Emily Chang sits down with John & Patrick Collison, co-founders of Stripe, to discuss how the online payment startup grew into a $9.2 billion valued company serving clients such as Amazon, Facebook and Lyft.
United States


00:00:10hi everyone I'm Emily Chang and Mrs Blumberg Studio One point out for the last I don't know maybe three years I've been trying to get Patrick and Jon Collison to sit down with me together so I am really excited about this one they're two brothers from rural Ireland
00:00:26who also happened to found the payments company that's now worth nine point two billion dollars and this is the first big TV interview that they've done together in two thousand ten they co founded stripe aiming to make it dead simple for young small companies to accept payments from
00:00:43all over the world it's grown so fast that now half of all Americans who bought something online in the last year did so without knowing the astride the company now works with customers is because left Facebook an Amazon processing billions of transactions for which it takes a small
00:01:00feat this is by conversation with Patrick and Jon Kalish co founders of stress I've interviewed you both separately many times and I'm so excited to have you here together so we're going to start at the beginning you were born in rural Ireland what was it like growing up
00:01:21the brothers Collison grew up in the countryside right %HESITATION and so it's like a forty minute drive to to get to school in the morning and I know the friends we went to school with lived anywhere close to us and so can we came came home from school
00:01:33we couldn't have gone that run around and play with them and so you know we had to run outside and play with each other at all that's about to do was to to go and read books that we read of the internet or we can get the internation
00:01:44to until I was a teenager and you kind of got used to readers are pricing these websites or whatever you know reading with these products or services %HESITATION you know who's going to scrutinize the fine print odd to be like over you know offer not available in the
00:01:55Republic of Ireland and to have the sensitive steering to the class that this kind of amazing world internet out there but if not all of those opportunities being available are equally available or whatever sort of to get someone in the middle of the countryside in Ireland and so
00:02:09you know in in the way that today stripe is so focused on kind of global access an expansion of opportunity in and out of all those things and it is really was not conscious anyway but sort of now looking back and you know over the last twenty years
00:02:22of my life I think in some ways got that mindset was instilled by again this experience of of sort of growing up in the nineteen nineties Ireland so how did you discover computers first they were sort of free range kids yes attitude and that I'm always struck in
00:02:37in the U. S. by you know people need even finer grains calendar controls for their kids lives notes like half hour increments are not precise enough at and in our case our our parents are pretty busy there both entertainers running businesses they had they had started %HESITATION I'm
00:02:53past my head a lot a lot of tubes to to figure out what we're interested in %HESITATION and and go explore that and so I mean you're the one who started with programming but that was as very self directed is that was not the the plan as it
00:03:05were but when we read a lot into campus the centre routine was an after school go to the library and just get to bolster self to the library it indeed yes I walk to the library and I I get two new books go home with the Bucks go
00:03:19you never brings repeats of the next day armed and that at some point I'm just I happened to get a a programming block %HESITATION and %HESITATION and just write the bucket and read about programming you read about or you had you know I read about the internet the
00:03:34internet for it for years before we had the international kind of programming book %HESITATION and a reticent and talked to seemed awesome %HESITATION and %HESITATION and built my first little kind of Jackie website %HESITATION and was very proud of myself so did you follow older brothers lead here
00:03:49yeah I I simply got into as when I was a teenager and didn't you hack each other's websites or something like that and I think it's an important duty of the of the sixteen year old old older brother to sort of you know %HESITATION help educate the you
00:04:05know slightly younger brother is to know that the the potential security downside sort of work and so I I took that obligation a duty very seriously so you made it to MIT you made it to Harvard and in two thousand nine you both dropped out how do you
00:04:19make that decision and yet Patrick is the %HESITATION safety in numbers I suppose exactly pass without her having dropped out of college twice and but it's not the nine we had we just starting college we have been building all sorts of side projects in internet businesses and things
00:04:35like this and I don't think anyone ever or certainly in our case you don't set out to start a huge thing you don't start so I set out to to to build a large company you set out to solve a problem right and there's this huge disconnect between
