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John Collison on Stripe’s growth plans, the obsession over an IPO, and…a potential sibling cage match

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Before you ask, no, I have no idea when or if Stripe is going public. And, to his credit, John Collison, Stripe president and cofounder, is even-handed about our collective obsession over it.

“People love speculating on this,” he told Term Sheet over the phone. “We have no news to share, and when it’s time to share, we’ll share it.”

It’s an approach and response that evokes some of Charlie Munger’s famous advice, delineated in Poor Charlie’s Almanack (recently republished by Stripe Press): “Avoid unnecessary transactional taxes and frictional costs; never take action for its own sake.”

Stripe just released its annual letter and Munger, who passed away in November, figures heavily in it. It’s an interesting time for Collison and his brother, Patrick, Stripe’s cofounder and CEO, to be thinking about Munger publicly. Munger prized candor, simplicity, and humor—he was a value investor, always with an eye toward longevity. And it’s undoubtedly a moment where Stripe is thinking about the long game. 


In 2023, Stripe hit $1 trillion in total payment volume, the letter reveals. I asked: Why is this Stripe’s headline number? For Collison, total payment volume reflects two things: the company’s “rate of customer acquisition” and how businesses perform “once they join Stripe.”

The letter also emphasizes that Stripe is cash flow positive. I, for one, have been mildly desperate to know how efficient Stripe is (show me the margins, I’m begging you), but Collison reassures me that Stripe’s efficiency and cash-flow-positive status are linked. 

“We’ve been driving a lot of [efficiency] over the course of the last few years, which is how we’ve ended up cash flow positive,” he said. 

These metrics are both revealing and mysterious—we on the outside know only so much about how Stripe is performing, but we do know that the company is huge, massive in a way that’s hard to explain. (The company’s valuation notably got a bump in February, up to $65 billion from $50 billion about a year prior.) Where does Stripe grow from here?

“We are very early in the overall Stripe growth trajectory in the markets that we serve,” Collison told me. “Just to put concrete numbers on it: We’re a trillion dollars in payment volume, we’re very proud to have passed that milestone. But, depending on how you define digital payments, it’s $50 trillion-plus in total payment volume. So, we’re less than 2% of the overall digital payments market.”

Practically, that means Stripe is looking to the “revenue and finance automation space” for its next iteration of growth, and acquisitions are always on the table, Collison said. 

“We’ve always got acquisitions on the brain,” he told Term Sheet. “We’re always looking for companies, but it’s also very hard to set a goal of ‘I’m going to acquire one company a quarter, roughly of this size.’ So, it’s opportunistic.”

Like many people, I’ve found a lot of comfort and insight in reading Poor Charlie’s Almanack over the years. And I quite liked Collison’s distillation of Munger’s essays, writing in his 2023 foreword: “His essays extol the virtues of free enterprise, yes, but also of doing business the right way, with integrity and rigor. Of taking your work very seriously, but never yourself.”

That’s not something Collison just wrote, it seems to be who he is. I tested him a little—I told Collison about my editor’s suggestion: the Collison brothers, in a cage fight against another famous pair of fintech siblings, the Winklevoss Twins. 

“I think that idea is so last year—Elon and Mark already took that!”

A beat. I expected him to leave it, but was delighted as he entertained the joke, contemplating his odds against the Winklevii, ex-Olympic rowers. 

“They’re very tall! If I’m going to be in a cage fight with someone, I would pick someone less tall and athletic.”

So, he’d prefer a different opponent?

“Yes, find some very small brothers for me!”

I’m working on it. In the meantime, it’s clear that Collison has taken Munger’s advice to heart: Never take action for its own sake. 

See you tomorrow,

Allie Garfinkle
Twitter:
@agarfinks
Email: alexandra.garfinkle@fortune.com
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Joe Abrams curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.

VENTURE DEALS

Applied Intuition, a Mountain View, Calif.-based vehicle software supplier for the automotive, trucking, construction, mining, agriculture, and other industries, raised $250 million in Series E funding. Bilal Zuberi at Lux Capital, Elad Gil, and Porsche Investments Management led the round and were joined by Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, and others.

Luminary Cloud, a San Mateo, Calif.-based real-time engineering simulation platform, raised $115 million in funding from Sutter Hill Ventures

Zephyr AI, a Tysons Corner, Va.-based developer of AI algorithms for precision medicine processes, raised $111 million in Series A funding from Revolution Growth, Eli Lilly & Company, Jeff Skoll, and EPIQ Capital Group.

