Tech payments giant has grown to more than 80 engineers in the Dublin hub
It’s been a quite a year for Stripe’s Dublin office.
Rechristened as the €80bn company’s “joint headquarters”, cofounders Patrick and John Collison say that over 1,000 new jobs are coming.
One reason is that it is starting to design and build full global products from Dublin. This is a rare thing among tech multinationals here.
The first big one is Stripe Tax, which calculates sales tax or VAT for dozens of countries, including internally in 50 US states or different Australian states.
This, Stripe says, was one of its customers’ most-requested features. Will we see more of this globally influential stuff from Ireland?
“I think the answer is yes,” says one of the company’s most senior engineers and its Emea business lead, Matt Henderson.
“You'll see more products that are built, from start to finish, from Europe and in particular from our largest hub in Dublin.”
Is it right to consider this as a big deal?
“You might say that it’s a big deal but it's consistent with us being an Irish-American company and Dublin being one of our two headquarters,” he says.
“We're now at a point where we've grown to more than 80 engineers in the Dublin hub already and it’s still growing very, very fast. The team in Ireland has also been driving country expansion for Stripe in the region. We've launched in 13 countries. So quite a high proportion of Stripe’s worldwide country expansion has come out of the same [Dublin] team.”
The underlying figures give more context to why Stripe is investing heavily in its Irish and European operations.
According to the company’s most recent accounts, Stripe’s revenue grew 51pc in Europe and Asia before the Covid outbreak.
It saw an increase in turnover in Europe and Asia from $529m (€440m) to $800m in 2019.
Stripe International also recorded an after-tax profit of $39m for the first time, compared to a loss of $24m the year before, because of a one-off internal group IP transfer worth $150m.
The accounts also show that the Collisons transferred all of Stripe’s international intellectual property to Ireland in 2019, the year it established Dublin as its international headquarters, in a transfer valued at $10.95bn.
Since then, CEO Patrick Collison has described Stripe as an “Irish American” company with an increasing number of leadership executive roles based in Dublin, where over 300 people are employed.
In March, Stripe announced that it would add “at least” 1,000 jobs in Dublin over the next five years as it “doubles down” on Ireland as an international headquarters.
Co-founder John Collison said that Europe, which is Stripe’s second largest market behind the US, is a growing percentage of Stripe’s business and that investment here was one of the reasons Stripe raised a fresh $600m in private funding this year.
“If you're a merchant anywhere using Stripe and you’re selling into a customer who's in France or the UK or Ireland and using a particular local payment method, you’ll likely utilise features that are built by these teams in Ireland,” says Mr Henderson.
“They work on a combination of features for our global payments network. Each feature will typically be something that is particularly important for this region, but nevertheless it functions worldwide. This [Stripe Tax] is the first example of a product that has been done from start to finish by European team.”
The company says that it will continue to build out its global payments and treasury network this year, expanding its software and services. Stripe will also soon be available to more businesses in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the UAE.
“We’re very bullish about the talent in Ireland,” says Mr Henderson. “As a result, we're expanding the office here a lot. We'll continue to do so over the coming years. You will continue to see a lot of the engineering, investment in payments networks, geographic expansion and just more depth in terms of performance and capabilities.”
Stripe processes payments in 42 countries for customers such as Deliveroo, N26, Intercom and Donedeal.
Earlier this year, it announced the rollout of card-issuing service for businesses in 20 European countries, including Ireland.
Around 14pc of commerce takes place online today as the global economy accelerates its shift to online in 2020.
Stripe says that its mission is to “grow the GDP of the internet, making it easy for ambitious companies everywhere to grow their business”.
The Stripe Tax feature works by matching a customer’s location with the product or service being sold. It then figures out what the correct sales tax should be before applying it. It will also validate VAT IDs for European customers, applying a reverse charge or zero VAT rate when required. The feature will be charged on a percentage basis, based on when it is used.
“The idea of doing it was more of a screaming need rather than a brainstorm,” said Mr Henderson.
“We started working on it in earnest in Ireland about 18 months ago. We talked to users and then started to build it. Four the last six months, we’ve had some pilot users. testing it on real transactions.’
“We’re more confident now not only about the growth of the internet economy but the impact that we're having on businesses and how they’re using Stripe to expand globally,” he says.
“Now with Stripe Tax, we have one more of the obstacles to globalisation out of the way. For Ireland, that will mean thousands of internet businesses that that we think will now go faster than they could have before.”