Payments executive Michael Alan Grossman passed away Thurs., Oct. 22, 2015. He will be remembered for his contributions to the industry's POS equipment, merchant acquiring and alternative lending sectors. He served with distinction in senior positions at Lipman USA, Cynergy Data LLC, Dejavoo Systems LLC and Bizfi (formerly Merchant Cash and Capital LLC).
Mony Zenou, founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dejavoo, hired Grossman in 1993 to manage business development for Lipman USA, an Israeli terminal manufacturer. As he reflected on their 23-year history, Zenou described Grossman as a partner, brother and friend. He acknowledged that they came from different worlds but said their relationship was like their terminals: built to last. Their trademark style of co-management enabled them to grow professionally while bringing value and support to each other, he added.
"We lived our lives in parallel, with our business and our families," Zenou said. "Michael was older than me, but met his wife Lisa later in his life, so our families grew almost identically."
He went on to praise Grossman's tenacity, energy and "anything is possible" attitude that kept him pushing his ideas and visions. Zenou added that Grossman brought the same mindset to his four-year battle with leukemia.
"His illness was just another challenge to overcome, an obstacle to get past so he could move on to create bigger and better opportunities for his family, friends and clients," Zenou said. "He had a way of making people feel special and important. He was a deeply caring person, and that's why this loss is being felt by so many."
Zenou said Grossman considered his family to be his greatest blessing and achievement. "He couldn't have been more proud of his wife, Lisa, and daughters, Rachel and Julian," Zenou said. "His main goal in life was to secure their future, which he spoke about until the very last weeks of his life. He always put them first."
"Mike was my mentor; he taught me everything I know," said Lori Pagnozzi former Vice President of Marketing at Lipman and Dejavoo. She said she began working with Grossman in 2001 and learned everything from how to market terminals to how to eat New Orleans-style crawfish. "He was vivacious; he was his own brand; he was Mike Grossman," she said.
Pagnozzi recalled that Grossman would say "a box is a box" to emphasize that most terminals look and act the same, and most merchants will put any kind of brand on their countertops, she noted. "It's how you sell, and what makes an ISO want to sell," she said. "That's the real differentiator, he would say, and that's how you sell more terminals."
She recalled a particularly memorable exhibit at the Electronic Transactions Association's 2007 conference, where Dejavoo was presenting for the first time to the payments industry. "We didn't have a big budget," she said. "Our booth was a big box that spun. Like Mike always said, 'It's what we do with that box, in partnership with our clients, that makes all the difference.'"
Jacques Breton, former President of the Northeast Acquirers Association recalled Grossman as professional, focused and extremely caring. "He was an icon in our industry and always willing to help people, whether or not they were customers or clients," Breton said. "It wasn't always immediately apparent, but once you got past the tough facade, you'd find someone who'd be willing to give you the shirt off his back."
Stephen Sheinbaum, founder and CEO of BizFi, remembers Grossman as a gentle giant who treated people with respect and kindness. "To know him is to love him," he said. The Green Sheet spoke with Grossman in April 2015, when he served as Vice President of Business Development at Bizfi, which had just launched an automated online platform that Sheinbaum described as "the future of alternative lending." Grossman was upbeat during the interview, noting that online lending had evolved beyond cash advance into "an exciting product that's fully automated and can be used in multiple ways" (see "The evolving online 'lendscape,'" The Green Sheet, May 11, 2015, issue 15:05:01).
The Western States Acquirers Association dedicated its opening general session to Grossman on Thurs., Oct. 29 in Henderson, Nev. "He was a great man," said WSAA President Xavier Ayala. "He touched a lot of people and made a difference in our industry. He will be sorely missed."
Donations in his memory may be made to the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society at www.lls.org.
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