Together AI, a San Francisco-based developer of cloud infrastructure for developing generative AI models, raised $106 million in funding. Salesforce Ventures led the round and was joined by Coatue and existing investors Lux Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Emergence Capital, Prosperity7 Ventures, NEA, and others. 

Nozomi Networks, a San Francisco and Mendrisio, Switzerland-based cybersecurity platform, raised $100 million in Series E funding from Mitsubishi Electric and Schneider Electric.

Perfios, a Bangalore, India-based provider of onboarding, decisioning, underwriting, and other software to the banking, financial services, and insurance industries, raised $80 million in funding from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Unstructured, a San Francisco-based developer of technology designed to turn internal company data into formats compatible with large language models, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Menlo Ventures led the round and was joined by Databricks Ventures, IBM Ventures, and others. 

Polyhedra Network, a Singapore-based Web3 infrastructure developer, raised $20 million in funding. Polychain Capital led the round and was joined by Animoca Brands, Emirates Consortium, Mapleblock Capital, Hashkey Capital, UoB Ventures, Symbolic Capital, Longhash Ventures, and others.

FERMAT, a San Francisco-based startup using AI and machine learning models to personalize e-commerce shopping without collecting personal data, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Bain Capital Ventures led the round and was joined by existing investors Greylock, QED Investors, and Courtside Ventures.

Packfleet, a London, U.K.-based provider of carbon-neutral package deliveries, raised £8 million ($10.2 million) in Series A funding. General Catalyst and Voyager Ventures led the round and were joined by existing investors Creandum, Entree Capital, Founder Collective, and others. 

Cache, a San Francisco-based developer of their own cache exchange fund, raised $8.5 million in seed funding from First Round Capital, Quiet Capital, and angel investors.  

Murphy’s Naturals, a Raleigh, N.C.-based producer of insect repellant and other outdoor lifestyle products, raised $8 million in Series B funding. Point King Capital led the round and was joined by Emil Capital Partners, John Replogle, and others. 

RapidCanvas, an Austin, Texas-based AI platform designed for business leaders, raised $7.5 million in seed funding. Accel led the round and was joined by Valley Capital Partners.

Furno, a Mountain View, Calif.-based producer of carbon-neutral cement manufacturing technology, raised $6.5 million in seed funding. Energy Capital Ventures led the round and was joined by O’Shaughnessy Ventures, Cantos, and Neotribe

Rivalz, a Sonoma, Calif.-based healthy snack company, raised $6.1 million in funding. The March Group led the round and was joined by others. 

Sooma Medical, a Helsinki, Finland-based developer of brain stimulation devices designed to treat depression, raised €5 million ($5.5 million) in funding. Voima Ventures led the round and was joined by Verge HealthTech Fund and Stephen Industries.

TELO, a San Carlos, Calif.-based developer of an electric mini-truck, raised $5.4 million in funding. Neo led the round and was joined by Spero Ventures and others. 

Studio369, a Las Vegas, Nev.-based video game studio developing a blockchain-powered multiplayer game, raised $5 million in funding from BITKRAFT Ventures, Delphi Digital, Sanctor Capital, and others.

Assort Health, a San Francisco-based developer of an AI bot for health care call centers, raised $3.5 million in funding. Quiet Capital led the round and was joined by Four Acres, Tau Ventures, and angel investors. 

Eyris, a Washington, D.C.-based cybersecurity and data protection platform, raised $3 million in pre-seed funding from Red Cell Partners

Synch, a New York City-based sales and sales operations platform, raised $3 million in seed funding. AltCap and Haystack led the round and were joined by Y Combinator, Ritual Capital, and others.

PRIVATE EQUITY

– The Chickasaw Nation established Pennington Creek Capital, a Dallas, Texas-based private equity firm. Curt Crofford, formerly a managing director of Hicks Equity Partners, will lead the firm.

Operator Equity acquired a majority stake in Incendium Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based growth marketing consultancy, for $2.1 million. 

Apex Fintech Solutions, backed by PEAK6 Investments, acquired AdvisorArch, a New Hope, Pa.-based portfolio management company and rebalancer for financial advisors. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Linden Capital Partners acquired Alcresta Therapeutics, a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of therapeutics for patients with gastrointestinal disorders and rare diseases. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Mandeleo Animal Health Group acquired a majority stake in The Vetcare Centres, a Guernsey, U.K.-based animal health provider. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

PEOPLE

Hyde Park Angels, a Chicago, Ill.-based angel group, promoted Bess Goodfellow, Stephen Ross, and Michael Sachaj to partners and Michelle Rogoff has been promoted to associate.

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