Stripe hires high-profile execs, but insists it’s not planning an IPO

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Stripe is expanding its digital payment technology into new industries, and is also welcoming a series of notable executives with backgrounds that are mostly outside merchant technology. But they also have experience with much larger companies, a necessary skill as Stripe tries to grow out of its status as fintech upstart.

Over the past few weeks, Stripe has hired a new Dhivya Suryadevara, GM's former CFO, as its new CFO; Mike Clayville from Amazon Web Services to be its chief revenue officer; and Trish Walsk, a former counsel for Voya Financial, as general counsel.

The hires come shortly after Stripe raised $600 million from investors, helping to fund a technology expansion into medical care, remote work, business funding and diversified onboarding for traditional offline companies that quickly pivoted to an online model during the coronavirus.

Stripe is frequently rumored to be planning an IPO, particularly given it has about $2 billion on its balance sheet and its most recent valuation places it ahead of Airbnb and Palantir Technologies, according to CNBC. Stripe has also made “anticipated IPOs” lists, along with firms like Airbnb and Robinhood.

Dhivya Suryadevara, Stripe's new CFO, was most recently CFO at GM.
Dhivya Suryadevara, Stripe's new CFO, was most recently CFO at GM.

With the new hires, Stripe has a diverse team of “rock stars,” said Richard Crone, a payments consultant, saying that team would improve Stripe's valuation in a public offering. “It’s never easier to attract high-profile talent than right before you go public.”

Rick Oglesby, president of AZ Payments Group, said “it could be Stripe wanted execs with experience running a publicly traded company.”

Stripe is not planning an IPO, a company spokesperson said, referencing past statements from co-founder John Collison, who has often denied IPO plans and as recently as Tuesday sent a tweet saying Stripe is not planning a public offering.

The new Stripe executives come from outside of fintech — the closest would be Walsk, who worked for an investment management firm in Voya. Stripe would not make Duryadevara available for an interview, but the company spokesperson said the unifying theme between Stripe, GM, Amazon Web Services and Voya is “scale.” GM has more than $137 billion in annual revenue and AWS has about $35 billion.

Within the merchant acquiring and financial technology industries, Stripe competes with several publicly traded companies. FIS reported $10.3 billion in revenue in 2019; Fiserv reported $10.3 billion and TSYS reported about $4 billion. Square reported $4.7 billion.

Stripe is also competing with other digitally focused payment companies that have performed well in spite of the pandemic weighing down the economy. PayPal recently raised $4 billion in the bond market and reported $5.2 billion in revenue in its most recent earnings call, a 19% jump from the prior year and PayPal’s best quarterly performance since its IPO.

PayPal and Square are publicly traded companies, as is Ant Group, which recently filed for a new dual listing in Hong Hong and Shanghai. Ant, which is affiliated with e-commerce giant Alibaba and operates Alipay, is seeking to raise $200 billion despite the coronavirus, economic downturn and political unrest in Hong Kong.

While many companies are cutting costs and staff, Stripe has been ramping up. The San Francisco-based company has added more than 400 staffers in 2020, boosting its workforce to about 2,800 in 16 offices.

Stripe’s recent investment round placed its valuation at $36 billion, and Stripe’s spokesperson said the company is “now a high-scale business with millions of users and hundreds of billions of dollars in annual processing volume. These [new hires] have the experience wrapping their arms around the scale and complexity that we need.”

Other fintechs have looked outside the industry to find staff to fuel an expansion. Fattmerchant CEO Suneera Madhani, for example, has discussed the benefits of people working outside of traditional comfort zones as part of project development. The strategy also works in reverse, as Facebook has added executives and staff from the payments industry as the company builds a more robust financial services offering.

While the Stripe hires "may not have experience derived from employment at a traditional payment provider, it appears to me that their experience is likely a great fit for their positions at Stripe,” said Tim Sloane, vice president of innovation at Mercator Advisory Group.

Suryadevara will understand the complex financial management required for a business with multiple units, while Clayville fits with Stripe’s focus on creating new revenue streams out of its cloud service, Sloane said. Walsk, he added, will know the legal landscape associated with managing products that incorporate business and consumer accounts, which is core to Stripe’s business.

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