Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison. Courtesy of Stripe.
Stripe made international headlines this week when it stopped processing payments for President Donald Trump’s campaign website following the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol building. The online payment processing company joined a growing list of companies turning their backs on the president, saying on its website users should not accept payments for “high risk” activities, including for any business or organization that “engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence or physical harm to persons or property.”
It’s not the first time Stripe has made headlines for suspending accounts - it also disabled right-wing social media account Gab.com in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in 2018 - but normally it finds itself in the news for different reasons; namely its unusual situation as a more than $36 billion dollar company still classified as a startup.
The financial services and SaaS company was founded in 2011 by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison and is dual-headquartered in San Francisco and Dublin. It operates as a set of payment APIs powering online commerce for businesses of all sizes by providing apps to beat fraud, sending invoices, issuing virtual and physical cards, getting financing, managing business spend, and more.
Since launching ten years ago, the company has grown rapidly and now has more than 2,500 employees based in 14 global offices. Stripe offers more than 135 global currencies and payment methods, has millions of users, and processes hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
After raising $600 million in a Series G funding round last April, bringing its valuation to $36 billion, there has recently been talk of Stripe looking for a $100 billion valuation in a private investment deal. Although most of the information about the negotiations is still private, if true, the deal would make it the most valuable venture-backed startup in the U.S.
At this stage, Stripe is sticking with its focus on growth over profitability, with no immediate signs of an IPO listing, as the pandemic and subsequent mass movement online has boosted that growth.
In the Series G announcement, John Collison said: “We believe now is not the time to pull back, but to invest even more heavily in Stripe’s platform.” And that they did, entering the world of banking in December with a new application called Stripe Treasury.
The team making it happen
Patrick, the CEO, and John, the President, launched Stripe in 2011 after selling their first startup for $5 million when they were aged 17 and 19 respectively.
Patrick dropped out of MIT and John out of Harvard to pursue Stripe through the Y Combinator accelerator, selling the vision of simplicity: making online payments easier. They quickly attracted early stage investors and continued to grow. Not long after launching, Patrick and John approached PayPal alums Elon Musk and Peter Thiel to pitch their vision of increased connectivity and ease. Musk and Thiel became important advisors to Stripe and Thiel has been an investor in the company ever since.
So far, Stripe has avoided going public, with executives saying there is still enormous room for expansion – Collison frequently cites the figure that in normal times, less than 8% of commerce happens online. In the pandemic that has increased, but in Q3 2020 it was still under 15%.
Guiding Stripe’s financials is CFO Dhivya Suryadevara, the much-lauded financial expert poached from General Motors in 2019. Suryadevara joined Mike Clayville, who left Amazon Web Services to become Chief Revenue Officer, and Trish Walsh, who left Voya Financial to become General Counsel, to create a tight team of experts guiding Stripe's financial growth.
At the time, John Collison said Suryadevara was a rare leader who had run an industry-leading leviathan, “but also gets excited about enabling the brand-new products and the yet-to-be invented products, too.”
Also behind those yet-to-be-invented products is CTO David Singleton. Singleton has been with the company since 2017, when he was poached from his role at Google leading the teams behind the smartwatch. As the head of engineering, Singleton is behind everything Stripe does to build its digital financial infrastructure and has a role in all new app development, such as Stripe Atlas and Treasury.
Stripe CEO Patrick Collison has described him as a strategic leader and, “an engineer’s engineer - the kind of person who builds a deep learning-based autonomous remote-controlled car on a weekend.”
Taking the team global
In charge of operations is COO Claire Hughes Johnson, who joined Stripe in 2014 after 9 years at Google. As one of the company’s longest standing execs, Hughes Johnson is a key leader for guiding teams in product development, marketing and customer strategy, leadership and team management, and politics and government.
Recently, Hughes Johnson welcomed Carmel Galvin to Stripe as the new Chief People Officer. Together they will continue to grow Stripe’s team as it expands across the globe – most recently into Africa and with plans to soon get into more of Asia.
Galvin brings more than 25 years of experience to the role, having worked most recently as CHRO and SVP of people and places at Autodesk. Hughes Johnson said she will, “help our global growth and foster a culture that attracts the best talent to deliver on our mission to increase the GDP of the internet.”
Helping to increase global reach will be Chief Business Officer William Alvarado. Alvarado is responsible for managing Stripe’s international expansion, business development, cross-industry initiatives, and strategic partnerships. He has been with Stripe since the year it launched and has a deep knowledge of the business, its foundation, and the direction it is heading.
William Gaybrick, CPO and Head of Payments, has been at Stripe for five years and has become one of the key figures in developing products and guiding the company’s stock of APIs as it continues to expand to new economies.
Working on the product strategy is Head of Banking and Financial Products Karim Temsamani. Temsamani was president of Google Asia Pacific for 11 years before moving to Stripe, where he heads teams innovating in the financial tech space, expanding the platform and increasing connectivity online.
In December, Temsamani announced the launch of Stripe Treasury, which enables platforms to embed financial services and allow business customers to easily send, receive, and store funds.
Temsamani said Stripe was changing how banking was done online, “just like we set out to change payments a decade ago.”
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