00:04:48the fact that all these new internet services and businesses were getting started smart phones had just arrived for like such a land of opportunity and that you actually went to do anything on the on the business side of things actually have money for what you built is like
00:05:00a match the seventies and so I think it was honestly helpful to us one it we're definitely young we started I was and to that we weren't coming from being industry professionals who'd been in the industry for thirty years or anything like that because you can bring a
00:05:13fresh perspective to us on and we started approaching it from the perspective of the people who actually proved to be the most important decision makers of all which is a software developer he's actually building stuff the thing that %HESITATION I think but just dropping out was kind the
00:05:28realization that part we initially conceived of as being sort of that's like a niche product for developers or something solving our problems or something like that was actually you know this kind of lake was actually notion %HESITATION and that the character the problems you're addressing in terms of
00:05:46what is the global economic infrastructure for the international why is it not possible you know even then in two thousand ten too accepts customers payments revenue from internet users anywhere in the world and how did your mom and dad feel about this I mean I know they're entrepreneurs
00:06:04I often wonder again where I in their shoes how would I react but I had that that they're all was %HESITATION sort of you know that the assets can explain our decisions that in just kind of %HESITATION rubber stamp %HESITATION but but then they're all supportive and I
00:06:16I think John and I you know are usually lucky to to to have parents like that so you got and Y. commentator you moved what else are is to build the company walk me through a little bit of the early days of of building your duties of building
00:06:30just want that to avarice %HESITATION it with %HESITATION it was myself and John and %HESITATION you know programming all day every day we want to get up and running with real customers as soon as possible and so be accepted the first repentance tribe in January of two thousand
00:06:47ten %HESITATION only have a couple weeks after trying to work on as an in the feedback loop was just okay what is this business want %HESITATION and how we go implement fastened and let's make it happen as quickly as we can and number ready that's had a second
00:07:00business and so on you say that no one has to fail in order for strike to succeed what does that mean mean doesn't mean you don't think you have any real competitors well I think there's a desire to set these things up as %HESITATION you know straight for
00:07:14his banks or or you know expresses live whenever whenever the narrative about these things a very large fraction of the time when people are building businesses on strike they're building businesses in white space as opposed to replacing another business directly %HESITATION yet at the stop us is very
00:07:31motivating for us is that five percent of global commerce takes place online today at the other ninety five percent is offline and so that's what we mean when we say no it has failed you've done a lot of partnerships with companies that could be perceived as your competitors
00:07:45like apple like Google like visa walking through the strategy we thank all of those consumer payment methods will all be really successful over time what is always been lacking is a platform for the businesses just managing obstruct the complexity of doing business online in twenty eighteen when you
00:08:04talk to a business I'm just what is required even for table stakes at to get up and running managing the payments and the treasury and the regulation and the compliance all the complexity that goes with fast first off take doings in the US and then take doing it
00:08:19all around the world that was hugely heavy lift before hand I think that this really I'm damaging effect for only large companies could do this and they couldn't have it very quickly and you look at what introduces are doing today the business models are changing and are much
00:08:34more global there often getting much more complex like a multi party interaction or something like that and so that's what we're focused on and that's why I mean apple pay has been growing like a weed as a payment method and that's phenomenal first you're listening to my conversation
00:08:51with Patrick and Jon Collison co founders of stripe next we discuss how working with other startups prepare them to serve some of tax biggest businesses and we talk about a possible IPO I'm Emily Chang and you're listening to Bloomberg Studio One point out structural working with smaller businesses
00:09:22for a long time by linger broke the news you are now working with Amazon for working with Facebook Microsoft alley on booking dot com left how does a startup that is growing but still a start up like stripes serve such huge companies I think our success but with
00:09:40some of these larger companies into the company name it's not kind of despite the fact we started working with start ups it is because we start working with start ups in that you know when you start as a start up and especially when you're serving start ups you
