With Openbucks investment, Jerry Yang goes a little less Yahoo, a little more show-me-the-money

July 17, 2012

Let one Ms. Marissa Mayer worry about how to turn around Yahoo, the struggling Internet company he co-founded. Jerry Yang,  43, has focused his attention to an increasingly hot field: online payments.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Openbucks has reeled in Yang as its latest investor. He led a $4.8 million funding round for the company, joined by former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel, Greycroft Partners, SV Angel, and others.

Openbucks allows customers to purchase gift cards from companies such as Burger King, CVS and Subway. They can take those cards and use them to purchase things online beyond the products sold by the vendor of the gift card. Right now, that’s gaming services only, but Openbucks says the cash will help it expand to other services and stores.

Openbucks is geared toward people who might not have credit cards or bank accounts and thus can’t easily make online payments, or those who want to keep their online transactions private, a spokeswoman said.

Catering to underbanked consumers is becoming increasingly popular with investors, with lending services like Wonga and ZestCash winning backing from venture capitalists.

Yang has invested in a handful of companies– ranging from social-travel app Jetpac and developer-platform service DotCloud– since stepping down as Yahoo chief executive at the end of 2008. He serves on the board of Yahoo Japan and Cisco Systems, and is a trustee of Stanford University, his alma mater.

 

 

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