Why did the State invest $50m in Stripe?

NTMA chief Conor O’Kelly: Stripe will be key player in growth of global e-commerce in years ahead

Over the past several years there have been multiple engagements and touchpoints between Stripe’s Irish founders and policymakers and government, looking to grow and expand the relationship between Stripe and Ireland. Stripe has a highly successful Dublin presence today but the Irish founders wanted to do more.

Last week the front pages of the world’s financial press covered the story of Ireland’s investment in Stripe and Stripe’s investment in Ireland.

The State invested $50 million (€42 million) in a fundraising of $600 million (€504 million) at a valuation of $95 billion (€79.8 billion) alongside investors such as Allianz X, AXA, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management and Sequoia Capital, one of Stripe’s long-term backers and one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capital firms.

Stripe enables organisations like Barretstown, Amazon, and the GAA to easily and securely accept payments online. It helps companies like Glofox, Deliveroo and Doctolib to go global. It protects brands like Waitrose, Fitbit, and Kickstarter from fraud. The company is building the infrastructure to make sure all businesses can leverage the opportunities afforded by the internet.


Accelerant of growth

It has reached a significant scale in its first 10 years. Stripe now processes more payments each year than the entirety of all global internet commerce when they first got started. In 2020, Stripe processed 5,000 transactions per second. But more interesting than the scale Stripe has reached in its first decade, is the opportunity that lies ahead.

Only 14 per cent of global commerce takes place online today, and I doubt anyone expects that figure to do anything other than grow over the coming years. Stripe will be an accelerant of that growth, bringing the benefits of the internet economy to more countries around the world.

We are confident this investment on behalf of taxpayers will produce a strong commercial return over the medium term. Our confidence is based on a number of factors: firstly, Stripe is already embedded in the infrastructure behind one of the largest secular trends of our time – the acceleration of digitisation and the growth of e-commerce. Even if Stripe did not innovate any further – and it will – it is already such an integral part of the global payments infrastructure, it is set to benefit hugely from its current position.

We are confident that this investment will produce excellent returns for the State in the years ahead.

In terms of the second element of our mandate, economic impact, the announcement by Stripe includes a number of commitments to Ireland – more than 1,000 high-skilled jobs to be added here to its already very successful Dublin office, a focus on growing its sustainable finance strategy in Ireland and a promise to help and support 10,000 Irish SMEs to trade globally over the next five years.

It is our belief that this is just the beginning, given this next-generation company’s commitment to exploring opportunities to do more together with Ireland. Its recent announcement in supporting the University of Limerick’s ground-breaking immersive software engineering programme is a great example and testament to its desire to make a lasting impact on Ireland.

This partnership has been driven by a desire from Stripe’s founders, Patrick and John Collison, to cement and strengthen their relationship with Ireland. They are proud of their Irish heritage and want Ireland to be a beneficiary of their future growth and success.

In all successful partnerships both sides have to benefit; for Ireland we are getting the opportunity to invest in one of the world’s most exciting next-generation companies and to immediately benefit from Stripe’s plans to significantly grow its Irish presence.

Respectful culture

What a great signal it sends to the world that the most prized asset ever to come out of Silicon Valley is choosing to partner with Ireland.

As they travel and grow their business around the world, the Collisons recognise more and more how much Ireland has to offer. They appreciate Ireland’s open approach to international trade, its highly skilled workforce and its entrepreneurial mindset.

While the figures and the data support our investment, successful long-term partnerships are about so much more than numbers.

What has ultimately attracted us most of all to this extraordinary company is its integrity, its culture and its values. The open, diverse, respectful culture that the founders have created continues to attract some of the most talented professionals in the world.

Stripe is committed to closing the inequality gap across the globe and to actively driving this objective through its growth and acquisition strategy. It is equally motivated by climate action, becoming one of the world’s leaders in sustainable finance through its Stripe Climate product. Bill Gates called out the company for its work in this area in his recent “green manifesto for the world”.

It is these values and priorities that we found most compelling as we moved to find a way to cement this partnership in recent months.

We have invested in Stripe and it has invested in us, and together we are creating a partnership that will have a significant impact on Ireland’s economic landscape for decades to come.

Conor O’Kelly is chief executive of the National Treasury Management Agency