00:09:52can't Bamboozle them with like fancy sales materials and like this big marketing campaign or whatever like that is not going to deceived by us they will assess you precisely on the product merits what helps Dan innovate fastest and you know fulfill their ambitions and goals and all the
00:10:06rest as rapidly as possible and what's really punishing as we were forced to build a product that sort of %HESITATION in a van execute as quickly as possible so strike makes money by charging a small fee on every transaction you're not processing billions of dollars a year for
00:10:22hundreds of thousands of companies taking payments worldwide your reportedly valued at nine point two billion dollars you phrase four hundred fifty million dollars in funding some analysts say evaluation is it justified and we've certainly seen companies going to the public markets that haven't been able to hit the
00:10:38market cap that they raised at privately do you have any concern that you won't be able to hit that mark I think we're certainly all this paranoid that we need to execute strongly to actually meet the potential stripe bust your **** and kind of does the potential market
00:10:54size that support that kind of valuation absolutely many times over because again the the entire economy is so vast and so much smaller than it will be if we actually had the good infrastructure do you support the scene strive as a public company Sunday quite possibly on but
00:11:12the way we've always thought about ourselves is that when such an expansion phase were so far from reaching kind of the the plateau that sigmoid from things going to stabilize and you know the whole business becomes predictable I mean I was in Asia I'm back last weekend man
00:11:30there's just like such vast opportunity there for for every internet business sort of %HESITATION at stripe included on that I guess we're just so fixated on making sure how do we ensure that sort of a strike is doing and and the rest of Europe and Asia and Latin
00:11:45America and so on that like we're really capitalizing on on on the opportunities there and will then give backs off from that to you know whatever the rights of long term you know structure the company is yeah we'll we'll we'll finish it within that speaking of what's happening
00:11:57more broadly you know work in a world of great political and economic uncertainty with president trump being elected with brags it with you know Facebook an apple and Google you know on the other hand sort of squelching all of the smaller companies and in a way you could
00:12:14say squelching innovation could that hurt stripe given that you depend on business is getting started when you zoom action I guess they're just take stock of sort of what's happening on a global basis the number of internet connected to disk users and and people in the world continues
00:12:32to rise incredibly quickly and of course in around the world's middle classes are rising in a hundred thousand people live in poverty every day right and so I think on a global basis the kind of the market sizes and the opportunities that %HESITATION Sir presented for people who
00:12:49want to do something you are want to kind of build something significant I think those opportunities have never been greater and you know there's always been concerned that with the kind of the particular giants of the day or sort of overly dominant and and kind of might %HESITATION
00:13:03exercise some of this force and generally speaking you know those giants have have only prevail first of a particular window right now we have to conserve Mike's up in the nineties we had to write IBM before that and so on right and so I think that they're always
00:13:16been sort of pre eminence technology companies and I don't see anything can have distinctly different about that that that the current generation coming from Ireland you know what do you think of the fact that it is it concerning I am concerned by the general trend we're seeing it
00:13:33in a in a number of countries around the world towards more inward looking and I'm more transient in part because I don't think it's the global long term trend Christ at it it has been a mistake historically to bet against more global integration or to assume that people
00:13:50you know they will not be more migration of people will not be more migration of culture is one of the more migration of the goods and services and things like that I don't think things like breaks that are going to change that fact you both spent time with
00:14:00president Obama as the trump administration takes things in a different direction slide towards protectionism you know what are your biggest concerns we benefit from this such %HESITATION mazing set of tail winds right at in that that there's never been more people employed in the west %HESITATION at any
00:14:19time in the past the global inequality is falling like just to do it there's so much kind of good that happening that I think %HESITATION yeah I I there are some things that are alarming and bad that is happening argue absolutely I but I I guess was going
00:14:36to go is that to I think when you really do matter look at the guy the full time series here I think almost all of the major trends are going in the right direction and so then what concerns me is water that tail events that could really jolts
