The Collisons have come a long way from the precocious boy wonders who, a dozen years ago, wowed Silicon Valley with just nine lines of code—which was all developers needed to copy and paste to enable credit card payments on their sites. Stripe now offers a broad suite of financial tools to handle everything from DoorDash driver payouts to taxes for Duolingo in-app payments and subscriptions to the Atlantic. At the heart of it all: Patrick and John Collison, who still review every product that goes out the door, an act akin to scientific “core sampling” or restaurant owner–style kitchen visits, depending on which brother you ask. They also still personally fill out “friction logs” of any user-unfriendly moments they encounter using Stripe and, in Patrick’s case, occasionally dive into the code itself.
“We’re not a glamorous business, just an infrastructure company that hopefully we’ll be able to compound for a long time,” says Patrick, his short cropped red hair sun-bleached after his rare week off. “The scope of the job doesn’t change that.”
Like entrepreneurs everywhere, the Collisons must navigate this new normal without slowing down. They’re pushing Stripe into new markets in Southeast Asia and the Middle East while simultaneously shipping new products like an app store and a crypto offering for social media creators. They’re building out existing products to take Stripe deeper into the financial flow of a company and its customers. They’ve begun brokering small-business loans and issuing corporate credit cards. They’re rumored to be exploring entirely new areas like accounting. And they’re trying to do it all in the face of increasingly emboldened competition while appeasing demanding new enterprise clients such as Ford and Maersk.
“Businesses that don’t have to sing for their supper every day, I think they get a bit flabby and lazy,” John Collison says. “We still have a list four times longer of the things we would like to do.”