Patrick and John Collison
John, 26, became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire last year when the online payments company Stripe, which he founded with brother Patrick, 28, was valued at €8.5bn in a fund-raising exercise — almost twice what it had been worth two years previously. The Limerick brothers, who now live in San Francisco, own about 28% of the company, which they set up in 2010 after being frustrated by how long it took to make payments online. Stripe processes payments for clients including Deliveroo and Kickstarter and is used by Facebook, Twitter and Apple for some operations. Industry sources estimate it processed about $18bn payments last year. It takes 2.9% of every transaction plus 30 cents. Just 3% of global retail spending is so far online, so there is potential for expansion; Stripe operates in 25 countries, and the other 170 are in its sights. The company’s explosive growth has made the brothers the world’s only self-made billionaires under 30 apart from the Snapchat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy. Early investors included the Silicon Valley billionaires Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. Although the brothers fly as a hobby they continue to live in a modest apartment and run the company frugally: at one point John did not have an office or even a desk at the company’s offices. Patrick, who does not have a driver's licence, says they are both single: "Our dating lives are about as interesting as our downtime — there's not a whole lot happening."
The brothers grew up in a village that had “nothing but cows”, where their parents ran a small lakeside hotel. Patrick took his first computer course at the University of Limerick aged 8, and John was still a pupil at Casletroy College when they sold their first company, Auctomatic, which helped eBay sellers track their inventories, for €4m. He still holds the record for the highest score achieved in the Irish Leaving Certificate. The wonderkids went to university in America but soon dropped out, John from Harvard and Patrick from nearby MIT, to move to Silicon Valley and develop the company. To start with they did everything themselves, including writing code and courting customers, but soon expanded and have headhunted key executives from Google and Twitter. Stripe now employs 600 staff, with an Irish office in Dublin’s Silicon Docks. In 2013 the brothers set up an investment partnership in Castletroy, SBCT Investments, with their parents Denis, 62, and Lily, 58, to look at property and venture capital. In January, they began a fundraising drive to fight Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, describing it as “morally wrong”. "We're immigrants ourselves," Patrick said.