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Next Facebook could come from Europe: Stripe co-founder

Online payments startup Stripe is "betting big" on the European technology scene, the U.S. company's founder has told an audience in Dublin, predicting that the region could soon create the next Facebook.

Stripe, which earlier this year snagged a $5 billion valuation, is one of the darlings of the Silicon Valley technology scene. The firm provides software that lets mobile apps and commerce sites embed a payments system by adding just a few lines of code.

Many of the 4-year old company's customers are startups that are using Stripe's technology to facilitate payments. Earlier this year, Stripe said it was focusing heavily on Latin America and Southeast Asia where it is looking to expand in 2016.


Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison
Source: Stripe
Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison

But John Collison, one of Stripe's Irish co-founders, said that it's taking a big bet on Europe.

"In Europe we're pretty excited about what a lot of the companies are doing here...We are betting big on Europe," Collison said at the Web Summit conference in Ireland on Wednesday.

"The EU if it were a country, would have the biggest GDP (gross domestic product) in the world, and we think that over time, we will see many successful start-ups coming out of Europe...there's no reason to believe that the next Uber or Facebook should not be coming out of Europe, and so that's why we're setting up...here and we want to help enable that."

UK second-largest market

Europe's technology scene has been growing strongly over the past few years. The continent produced 40 unicorns - companies valued over $1 billion - in the 12 months to June, up from 30 this time last year, according to technology investment bank GP Bullhound.

Countries with strong startups are key for Stripe as they look to get more companies using its technology. Stripe is operational in some European countries such as Ireland and Denmark and Collison revealed that the U.K. is now the company's second-largest market. The startup is also in the second phase of its development in France, Germany and Italy and a number of other EU countries.

'Scratching surface'

Stripe grabbed a $5 billion valuation earlier this year after raising further funds from Visa and aventure-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Sequoia Capital and American Express are existing investors.

The U.S. startup has grown quickly, growing from 10 people at launch in 2011 to 320 employees now. Still, Collison said there is a long way to go for the company in the online payments industry.

"I think if you look at how Stripe is different now versus say 4 years ago when we launched, I think we've started scratching at the surface of the problem and we started building out the company that will hopefully help solve that," the Stripe co-founder said.