Unlike Snapchat, the software that has made John Collison, 27, the youngest self-made billionaire is hardly known to most of the world.
You see, Collison is the co-founder of a US-based software business called Stripe.
Together with his older brother Patrick, 29 – who sits at number three in the ” world’s youngest self-made billionaire” list – the two set up and run the San Francisco-based company, reports BBC.
Evan Spiegel, 27, of Snapchat fame, stands between the two brothers as the second youngest.
So why have we never heard of this “Stripe” business?
Well, well, well:
Founded in 2011, Stripe is not widely known because it doesn’t sell anything that consumers can buy.
Instead its software systems enable companies around the world to accept more easily online payments and to run their websites.
With more than 100,000 global customers, last year it announced a new round of funding that valuing the company at $9.2bn.
That’s R124 billion.
This means that John and Patrick are each worth at least $1.1bn, according to Forbes magazine, which is expert at calculating the wealth of the rich and famous.
Introducing John and Paddy:
The brothers grew up in rural Republic of Ireland, in a small village in County Tipperary, in the west of the country. Keen computer programmers as teenagers, they both dropped out of university:
After attending a state secondary school in the city of Limerick, their choice of universities was an indication of their ambition in life.
Not for them a college in Ireland or the UK, they instead both decided to study at top US institutions.
Despite no family connections in the US, Patrick successfully applied to study maths at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston in 2007. Two years later John was accepted nearby, at the city’s equally well respected Harvard University.
John says: “It was obviously easier for me because Patrick had already done it, but we’d both developed a bit of wanderlust.
“I had considered the UK, but that wasn’t far enough away, it wasn’t wandering enough. And both of us were studious, so going to a top college in the US was always tempting.”
But before the two had even stepped foot in university, the two had already become millionaires thanks to their first business venture: a software firm that enabled small firms and sole traders to do business more easily on the auction website eBay.
Called Auctomatic, it was sold in 2008 for $5 million (R70 million) a year after they had set up its first iteration.
Then, it was onto Stripe:
“We came up with Stripe the way a lot of people come up with similar ideas – we were in the market for something like Stripe [that we could use].
“You might wonder what is hard about starting an [online] business. Creating a product that people actually want to buy, and getting them to hear about it, all that we could handle. But getting money from people over the internet was extremely difficult.
“I remember saying to Patrick ‘how hard can it be? Maybe we should give it a try?’.”
So off they went and created a “software system that allows firms of all sizes to more easily collect payments, and run other parts of their websites, such as safely storing customer data, and other security systems’:
Despite numerous competitors, Stripe’s user numbers quickly grew, and it secured funding and support from such technology sector heavyweights as Tesla boss Elon Musk, and Paypal founder Peter Thiel.
Its business model is relatively straightforward – it charges customers an amount per transaction processed using its software. In the UK this is 1.4% of the value of the transaction plus 20p.
And that’s a quick how-to on becoming a self-made billionaire.
Nice one, boys.
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