In its most recent round of fundraising, Stripe raised $600 million, at a valuation of $95 billion. That makes it one of the most highly valued startups ever--more valuable than Elon Musk's SpaceX, and second only to ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok. Musk, in fact, was an early investor in Stripe.
There's no denying that the payment processor is having a moment despite the company being noticeably quiet about its future plans for an IPO. If you've bought something online, there's a good chance you've used Stripe. If you're trying to sell something online, there's an even better chance.
Even more interesting is how it arrived at this moment, 11 years after it was founded by brothers John and Patrick Collison. Here are five reasons Stripe just became the most valuable startup in America:
1. Make Things Simple
Until Stripe came along, setting up a way to accept credit card payments, especially online, was a major headache. It required working with an existing merchant services company and setting up complex systems and integrations. The Collison brothers saw how complicated it was and figured there must be a way to make it more simple.
They solved the problem by making it possible to accept payments simply by adding a few lines of code to your website. That doesn't mean that accepting payments online doesn't still involve complicated processes, but to the end user, none of that matters. Stripe does it all.
2. Play Nice With Others
Part of that simplicity was the ease with which you could connect Stripe to almost any online platform. Stripe has prebuilt integrations with Squarespace, Memberful, Shopify, and BigCommerce, along with hundreds of others. That means, even if you aren't a developer, and don't know anything about code, you can still easily set up your site to use Stripe.
3. Delight Your Customers
One of the most important areas to play nice is with your customers. Stripe has long been known for providing incredible customer support and service. That goes a long way considering a lot of those customers are small businesses that aren't experts on things like websites or code or payment processing.
One of the ways Stripe does this is by staying out of the way. Other services, like PayPal, for example, are a prominent part of the payment experience. You know you're using PayPal when you check out. In fact, you have to leave the site you're buying from to enter your information on PayPal, which then sends you back.
That's not the greatest experience. Stripe, on the other hand, handles everything behind the scenes, in a way that is completely transparent to the customer.
4. Hire Well
One of the stories about Stripe is that the company uses the "Sunday Test" in deciding whether to hire new employees. The idea is that if the person were working in the office on Sunday, would you want to come in and work with that person? If the answer is no, you shouldn't hire them.
One of the benefits of hiring well is that it's a self-perpetuating cycle. As you hire great people, you build a culture where people want to come to work. That attracts talented people who want to work somewhere where they can be both fulfilled and valued.
5. Become the Default
Over time, Stripe has become, for many small businesses, the default option when thinking about how to accept payments online. That's especially true as millions of people had to figure out different ways to do business online over the past year.
If you decided to start an online business during the pandemic, or if you transitioned your existing business online, there's a pretty good chance you defaulted to using Stripe for all the reasons listed above. There is no better place to be as a business than the default option for your customers, and Stripe has done exactly that when it comes to accepting payments online. It doesn't get more valuable than that.