(Bloomberg) Stripe Inc. raised new financing that values the startup at about $9 billion, cementing its status as a major player in the crowded digital payments space and heralding a possible initial public offering.
CapitalG, the late-stage investment arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc., and venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners led the $150 million round, with participation from existing investors including Sequoia Capital. The San Francisco-based startup was previously valued at $5 billion and has raised more than $450 million to date.
“The company’s valuation is a reflection on its size, scale, potential profitability and an unbounded market size,” General Catalyst managing director Hemant Taneja said, comparing Stripe to Amazon Web Services, Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud-computing business, which pulls in more than $2 billion in quarterly revenue. “If AWS is the stack for computing, Stripe is the stack for commerce.”
Amazon.com operates business-to-business supplier Amazon Business, No. 104 in the 2017 B2B E-Commerce 300.
Stripe’s soaring value is a bright spot in a startup sector that has seen mostly stagnant or falling valuations this year. India’s top ride-hailing service Ola is seeking new funding at a 40% lower valuation. The Bloomberg U.S. Startups Barometer, which measures things like capital raised, deal count and number of exits, has fallen 8.9% in the past year. Stripe shows that some startups capable of making money can still attract richer rounds.
Stripe also got revolving credit facility of up to $250 million from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, and Barclays Plc, according to people familiar with the financing. They asked not to be identified because the transaction is private.
These banks are vying for IPO clients in the tech industry. Given that startups rarely use venture capital financing to pay back debt, the fact that Stripe is borrowing cash suggests lenders believe the company can pay the money back through profits or by raising capital in the public market, said Jay Ritter, professor of finance at the University of Florida.
“Taking on a credit line suggests that the company is possibly raising equity in an IPO in the not too distant future,” he said. “Stripe is obviously big enough to appeal to public market investors and cover the fixed costs of going public and being a publicly traded company.”
Stripe began by making mobile payments tools for developers. At first, the six-year-old company attracted small tech companies in the U.S. It has since become a competitor to digital payments giant PayPal Holdings Inc., winning over larger enterprises including Facebook Inc., Target Corp. and Macy’s Inc. Stripe is now worth twice as much as Square Inc., a mobile payments firm that went public a year ago.
PayPal has 24 clients listed in the B2B E-Commerce 300, including SmartSign.com LLC, No. 165, OfficeSupply.com (No. 175) and Toolfetch.com LLC, (No. 265).
Stripe has users in 110 countries and in recent months it started in Asia. Money from the new round will be used for faster international growth, possible acquisitions, more developer tools and new software to help businesses in different ways, Stripe said.
With this investment, Alphabet now has stakes in three large tech startups that may go public soon. Earlier this month, its CapitalG unit disclosed an investment in Snap Inc., operator of the Snapchat messaging service. Alphabet also has a stake in car hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc.
Stripe provides software that lets businesses easily accept payments online, from credit cards to bitcoin, Android Pay and Apple Pay. It also provides tools to help with data security, fraud prevention, accounting and billing. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the fundraising.
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