Online payments processor Stripe is inching close towards a stock-market debut by hiring a law firm to help prepare the ground, according to media reports.
The company founded by Irish entrepreneurs Patrick and John Collison has consistently downplayed suggestions it intends to go public. However, a report from Reuters indicates Stripe has tapped Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton as a legal adviser on early-stage listing preparations.
There has been no decision on the timing of any stock-market debut, according to sources quoted by Reuters and the next step would be the hiring of investment banks later this year. The listing would be unlikely to happen this year, two of the sources added.
Stripe, which has headquarters in both Silicon Valley and Dublin, is considering going public through a direct listing, rather than a traditional IPO, because it does not need to raise money, two of the sources said, cautioning that those plans could change.
The sources requested anonymity because the deliberations are confidential. Stripe and Cleary Gottlieb declined to comment.
Stripe, which was founded in 2010, became the most valuable private company in Silicon Valley earlier this year after a new fundraising round in March that valued it at $95 billion (€80 billion). It reportedly secured a further $1 billion in investment last month after offering investors the chance to purchase shares from early backers and employees past and present.
Remaining private has enabled Stripe to keep financial details such as revenue and profitability under wraps. However, is has also deprived the business of the opportunity to use its shares as a publicly-traded currency to help finance acquisitions and to incentivise employees.
Stripe processes hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions every year for millions of businesses worldwide. Its list of clients includes Google, Uber, Amazon and Zoom.
The company employs more than 2,500 people globally, including more than 300 in Dublin. It set up an international engineering hub – its first outside the United States – here in early 2018 and recently announced plans to take on up to 1,000 additional staff.
The local hub is playing an increasingly important role for the business. Stripe Tax, a new product aimed at helping businesses automatically calculate and collect tax, was developed here.
Stripe's pace of growth could result in it challenging Chinese technology giants Ant Group and ByteDance, whose valuations are close to $200 billion, for the title of world's most valuable start-up by the time it goes public.
A public listing would also likely significantly increase the Collisons’ personal fortunes, which is estimated to be about $9.5 billion each.
“Our business is not highly capital consumptive and we’re structured in a way that we can continually self-fund and so IPO considerations are secondary to us, company president John Collison told The Irish Times last December.
“If you sit in on a management meeting at Stripe, then we’re not talking about IPOs, but about customer issues and our product roadmap,” he said. – Additional reporting: Reuters