Silicon Valley’s biggest unicorn is stepping up its recruitment in Britain after its boss declared that Big Tech’s shift beyond America’s west coast would boost global growth for years to come.
Stripe, the Irish-American payments start-up, hired more than 200 people in the UK last year as it built up its international operations. Patrick Collinson, 33, its chief executive, has predicted that the wider technology sector’s expansion outside of California will generate a “big tailwind for the world.”
The group’s fledgling operation in London is “maintaining momentum” this year, according to Max Roberts, its regional leader for the UK, Middle East & Africa, who described a “super-quick” growth trajectory during the first and second quarters. “I can see that progressing,” he said. “The plans are really exciting.”
Based in San Francisco and Dublin, Stripe is behind the financial plumbing that allows millions of businesses — including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Uber — to sell products and services. It was founded in 2011 by the Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, 31, and now has more than 4,000 staff, including about 240 in Britain. Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, sits on its board.
A fundraising last year valued Stripe at $95 billion, making it the world’s most valuable privately held technology start-up outside China, although it is said to have have lost this title since then to SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space exploration group. Venture capitalists deem any such business with a value above $1 billion to be a “unicorn”.
This month Patrick Collison highlighted how Stripe had significantly increased its hiring beyond the typical areas for prominent American technology businesses. While only 39 per cent of its recruits in the first quarter of 2019 were outside San Francisco’s Bay Area and Seattle, this figure had risen to 74 per cent by the last quarter of 2021. “I think the rate at which [the] tech industry is going global is still under-appreciated,” Collison wrote on Twitter, “and that this will be a big tailwind for the world over the next decade.”
Roberts, 50, a British veteran of Oracle and Salesforce who joined Stripe in 2020, said that the UK had become a “really, really important market” for his company. He cited the country’s “internet-savvy” population, bulging financial technology sector and ecommerce market, which is the third largest in the world.
As of last week Stripe was seeking to fill 52 new posts — including sales, engineering and recruitment roles — in London, but Roberts raised the prospect of expansion in areas outside the capital as a “super-exciting next step . . . I’m very passionate about it. I’d really like to grow out,” he said, pointing to cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.