He’s the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, raking in millions from a company you’ve probably never heard of. John Collison is the co-founder of Stripe Inc. with his brother Patrick. 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 more easily accept online payments and run their websites.He also serves as company president. With more than 100,000 global customers, last year it announced a new round of funding that valued the company at $9.2bn. The two started coding in outside the Irish city of Limerick in the 1990s. Their parents had to buy a satellite so the two could access the internet.
“People ask ‘how has your life changed?’, and they want me to have taken up some elaborate new hobby, like Faberge egg collecting or yacht racing”, he told in an interview with BBC.
Instead, the low-key coder prefers his “practical” hobby of running and thinks of being a billionaire as a “calculator exercise” rather than having stacks of cash at his disposal.
“The valuation is predicated on us continuing to execute and launch very compelling products in a highly competitive space — so good signs, but still a lot to do,” he said.
John is not only a developer but is also a licensed pilot. He loves to travel via motorcycles and bicycles and takes early morning hikes.He pilots his travels between his Ireland and San Francisco where Stripe is based. The Collison brothers also like to read books. The two own over 600 books between them.
Due to the success of Stripe, the estimated net worth of the Collison brothers is $1.1 billion each. At 26, John is two months younger than the former youngest self-made billionaire, Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel.
The siblings grew up in Western Ireland’s County Tipperary and went to state school before going to university in the US. The self-taught coders had already founded payments company Auctomatic which they sold after one year for $5 million and quickly moved on to working on Stripe, after a trip to South Africa in 2010.
“I remember saying to Patrick ‘how hard can it be? Maybe we should give it a try?’” John said. Now, the company is on a path to making a fortune with a payment model that sees it gain a small slice of online payments from clients. The future is “indexed to the growth of the internet economy”, John claims, making it a “very safe thing to bet on”.
The brothers had one thing in mind: replace PayPal. It may sound outrageous to some, but the two already have believers and fans, including the men they are trying to beat: Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, the co-founders of PayPal. Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz have also thrown in their support.
John is ranked 15th last year in Forbes list of Richest Entrepreneurs under 40 in America. He is number 1,795 among billionaires in the world and placed 7th in Ireland.
Forbes’ list of the 40 richest Americans under 40 places Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskowitz, both 33, at the top. Zuckerberg has an estimated personal fortune of $71 billion while Moskowitz, who left to found his own company Asana, has $14.2 billion.
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