00:14:50these off course it's not clear and just how much influence %HESITATION a single person a single country can have against %HESITATION %HESITATION all these broader trends but but but note that that that is what gives me concerned that's right confound is Patrick and Jon Collison up next why
00:15:09straight backed off big points and I asked him about the unique approach they're taking to diversity finally Chang and Mrs Blumberg Studio One point now crypto currency is all the rage right now and strike initially accepted but quien but recently stopped you at all concerned that stripe will
00:15:41be on the wrong side of history with that decision we're absolutely open revisiting this at the time you made a decision it was trending toward being a digital still at the store value I think it's a valuable thing to exist in the world to know I genuinely wish
00:15:52them the very best with that right it just it works less well for use case and this wasn't going to so much like this is where we want to be the arbiter we just look at the data and like it was declining rapidly in use the payment method
00:16:04if it starts increasing again as the paramedics to ensure great what what what will go back well at it so thick client cryptocurrency is it hype is it reality is it above all our determination was fast becoming was not a good payment methods which is very different add
00:16:18you know discussing the crypto currencies generally because the value was shifting so dramatically what happened because the the the speed and cost of even just posting transactions on the coin network was the main thing so we remain fascinated by crypto currencies from that from a technology point of
00:16:34view and just the general speed of execution the space I see tons of companies in terms of people getting distracted by was vanity projects have you know we'll put this database on the blockchain or things like this because people are not really wedded to in the in the
00:16:49technical details and I I'm what's necessary there's a concern at that point and blockchain pioneers are still mostly young and mostly male this as the tech industry is grappling with a big diversity problem if the tech industry doesn't start doing a better job including people of all backgrounds
00:17:06what are the consequences the tech industry has to be a place where people of any background or any demographic or you know whatever origin can really thrive and there's been some big missteps on that front that yeah tract the prominent headlines and and rightly so people are paying
00:17:26a lot of attention just to to Silicon Valley and how it is that we do things here and it's going to really rebuild ripple effect around the world and so I think for myself and John we really try to start at home as it were and and you
00:17:39know if we can't build a company and a culture an organization that we can really be proud of %HESITATION and that we can really feel good about it and that again for people of any background can really thrive that I think we just we have not achieved anything
00:17:55about you stripe you know you you guys have some really interesting things you have an open floor plan to people changed desks every so often and can meet new people gender neutral bathrooms %HESITATION you have an interesting email transparency policy where everyone can read everybody else's emails as
00:18:11I understand it issue I would say it's a and %HESITATION you'll be people can choose to make certain emails available but it's it's very much on opt in premium basis by Susan follow the former over engineer who wrote that viral blog post about Cooper about sexual harassment and
00:18:25discrimination and ultimately you know resulted in the CL leaving the company she now works at strike what do you see yourselves continuing to do to attract and retain you know whether it's women or under represented minorities there's a whole bunch of sort of specific initiatives con right those
00:18:42things around you know making sure that people who become you know moms and parents you know stay with the company and to read tractors numbers carefully in Virginia to live there as high as they are in this initiative to work on for female entrepreneurs and those kind of
00:18:56specific hiring practices both have interview people and %HESITATION %HESITATION you know hiring goals inspection engineering to be set for managers and stuff like that like I think sometimes you believe a bit too quickly to kind of what's their checklist of initiatives and they think they're going to die
00:19:09and I think that like you're actually reading this year if they're actually gonna do it well %HESITATION I think it has to be something that that is really deeply you can just likes to fuse in the culture and that everybody lives every day because you know you can
00:19:23you can have a good list of initiatives but without really in the culture then you know there's just not gonna work now before we go I understand there's a third call some rather who as I hear is even more tech savvy than you are tell me about time
00:19:38yes at that time is that for years my junior and Tommy was %HESITATION very interested in this topic that we talk about about the implications of technology in the fact that more of our lives are meeting online use really interesting that before it was the talk of the
