Stripe founders, Irish TikTok lobbyist named as top players in European Tech

16 Jul 2021

Patrick and John Collison with Stripe COO Claire Hughes Johnson. Image: Stripe

The Politico list of 28 ’power players’ featured Irish names John and Patrick Collison, and Caroline Greer.

Stripe founders Patrick and John Collison, as well as TikTok’s director of public policy Caroline Greer, have been named among the most influential people in European tech by Politico.

The publication’s annual list of the 28 “power players” in tech in Europe was published this week, including the three Irish names. Greer was ranked ninth in the “rule-breaker” category, while the Collison brothers came first in the “visionary” section.

Though John and Patrick Collison are Limerick-Tipperary natives, both were US-educated (Harvard and MIT respectively) and founded Stripe in Silicon Valley in 2009. Nonetheless, their company is hugely influential worldwide, having been valued in March at $95bn. This accolade comes as rumours circulate about Stripe preparing for an IPO.

Politico describes the brothers as particularly influential in European tech as they’re “equally at home in Silicon Valley and Brussels” and “in a prime position to influence European policy on boosting their start-ups”. In a letter to The Economist last month, Patrick Collison said that Europe needed “a more streamlined common market, fewer impractical and ineffective regulations (like website cookie banners), better legal treatment of stock options and easier access to visas for highly skilled individuals”.

Stripe is planning a significant expansion of its operations in Europe, announcing in March the planned addition of more than 1,000 jobs in Ireland over the next five years.

Belfast-born Greer began her career at Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation, after an education that included Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. She went on to serve as head of public policy for the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association and IG Group, followed by a top European policy role at Cloudflare. She took over the TikTok role in September 2020 and is based in Brussels.

Greer’s role managing relations between TikTok and international governments is a critical one for the company, as Chinese tech is viewed with suspicion in many places. Last month, the app was blocked in India for reasons of “national security”, while US President Joe Biden only recently reversed the Trump-era ban on the app.

Politico describes Greer’s task of being an emissary to European lawmakers as an “uphill battle”, but says that she is a “seasoned professional”. In a February op-ed, Greer said TikTok would continue to evolve its policies, invest in people and technology, “and work hand in hand with European policy makers”.

The social media giant is currently facing a multi-billion pound lawsuit in the UK over its data collection processes regarding children, even as it has moved to ban suspected underage users. In April, TikTok announced the creation of a European transparency centre in Ireland.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin