How Two Irish Brothers Turned 7 Lines of Code Into a $40B Empire

Patrick and John Collison. 

These are the two Irish brothers that turned 7 lines of code into a $40B empire.

Instead of chasing 1000 hour programming contracts to build clunky payments solutions for individual clients, the Collison brothers wrote 7 lines of code that developers could simply plug into their websites.

The result is Stripe — a company that has more cash than it knows what to do with.


BEFORE STRIPE

Before Stripe Patrick and John sold Auctomatic to Vancouver Canada’s Live Current Media for $5 million, making them teenage millionaires who then went to Harvard and MIT respectively. 

By the fall of 2010, Stripe had become their full-time jobs and the Collison brothers would drop out of school. They thought about bootstrapping as they had money from the sale of Auctomatic, but soon realized that as a payment startup they would need the kind of institutional credibility that only a top-notch investor could provide.

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PAYPAL VS. STRIPE

PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel led a $2 million series A round with Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. The company grew swiftly, driven largely by word-of-mouth between developers.

In fact, Stripe was essentially a community of developers. It caught on because it didn’t sell to companies, it sold to developers - the people actually building the company. By offering an alternative to PayPal and Authorize that was so much easier to implement, developers around the world were naturally inclined to use it.


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BACK IN 2010

See, back in 2010, setting up a payments system for your business was an extremely tedious process. Most integrations at the time took weeks and months to set up. It was an exhaustive process, involving several departments from legal to accounting.

In most companies, financial integrations were a top-down decision that came from managers who knew little about the technical nightmare of the integration process. They would set arbitrary goals and deadlines, and pass the responsibility onto developers who had to outdo themselves in order to meet expectations.

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STRIPE CHANGED IT ALL

Stripe changed all that by giving developers a quick and reliable way to set up payments. As a result, they built an army of champions for their product, effectively bypassing middle management.

Today, major companies like Shopify, Lyft, Slack, Instacart, Zoom and Salesforce power their online payments via Stripe. 

Stripe doesn’t publicize their numbers but the Collison brothers have said they process “billions of dollars on behalf of their customers annually.” 😲

Another Y Combinator startup, Segment, has turned several lines of codes into billions. If you’re interested in hearing that story subscribe to our newsletter and let me know!

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~ James Skylor

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Related Content

01
Intro
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BEFORE STRIPE
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PAYPAL VS. STRIPE
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BACK IN 2010
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STRIPE CHANGED IT ALL
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