00:19:55town of before with the cool thing to be into hands and so we worked out that the Electronic Frontier Foundation which very storage at at non profits around digital rights in digital privacy and things like that and he now works for a company called our nonprofit called tore
00:20:09at who produce at trace less or or privacy preserving software especially used by journalists and people like that so yeah I think he is the the one to watch really he's taking a very different tack on this stuff he was born with cerebral palsy I'm curious how that
00:20:24impacted your relationship as a trio so that it can affect the whole family environment and and as if the kids are growing up %HESITATION whatever certain as you grew up in Houston consider normal right %HESITATION and for him and for parents and for us you know it was
00:20:41sort of it was very no nonsense %HESITATION in that you know well okay you this this disadvantage or sort of in a unfortunate piece of luck that's fine yes like figure out what the game plan is to overcome ash and then be a work to make that happen
00:20:56and you know he walks in he runs it he swims any cycles everything else and and and that took a lot of work %HESITATION by that but there was no and you know wallowing in self pity or anything like that and as John mentioned earlier with her parents
00:21:10for entrepreneurs and again have somebody there to people sometimes ask us you know what inspired us to become entrepreneurs or something like that and you're for us it was an %HESITATION it was like the normal thing I just see this going to theme running through our upbringing in
00:21:24general %HESITATION and %HESITATION you know did the sort of no nonsense way in which both he and again our parents approaches I mean if I if I can inspiring honestly %HESITATION and sit help sort of keep in perspective you know and the challenges of you know building a
00:21:41fast growing company or something like that it's like seeing the the work that he's investors again now over the course of decades of it keep some perspective so what is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs are people who may not look like you who want to do what you
00:21:58do the first thing is to increasing said you don't have to be here %HESITATION like this and that's very different even versus ten or fifteen years aptitude test and even looking to come to your building like for stride member serving other technology companies are kind of at some
00:22:14pretty significant benefit to being here but you can almost certainly do it wherever you are today I would take advantage of the communities tools the knowledge the interatomic available and start where you are right now how do you see yourselves navigating your partnership your relationship as brothers as
00:22:35the company grows and the stakes if all goes well right only get higher that you know we've survived this long and I'm not too worried about it on a on a go forward basis projector it's very ad for twenty years you know we get choppy Wesley survive another
00:22:52couple gets the last word by the way when you disagree gosh I can't remember the last time we even had a discussion about figuring that out because when you're so focused on the war in a strike just past thousand people were still hiring very quickly there is all
00:23:05this the next problem in the next %HESITATION interaction to go with and so I think one of the things that I find very enjoyable it's been you have a high trust environment that which we do and we've been working together for a long time you're sort of not
00:23:16focused on the the national structure and how do we arrange the lego bricks and things like bass you always focused on the on the on the next problem where all straight bi and let's say five years I hope that we a substantially completed this work of building this
00:23:34globally unified economic infrastructure %HESITATION that service companies of every size and that makes it possible for women more companies to get started and sort of coming to get started a matter what country in the world there and I still think it's absolutely **** crazy that if you start
00:23:51a business in Indonesia no good locks on to customers in America if you start a business in Germany good looks on to consumers in China and so on it's like we should be up in arms or the fact that the internet does not make this infrastructure available today
00:24:02that that it's not complete and I'm very proud of sort of you know the progress we've made of the first you know six seven years but you know we we've quite a ways left to go home were sitting here and I hope and and in five years you
00:24:13know %HESITATION I hope that's it that foundation infrastructure has been put in place and now work or at that point then we can become turning our site so you know what comes after it right I'm scheduling our catch up for five years I have never mind guy Parker
00:24:27calls and thank you so much for joining us on the show it's really been great bluemix Studio One point oh is produced and edited by Kevin Hines our executive producer is can be checked for managing editor is Daniel Culbertson I'm Emily Chang your host and executive producer this

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