Collison brothers’ start-up Stripe hurtling towards US$1bn valuation?

4 May 2012

Patrick and John Collison

Five years ago the nation of Ireland woke up to the news that two Limerick teenagers had sold their technology company for US$5m. Zoom forward to today and the indications are John and Patrick Collison’s latest venture Stripe has been informally valued at US$1bn and is ranked alongside Pinterest as one of Silicon Valley’s rising stars.

It was a tweet last night by entrepreneur Dylan Collins that diverted me to an article on TechCrunch reporting on the latest report from SecondMarket, a New York-based company that has served as a hub for transactions of pre-IPO Facebook stock.

It claimed that informally Stripe has been tipped as the next Y Combinator company that might be valued at more than US$1bn, following Dropbox and AirnB.

The Q1 ‘Rising Stars’ identified in SecondMarket’s report – calculated by quarter-over-quarter percentage of total watchers (followed by SecondMarket participants) – ranked Pinterest in first place with a 666.7pc increase in watcher activity, followed by Warby Parker with 454.6pc increase, Stripe with a 391.7pc increase, Service Now with a 354.6pc increase and Global Logic with a 231.5pc increase.

According to Stripe’s profile on SecondMarket, Patrick Collison is co-founder and CEO and John Collison is listed as co-founder.

They received their first round of funding of US$2m in March 2011 from investor veterans Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Sequoia Capital and Andreesen Horowitz.

This was followed by a further funding round of US$18m in February 2012 by Sequoia Capital that at the time valued their company at US$100m.

If the latest report by SecondMarket is anything to go by, Stripe is in good company among emerging digital giants like Pinterest and there’s clearly an emerging appetite for shares in the company that may see it move in the direction of IPO.

Rise of a digital giant

John (20) and Patrick (22) formed a start-up called Shuppa in 2007 and it later became known as Auctomatic and attracted funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Y Combinator and was acquired just a year later by Canadian firm Live Current Media for $5m (€3.2m) when the brothers were just 17 and 19, respectively.

Speaking with last year, John Collison explained the thinking behind Stripe: “Stripe was founded to make it easier for people to charge money online. A product we’re creating for developers is to make it easy for developers who build a site to incorporate payments into that. That’s what we’re building.

“When you look at the iPad and how well it’s doing, it has solved the payment aspect. In-app payments – you just go to buy some app, hit download and put in your password and that’s it. But on the web this hasn’t been solved.

“You go to a Wall Street Journal article and then you are redirected to forms and you could get rejected because your zip is incorrect and you don’t have a zip. It’s completely broken, when you think about it,” he said.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years