Silicon Valley legend Elon Musk has seen his early investment in Stripe soar as new funding values the payments sensation at $1.75bn (€1.3bn).
The tycoon, whose fortune was made through punts at Tesla and SpaceX, backed Stripe at seed stage along with fellow PayPal starter Peter Thiel, AirBnB backer Andreesen Horowitz and Valley angel Ron Conway, along with venture giant Sequoia Capital, which also invested in this latest round.
By the latest $1.75bn valuation their initial $2m backing when Stripe was valued at $20m suggests that seed investment is worth some $175m now, a 80-fold return on a tiny Angel play.
It was considered so tiny that when we asked Elon Musk about it over a year ago, it wasn't really on his radar. "I am a very tiny investor in Stripe and have no idea how they are doing," he emailed at the time.
Now Stripe is charting a not dissimilar path of US technology stars, raising $80m in high-profile series C funding. Latest backers Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Allen & Company appear to have bought in for a 4.5 per cent stake.
Twitter, which Stripe is on the verge of signing a major deal with, raised just $35m at series C stage and was valued at $250m at that point. PayPal raised $100m and had a valuation of $700m. Stripe is touted as being worth more than the giant it is massively disrupting was at this growth investment stage.
Stripe's total funding now is $120m. It is thought, but not confirmed, that Limerick brothers Patrick and John Collison, who started the company, retain a controlling share in Stripe.
"The colossal valuation comes from speed of growth," one Silicon Valley figure said. "Revenue is known to be increasing consistently each month. Investors see this pattern of growth, the considerable revenue and it's an incredible story of an incredible growth rate.
"This is going to be a massive company."