Will 2023 be the year Stripe goes public?

27 Jan 2023

Stripe co-founder and CEO Patrick Collison on stage. Image: Stripe

Founders Patrick and John Collison have long eluded questions about the Silicon Valley start-up going public, but their true stripes have now been revealed.

While the prospect of Stripe going public has excited people in the tech world on both sides of the Atlantic for several years, we may now be closer than ever to finally witnessing it.

Rumours of Stripe, the Irish-founded global payments company that was valued at $95bn at its peak, contemplating debuting on public markets first arose when a Reuters report in July 2021 suggested the start-up had secured a law firm to help prepare for its stock market debut.

It had long been anticipated that Stripe, which was established in 2010, might mark its 12th year in business with a 2022 market debut. And while that was not meant to be, largely because of general economic instability last year, 2023 might be the year public Stripe stocks materialise.

The Wall Street Journal reports that founders Patrick and John Collison told employees yesterday (26 January) that executives have decided to either take the company public or allow employees to sell shares in a private-market transaction within the next 12 months.

Stripe has reportedly hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to advise it on the process – marking perhaps the most concrete step the company has taken so far to float on the market.

Ambiguous stance

While still a private company, key details on Stripe’s revenue and profitability have been kept under wraps over more than a decade in business.

What we do know is that Stripe processes hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions each year through a massive client list that includes Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon, Uber, Zoom, among many others.

The Collison brothers, who are originally from Limerick, have long been ambiguous about their stance on a Stripe direct listing or traditional IPO.

When asked about plans to go public in 2021 in a Bloomberg Television interview, president John Collison said Stripe still had no plans for an IPO. “We’re having lots of fun building Stripe. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t someday but right now we have no plans,” he said.

Earlier that year, the company became one of the most valuable US start-ups in the world after raising $600m in a March funding round that valued Stripe at $95bn. However, by July last year this valuation lost more than $20bn and came down to $74bn amid market downturns.

Things didn’t get any better as in November 2022, Stripe had to lay off 14pc of its global workforce to prepare for “leaner times” as market uncertainty continued and the company could no longer sustain the employee numbers given a boost during the pandemic.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic