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Obadno Obadno is online now
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I am hoping to see more of this type of news for downtown in coming years.

LifeLock co-founder moving latest startup to downtown Phoenix, plans to hire up to 500


A serial entrepreneur with a checkered past is trying his hand again with a new Valley financial technology startup founded with $2.5 million in seed money.

Phoenix native Robert Maynard Jr. said he is moving his SurchX Inc. startup from Tempe to downtown Phoenix on Dec. 1, taking over the 21st floor of the 2 Renaissance Square building near Central Avenue and Washington Street. SurchX is located in the same Hayden Ferry building by Tempe Town Lake now as was Maynard's best-known and most controversial startup, LifeLock.

The 21-employee SurchX uses software to enable companies to pass credit card merchant processing fees onto customers. SurchX works with companies with between $10 million and $250 million in annual sales, Maynard said.

“Smaller merchants around the world are seeing all this pressure on their margins,” he said. “Merchants are having a terrible time dealing with e-commerce. This problem for merchants is so bad and our solution is elegant, simple and easy to use. It’s the easiest sale I’ve ever made.”

The startup plans to hire up to 500 employees by the end of 2020, adding 20 in December, and ending 2019 with 150 employees, Maynard said.

“We have about $18 billion in transaction volume already in our pipeline, which equates to $12 million in 2018 revenue,” he said. “We’re just getting started. We’re expecting to do between $30 [million to] 40 million in top-line revenue with SurchX in 2019, and well over $100 million in 2020.”

Maynard returns to the Valley business scene with a checkered past. He resigned from Tempe-based LifeLock Inc. in 2007 amid a trail of local and national media reports scrutinizing his past, which included three bankruptcies, a short stint in jail and a 1996 Federal Trade Commission charge of false advertising.

LifeLock co-founder and former CEO Todd Davis has spoken publicly about his company’s past mistakes, including LifeLock being forced to pay $113 million to settle long-running litigation with the Federal Trade Commission over complaints the company made deceptive claims about its services. In 2016, LifeLock also paid an $80 million-plus settlement to consumers who say the identity theft protection company made deceptive and unfair statements about its service.

LifeLock was eventually sold to Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) in February 2017 for $2.3 billion.

Maynard had early success as the founder of Internet America, an early internet service provider, which he sold. His second company, Dotsafe, provided internet filtering. It folded in 2001 after Maynard said he became ill with what was eventually diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

In 2007, the Phoenix New Times reported Maynard lied about his past, and he resigned from his LifeLock position soon after. He later said electronic convulsive therapy he underwent because of his disorder affected his memory, claiming he did not remember his past indiscretions.

Maynard resurfaced in Hawaii, starting the Kandoo ocean adventure business in Waikiki, which folded after encountering financial problems. He also served in the Marines as a combat engineer and in the Army as a commissioned officer.

According to Maynard, his companies have returned nearly $7 billion worth of capital value to investors, created more than 2,000 jobs and sold more than $10 billion worth of goods and services.

Maynard said he is an "experienced and successful serial entrepreneur" who has "built a reputation as an 'earner' for" his investors.

"I also happen to live with bipolar disorder," Maynard said. "That means my life has been split between big wins and catastrophic losses. It has also been a bit messy, which is the norm for people with my illness."

Maynard said he has talked extensively with his leadership team, employees and investors about his illness.

"They know what symptoms to look for, some have open access to my treatment team, including my psychiatrist, and I have instituted internal controls so that no one person, not even I, can put the company in jeopardy with irrational behavior," he said.

"The best testament to my abilities and character is the long list of longtime teammates and investors, who have been with me throughout my career through all the ups and downs," Maynard said. "They have stuck by my side throughout the trials and support me every step of the way."

Francine Hardaway, a local tech entrepreneur who has consulted with Maynard during the past three months, said she is working with him because she doesn't want there to be a stigma against mental illness.

"When I first started to work with him, he made me talk to his father, Todd Davis, and a whole bunch of other people that have worked with him for a long time," Hardaway said. "There isn’t one single person who hasn’t said to me, 'I wish this man the best and I’d work with him again.'"

SurchX is Maynard’s sixth company, which was started in November 2016 in his Scottsdale home, he said.

“I’m building it in Phoenix because I really want to see a vibrant venture market here,” said Maynard, who earned a finance degree at Northern Arizona University.

The startup may be eligible for up to $4.4 million in grants from the Arizona Commerce Authority, including $3.6 million in a quality jobs tax credit and $800,000 for its job training program.

That money would be used to support SurchX’s launch and expansion downtown, according to the company. An ACA spokeswoman said the company has not yet applied for any incentives.

Maynard has raised $2.5 million to date from former co-workers and investors as well as friends and family, he said.
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