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Anatomy of a Startup Profile: Stripe

The New Power Player in Online Payments  (Stripe)Fortune

By Miguel Heft, Fortune, December 9, 2013

Miguel Heft, senior writer at Fortune magazine, covers the meteoric rise of online payments system Stripe (perhaps he was swayed by former colleague and PR superstar Kelly Sims, who is rocking out PR there).

  • Compelling founder story – Ivy League drop-out brothers from Ireland. Boom.
  • Founder track record – When just 16 and 18, the brothers Collison brought their eBay auction management tool to Y Combinator, which they would sell for “millions.”
  • Personal reason to launch startup – What always bothered them about their auction management tool was that charging for it was a pain involving credit card vendors. They were offering free trials simply to avoid having to deal with the problem. In addition, brother Patrick created an app, and without the app store he would have given it away. With the app store, and the ability to easily accept payment, charged for it, earning enough to pay his MIT tuition.
  • Unmet need – Easy online and mobile payments – credit card companies made it too difficult.
  • Timeliness – The world is all about payments – PayPal, Square, Braintree, Stripe – and apps and startups, which are power users of Stripe technology.
  • Quick comparison – “Stripe does for websites and mobile apps what Square does for food trucks.” Also states Stripe wants to be part of the fundamental plumbing of the Internet, “akin to Amazon’s cloud computing infrastructure.”
  • Disruptive – Yes and no. Credit card companies are still getting their cut. If anything, it’s disruptive to the other innovators that came before – Square and PayPal.
  • Clear value proposition – From the writer: “I open an account, cut and paste a few lines of code from the Stripe website, and minutes later I process my first transaction.”
  • Referenceable clients – Many, including hot names like Squarespace, Salesforce and Lyft.
  • Client stories – The article explains with specificity how Squarespace and Lyft are using Stripe, with Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena quoted, saying, “This thing used to take weeks to set up.”
  • Metrics – $1 billion annualized transactions within 18 months, growth shown via statement that it is now processing in one day as much as it had been in one month over that same period of time. 75 employees. $50 million from who’s who of VCs.
  • Third-party endorsement – None.
  • Trendiness – Is anything trendier than payments?
  • Healthy skepticism – Much weight is given to the competitive threat of PayPal, with the acquisition of Braintree giving them such accounts as Uber and AirBnB.

For more information on the Anatomy of a Startup Profile series, click here.