Patrick and John Collison’s Silicon Valley start-up Stripe has the potential to transform the plumbing of e-commerce globally and after signing up thousands of businesses large and small around the world they’ve launched the platform in Ireland today.
Ireland is the fourth country – and first Eurozone country – in which Stripe has launched at this stage and intends to shake up the established order of payment solutions currently “dominated by lumbering incumbent banks.”
The company’s technology provides functionality to make it easier for website owners to enable transactions, getting rid of the long drawn-out shopping cart approach and making payments as seamless and easy as buying apps or content on an iPhone.
Limerick natives John (23) and Patrick (24) formed a start-up called Shuppa in 2007, which later became known as Auctomatic. The company attracted funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Y Combinator and just a year later, Canadian firm Live Current Media acquired Auctomatic for $5m (€3.2m). John was 17 and Patrick was 19 at the time.
The brothers’ two-year-old Silicon Valley-headquartered company raised its first round of funding of US$2m in March 2011 from investment 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. The company now employs almost 62 people in Silicon Valley and around the world.
A report in May by SecondMarket.com listed Stripe as ranking alongside Pinterest as one of Silicon Valley’s rising stars, giving it an informal valuation of US$1bn.
Towards frictionless e-commerce
A beta launch earlier this year saw a number of companies, including Boards.ie, MOR Solutions and PCH deploying the technology.
“Today marks the moment where it’s open for anyone in Ireland to use – they can come to Stripe, activate instantly and be able to accept online payments within 10 minutes of setting it up,” Patrick Collison told Siliconrepublic.com.
“It completely replaces obsolete merchant account infrastructure.”
Collison explained that Stripe processes millions of dollars in payments every day and it is used by thousands of businesses around the world, including top tech names Rackspace and Foursquare.
“The key is to make e-commerce fluid,” he explained, “and not to be overbearing. It’s about providing people with tools they can use to create a commerce experience that makes sense, be that App Store-style frictionless billing or more traditional e-commerce.”
Aware of all the publicity they’ve attracted since they were teenagers, Collison wanted to insist that people understand that Stripe has been very much a product of all the people who’ve worked on it – the sum of all the parts – and not just about himself and John.
“There’s always this great temptation out there to focus on the founders. John and I may have been chronologically first on the Stripe team but everything we’ve achieved has been built with others — a great bunch of folks who’ve joined us along the way. I always get uncomfortable when people make it all about John and myself, it’s really down to the people we work with.
“Certainly we learned enough to get started, but ultimately we hope we’ve created a great environment where the best people in the world want to join us and do these things.”
While questions have been raised as to whether the brothers might steer Stripe towards an IPO or a trade sale, Collison dismisses such talk. He and John are in it for the long term.
“We’re only coming to our second anniversary post-launch. Talking about IPOs and stuff at this stage is like trying to decide the career paths of four-year-olds.
“We’ve built a really good product, it’s scaling so well and is available to all the people who want to use it. And that’s what we want to focus on for the foreseeable future.”