Irish brothers' technology start-up now worth $500m
A TECHNOLOGY start-up by two brothers from Limerick is now worth half a billion dollars after its latest round of fundraising.
Barely seven years after one of them won the BT Young Scientist of the Year competition, the Collison brothers' latest venture, an online payments system called Stripe, now has an estimated value of $500m (€408m).
Limerick natives Patrick (23) and John (21) Collison confirmed their place in the top tier of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs after their company raised $20m from a range of top investors, including Massachusetts venture capital firm General Catalyst and existing investors Sequoia Capital and Peter Thiel.
Sequoia is renowned as one of the savviest VC firms in the technology sector, while Mr Thiel made a fortune as a co-founder of payments business PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook.
The fundraising was Stripe's second effort this year, and the firm has apparently quintupled in value in less than five months. In February the company was worth $100m after completing a fundraising round.
Set up less than two years ago, Stripe is an online payments system that is taking on some of the biggest names on the web, including eBay and PayPal. It allows businesses to sell their products online without having to get an expensive merchant's bank account to receive credit card payments.
Stripe also stores the customer details on its own system and deals with the associated compliance matters, removing another big cost for business.
The company employs 17 people at its San Francisco offices but is said to be expanding.
The brothers became teenage millionaires in 2008 after they, along with their partners, sold their first company, Auctomatic, for $5m. Famously, they promised to "fill the fridge" after that deal went through.
The pair are steeped in computers and technology. Patrick took a computer course at the University of Limerick when he was just eight years old and was writing computer code at the age of 10. He hit the headlines in 2005 when he was the overall winner at the BT Young Scientist of the Year with a new computer language.
He took A-Levels instead of the Leaving Cert to get to college as early as possible and took time out from his studies at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology to head to California with John to pursue their start-up, Shuppa, which was eventually merged with Auctomatic.