Stripe, the San Francisco-based payments startup, has raised $250 million in a monster funding round that now values the company at $35 billion. That's up significantly from the $20 billion at which it was valuedwhen it raised funding late last year.
Founded and led by brothers and Irish immigrants Patrick and John Collison, Stripe has become one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile startups since it was founded in 2010. The new funding round includes venture capital heavy hitters like Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, and Sequoia — all of whom had previously invested in the company.
This round brings Stripe's funding to date to over $1 billion, thanks in part to previous investors including Visa, Kleiner Perkins, and CapitalG (formerly Google Capital). The $35 billion valuation propels it ahead of contemporaries like SpaceX, valued at about $33 billion, and Airbnb, last valued at $31 billion.
Despite all of this, John Collison, president of Stripe (his brother Patrick is CEO), says that the company is still "a toddler in our life cycle." He says that he and his brother take "deep umbrage" at any description of Stripe is a "late-stage startup." In their view, it's only getting started, and the Collisons expect to be at this for at least another decade, if not more.
He says that there's no trickery or "artificial" inflation to Stripe's rich new valuation: It's Stripe's view that it's an accurate reflection of the strength of the business and the opportunity in front of the company — and Collison says he wouldn't have it any other way.
"You want the valuation and the business to be in sync," Collison says. "Bad things can happen when you don't."
The funding itself will go towards continuing on with Stripe's existing master plan, says Collison. While Stripe is a "capital-efficient" business, he says, it's "useful" to raise outside capital to help it keep pace with its ambitions. That said, Collison says that the company has no immediate plans to go public.
A growing business
Stripe started as a simple way for developers to add the ability to take credit card payments into their apps, but has since expanded its vision into helping make it easier for entrepreneurs, all over the world, to run internet-based businesses. It counts Airbnb, Amazon, and Target as customers, and Collison says that Stripe now processes "hundreds of billions of dollars of transactions" per year.
In general, Collison says, there's still a lot for Stripe to do before it can consider its mission accomplished.
"Life is still more difficult for startups and internet businesses than it needs to be," says Collison.
Even as Stripe's core payments business continues to grow, the company has expanded into new product lines and markets, amid a larger international expansion.
Earlier this month, for example, the company introduced Stripe Capital, a new business unit to provide small business loans to internet companies. Not long after, it launched Stripe Corporate Card — which, as the name implies, provides its own twist on the company credit card.
The funding will also go towards generally reinforcing its infrastructure, as it brings new merchants and stores into its platform. Collison says that the Stripe payments API — the tool for connecting an app to Stripe's payments system — is used 30,000 times per second, and the company works hard to stay ahead of the curve.
If it can succeed on all these fronts, Collison says, it won't have any problems living up to the lofty expectations that come with a high valuation.
"Of course, that depends on our execution," says Collison — and that while today might involve a "brief moment of celebration," he says, "then it is back to work."