The billionaire brothers who make Bill Gates look like a sloth!

The billionaire brothers who make Bill Gates look like a sloth!

There are a myriad of reasons why 99.99% of the population are not record-breaking billionaire entrepreneurs with fortunes that eclipse the GDP of some countries.

A lack of obsessive focus and relentless motivation, to begin with. The brain, energy, and ambition needed also escape most of us, along with the bizarre level of self-confidence possessed by those who are truly successful. Not to mention this totally brilliant idea that we all would have liked to think of but, of course, we didn’t.

So it goes without saying that Patrick and John Collison, two fresh-faced brothers from Tipperary who created Stripe – the online payments processor that is now the most valuable private company Silicon Valley has ever produced – never got together. really integrated.

Not as boys when, rather than playing cops and thieves with their buddies, they indulged in intricate games in which they imagined running their own business while cows grazed around them.

Patrick and John Collison discovered the Internet by reading books before teaching themselves to code

And certainly not now as adults – aged 32 and 30 respectively – so eager to succeed and overtake that for a while Patrick kept a countdown as his computer screen wallpaper, scoring forever the 50 or so years he imagined he had left. on planet Earth, to remind him not to waste a second chatting like the rest of us.

“When you talk to older people, some would like to have more fun, but few would like to waste more time,” he once said.

All of this perhaps explains why the Collison brothers – and not us – now own a company worth £ 70 billion, which has former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney on its board and £ 430million in new capital from financial hitters such as Ireland National. Treasury management agency, Allianz, Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, AXA and Sequoia Capital.

Founded in 2010, Stripe’s valuation has nearly tripled over the past year, surpassing anything that has been achieved by companies like Facebook or Uber before their IPO and, according to John Collison, the company is now ” bigger [by payment volumes] that the whole ecommerce market ‘was when they started working there.

For those who aren’t in the know – although most of us are probably using it without even knowing it – Stripe is an internet payment buyer that allows businesses to process customers’ online payments quickly.

Handling almost 5,000 transaction requests per second requires a reduction of around 1.4% and a fixed fee of 20p per transaction and, thanks to the lock-in, it has gone completely banana.

Which is very enviable. After all, who wouldn’t want to give Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos a run for their gigantic sums?

But perhaps more impressive is the fact that, instead of being hosted by arrogant parents in Silicon Valley, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, or any of the world’s great tech hubs, Patrick and John grew up in Dromineer, a small hamlet in a rural environment. Ireland – surrounded by fields and, as they say, “nothing but cows grinding” – which was so far away they couldn’t get an internet phone line.

Patrick and John Collison created Stripe, the online payment processor that is now the most valuable private company ever produced in Silicon Valley

Patrick and John Collison created Stripe – the online payment processor that is now the most valuable private company ever produced in Silicon Valley

Instead, they are constantly reading; at home, on the school bus, in class – books placed just out of sight of their teachers who, on the principal’s instructions, turned a blind eye.

Each day they each consulted at least two books from the local library, on anything and everything, which they devoured in one night and returned the next morning.

Until one day Patrick picked a few books on the Internet and computer programming – and that was it.

An obsession was born.

“Instead of using the Internet, I used to borrow books from the Internet library,” he once said. “I read everything I could find. It was like looking through the glass at this amazing world, but none of it was available.

Until, that is to say, aged 13 and 11, Patrick and John researched, prepared and delivered a formal pitch to their parents offering them to purchase a special German satellite connection which would finally give them access to the World Wide Web.

Patrick has since described it as more stressful than going to Sequoia Capital, one of the world’s largest venture capitalists (and now one of their investors).

“After that, we went to a rabbit hole! said Patrick.

Suddenly every minute of their free time was spent programming, learning to code, and for a little more fun, hacking into everyone’s websites to reinforce the importance of cybersecurity.

Meanwhile, their parents, both of scientific background and, by that time, entrepreneurs busy with their own projects – their father ran a 24-room hotel and their mother set up a corporate training company – were brilliantly laissez-faire, letting them flourish. .

After being placed second at the age of 15 in 2004, Patrick was named Young Scientist of the Year in 2005 for developing a programming language and an artificial intelligence system.

Anxious to progress, he skipped the last two years of school completely. Instead of taking the usual 30 exams required by the Irish two-year program, he took it all in 20 days, passed them all, ran a marathon to celebrate, and enrolled at the prestigious MIT in Boston, just 16 years old.

John, eager to keep pace, followed him across the Atlantic a few years later – earning a place at Harvard – and, together again, they spent their free time developing iPhone apps and working on a software company.

But even at the highest level, organized education was not for them. And so, with their parents’ blessing – after another formal presentation to convince them – they dropped out of school to focus on Auctomatic Inc, a software company that created tools for eBay. They sold him in 2008 for $ 5 million – at just 19 and 17!

Two years later, after spotting a gap in the market, they created Stripe which, a few years later, was touted by developers and investors in Silicon Valley as the company to watch.

Brothers make billionaire Bill Gates look lazy, with £ 70bn business

Brothers make billionaire Bill Gates look lazy, with £ 70bn business

While Patrick insists that they haven’t set out to build a big business, it suffices to solve one problem – the lack of a global payment mechanism for Internet commerce companies – Stripe has gone way beyond all expectations.

Owning around 12% of the company each, the brothers’ individual wealth has jumped to over £ 8 billion this year, placing them both among the top 200 richest people in the world.

But success has not satisfied the relentless thirst for knowledge of siblings, or to stuff life to the brim.

So they employed a series of personal tutors in everything from law to physics and delved into issues as broad as Turkish politics, water supply, and the philosophy of San Francisco. They even took flight exams – and are now qualified pilots. John excelled at the piano and the guitar. They ran competitively and obsessively – in 2015 John made it a rule to run at least three miles every day of the year – invariably recording their times on social media.

They have lived together, worked together, finished their sentences, are deeply intimate and have never wasted precious time.

“It’s not that I don’t like television,” Patrick once said. “If I had infinite time, I would watch it. This could be a totally flawed optimization. ‘

Yes, you’re right. Patrick doesn’t always speak like the rest of us. Of the homemade apple cake their mother posted from Limerick on their birthday, he once said, “I had a unique appreciation for its merits.”

And when he got engaged in June 2019, he announced it on Twitter with a beaming photo of himself and his anonymous fiancée and the phrase, “We hit our engagement metrics this weekend! “

Naturally, John took over and ran with the joke with his answer. “Oof, proportionate.

Meanwhile, as Stripe has exploded, the brothers have become a tech legend.

But perhaps their biggest achievement – other than keeping their pretty Irish accents – has remained relatively unchanged throughout.

A little cheesy, yes. Extraordinarily close. Funny, bright, quick speaking, often described as “humble” and “well balanced”, always relentless in his thirst for knowledge and not much like the rest of us.

There is a lot that we mere mortals can all learn from Patrick and John – follow your passions. Stay true to yourself. Dare to be different!

But perhaps more reassuring is the realization that while we aren’t likely to launch a billion dollar business any time soon, unlike the Collisons, we have the ability to step up, ignite the telly and accept a little drop. time.


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