‘It’s Just Lazy’: Current’s CEO Lashes Out at Facebook’s Calibra for Its Similar Logo
Facebook announced ambitious plans this week for a new digital currency called Libra along with a subsidiary, Calibra, that will offer digital wallets for storing Libras. Now Facebook is facing criticism for a related detail: Calibra’s new logo looks a lot like an existing one from fintech startup Current.
Current, which calls itself “the bank for modern life,” posted a tweet Wednesday that juxtaposed its own logo with Calibra’s. Current CEO Stuart Sopp, who was at Fortune’s Brainstorm Finance conference in Montauk, N.Y. on Wednesday when someone pointed out the similarity of the two logos, said it made him “furious.”
Both logos feature a tilde refashioned as an abbreviated wave inside a circle. But unlike Current’s multicolored logo, Calibra’s is a single shade of violet. “This is what happens when you only have 1 crayon left,” Current’s tweet said.
“It was a massive shock,” Sopp told Fortune. “I’m deeply unhappy. I know what’s happened here. It’s just lazy, is what it is.”
Four years ago, Sopp says, Current began working with Character, a 20-year-old San Francisco design firm acquired by Japanese ad-giant Dentsu in 2018. Current was working on a debit card aimed at teenagers that their parents can control with a mobile app. It has since expanded into personal checking accounts while expanding its offerings to older customers as well.
Sopp says he worked with Character on the tilde-like logo, which not only evoked the wave, but also drew upon a little-used symbol on computer keyboards. Current uses the circled-tilde logo in the Google Play app marketplace and a logo featuring a square with rounded corners in the Apple App Store.
Meanwhile, the planned Libra currency, designed partly for the billions of people using Facebook’s apps and social network, has a triple-stacked tilde both as a logo and as a currency symbol. The logo for Calibra and its digital wallet will feature a single tilde.
Character’s web site doesn’t identify Current as a client, but it shows Facebook has been a client since June 2018, along with Facebook business units Oculus and Instagram. In July, Character said on its website that it was working on a secret new project that it couldn’t discuss. That was around the time word began leaking in news reports about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency plans.
Facebook and Character didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.
Sopp, meanwhile, says he’s talking with his lawyers about the possibility that Calibra infringed on Current’s trademark. After speaking with Character and Facebook, Sopp says, he’s concluded that the incident isn’t the result of an mere mistake or simple oversight. Rather, he considers it a deliberate attempt by Character to cater to Facebook, among the world’s most powerful companies, at the expense of his own company.
“It encroaches on our mission and what we believe in and our users,” Sopp says. “We’re building our own banking technology. I don’t want this to cause confusion to our customers. And I don’t want to be associated with them if their cryptocurrency is a failure.”
Sopp continued: “They didn’t need to do this. You have billions of dollars. Go and spend some time doing it yourself. Like I did.”