The Industrialist's Dilemma: Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe

The reason we started working on Stripe initially is because we were astonished by the non-existence of something like Stripe. I was looking for the easy to setup thing that would enable you to charge a credit card. We are not talking about building a self-driving car. We are talking about charging a credit card. It seemed implausible something like Stripe would not exist. [1:15]


Life before Stripe: [Accepting a credit card] was this mortgage like process. Go to the bank. Describe your idea. Convince them. Weeks of setup. Paperwork. High barrier to entry. [2:00]


The opportunity for Stripe: 98% of total consumer spending takes place offline. It seems so obvious there will be far more online-enabled payments happening in the future. [3:30]


Silicon Valley is well known for being a cradle of entrepreneurship. But it is just as successful at being a grave. [4:20]


There is a tendency - when describing product or business advantages - to over-intellectualize it. You are always looking for the structural reason. There is no rigorous structural framework for describing polish, smoothness, or ambient superiority [of a product]. Yet it really matters. [8:00]


What enabled initial growth at Stripe: It was just a better product. You could set it up faster. It was easier to understand. [9:30]


It is a mistake to look at the economy as zero-sum. It is possible for it to be positive-sum. Because the thesis of Stripe is to bring the 2% [of transactions done online] to 20% or 50%, there aren’t a whole lot of companies who are directly threatened or imperiled by Stripe. [12:30]


In some ways, Stripe is a bet on human laziness. We are a bet that people will prefer to do things from their phone than going to physical places in person. [18:30]


I think there is something incredibly potent to this technology-powered restructuring. If you looked at a snapshot of the economy in 30 to 40 years time a very large fraction of it will be occupied by companies taking advantage of things you are describing [bet on human laziness / focus on conveniences offered in the digital world that are not found in the industrial world]. [20:15]


What are the modern ways of competitive advantage that you think of developing within Stripe? The mindshare of all the developers. There is so much in their head that is wired for Stripe and not something else. [28:00]


Full video here.