Of Vincenzo Di Nicola and his GoPago we wrote in great detail on this blog in an interview long ago in August 2011. The interview concluded with the prediction by Alberto Onetti: “I am positive that you will make it”.

Two years and 4 months have passed since then and the prophecy has come true.

Today, the transaction was officially concluded for GoPago, a company made up of 40 people and 4 years of life, as it becomes part of the company that has recently been re-writing the rules of e-commerce, Amazon.

The terms of the transaction are still “undisclosed” but indiscretions have it that negotiations took months, Google was also interested, and that it was finally concluded with a deal worth millions of dollars”.

It is time to celebrate. Vincenzo is a fantastic, cheerful and daring person. And, as the saying goes, fortune touches those who are audacious.

I have know him for a few years now, we moved to San Francisco around the same time, about ten years ago. He surprises you with his sincerity and humbleness. He is a true product of his land of origin, Abruzzo, with which he maintains a visceral connection. He seems to come from an era that no longer exists. Today, when the news broke of the acquisition I managed to reach him by phone.

During a half hour of conversation a profile of a good person, with strong values and a sincere sense of recognition towards his country of origin (Italy), which only immigrants usually convey, was construed.

 Vincenzo, how do you feel today?

Tired. Excited. And… strange. After years of uninterrupted work on “my” project, abandoning it is like a parent letting his child go when he turns 18.

But your “child” was only 4 years old.

True but they were very intense years. From 2009 to today just about everything has happened. After the entrance of our principle investor (the VC branch of JP Morgan) in 2011 we had a crazy acceleration. We went from 10 to a peak of 70 people in April 2013.

Our mobile payment application now counts more than one thousand installations.

When our spokespeople became well-known figures from the 49ers and Giants (respectively the football and baseball teams of San Francisco) our visibility in the Bay Area went through the roof. And even big companies (starting with Google) started to notice us.

We already talked about the story of GoPago. Could you just remind us again how much of Italy there is in GoPago?

Especially at the beginning there was a lot. As well as myself and the other founder (Leo Rocco, son of Sicilian immigrants) who I met at my time in Stanford precisely because of our common roots, all of the developers were Italian. Including many from Abruzzo like me.

Then, over the years, we had difficulty maintaining the Italians and the team became international, with members coming from all over the globe.

What happened today?

Today, the acquisition transaction of GoPago on behalf of Amazon was officially concluded.

Starting tomorrow our entire development team will be incorporated into Amazon. The GoPago technology will be integrated as a base project by Amazon in the physical retail world, of which I know nothing and, even if I did, couldn’t say anything anyways

And what will you do?

For now, take a good rest. I have decided not to make the move to big corporate. It is an experience I already had with Microsoft and Yahoo. It is bizarre that precisely tomorrow I will have the interview to become an American citizen, after 10 years of residence. Nevertheless, I am thinking that the time may have come to return to Italy. That is where I come from and that is where I want to start my next adventure.

You know, now you have an important responsibility towards a generation of startuppers who in Italy see you as an idol to be followed. Are you up for this?

Look, I feel a really strong sense of recognition towards Italy. For six years now I have been sponsoring a scholarship for a very worthy student from the science oriented high school where I studied.

Just think, even my grandfather (another Vincenzo Di Nicola) immigrated to the United States for 10 years and worked as a miner. Then he went back. And that is also what I want to do.

I want to try to give my contribution, directly, how I can. Starting with my next startup.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it. But until I try I’ll never know.

Maybe I’m too idealistic, who knows, but I often think of Garibaldi who also immigrated to the U.S. But when Italy needed him, he didn’t think twice.

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