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How Payment Processor Stripe Became Silicon Valley's Hottest Startup

The pandemic threatened to clobber Stripe Inc. Instead, it turbocharged the company.

Stripe processes payments for e-commerce companies, keeping a tiny cut of each purchase as a fee for its services. When stay-at-home orders early in the pandemic caused spending to plunge and refund requests to skyrocket, the outlook wasn’t great.

Then everything moved online. More than 500,000 doctors’ offices, farmers markets and other businesses migrated to online payments and used Stripe to do it. As people worked out at home, redecorated or both, Stripe customers such as Peloton Interactive Inc. and Wayfair Inc. enjoyed blockbuster sales.

Stripe’s revenue last year rose nearly 70%, to about $7.4 billion, according to people with knowledge of the company’s finances. Other startups might have flashier apps or more recognized brands, but Stripe showed that it is better to be a workhorse than a show pony.

Now sitting atop a $95 billion valuation—the highest for a private Silicon Valley company, according to data firm PitchBook—Stripe is bulking up overseas, preparing to go public and working to build a one-stop financial supermarket for the internet economy.

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