29. Stripe

Revolutionizing digital payments

Founders: John Collison, Patrick Collison
Launched: 2010
Funding: $290 million
Valuation: $5 billion
Disrupting: Online/mobile payments, software, credit cards
Rival: Square

The Collison brothers — Patrick and John — started Stripe in 2010 after both had dropped out of college (MIT and Harvard, respectively) several years earlier. The premise: create an online and mobile digital-payments company built from the ground up for the internet age.


They're making good on that idea. Over the past year, the company has doubled to 480 employees and raised venture funding that now values the San Francisco-based company at around $5 billion. Stripe recently signed a deal with Visa to work on digital transactions and security — especially outside the United States, where Stripe is aggressively building its presence.

The company makes money by collecting a swipe fee of 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents for every transaction it processes (similar to what competitor Square charges). Since its start several years ago, the San Francisco-based company has processed billions of dollars' worth of transactions for thousands of companies, including such tech darlings as Foursquare and Lyft, as well as Shopify, Kickstarter and retailing behemoth Walmart. It also processes payments for hundreds of thousands of small businesses.

The company claims that in the past year, 27 percent of Americans have made a purchase in which Stripe was used to process their payment. That's up from less than 4 percent about two years ago. So far, the company has raised $290 million from the likes of American Express, Visa, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.

Coming from a tech perspective, the brothers believe the challenges companies face in using online payment systems are rooted in code and design — not finance. They set out to build a developer-focused, instant set-up payment platform that any company could use and scale to size. Some heavy-hitters believed in their vision. Three of PayPal's founders (Peter Thiel, Max Levchin and Elon Musk) as well as Sequoia Capital were early investors.

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

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