Patrick Collison — CEO of Stripe (#353)

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Credit: O Hello Media, Eric Ananmalay

“If people around you don’t think what you’re doing is a bit strange, maybe it’s not strange enough.” — Patrick Collison

Patrick Collison (@patrickc) is chief executive officer and co-founder of Stripe, a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet.

After experiencing firsthand how difficult it was to set up an online business, Patrick and his brother John started Stripe in 2010. Their goal was to make accepting payments on the internet simpler and more inclusive. Today, Stripe powers millions of online businesses around the world.

Prior to Stripe, Patrick co-founded Auctomatic, which was acquired by Live Current Media for $5 million in March 2008. In 2016, he was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship by President Obama. Originally from Limerick, Ireland, Patrick now lives in San Francisco where Stripe is headquartered.

Also, as you can tell from seeing just a selected segment of his reading list shared in the show notes below, he’s one of the most well-read people I know. Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or on your favorite podcast platform.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.


Want to hear my interview with one of the founders of Duolingo? — Listen to my interview with Luis Von Ahn, the co-founder of Duolingo, in which we discuss what 2-3 books and resources he’d recommend to entrepreneurs, language learning tips, early mentors and key lessons learned, and how to recruit and vet technical talent (stream below or right-click here to download):

#135: Luis Von Ahn on Learning Languages, Building Companies, and Changing the World
Download


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Patrick Collison:

Stripe | Website | Twitter

SHOW NOTES

  • What does Chris Sacca have to say about Patrick Collison? [06:03]
  • For the well-read Patrick, what makes a book particularly great? What titles get recommended and gifted most? [09:37]
  • Why The Dream Machine by M. Mitchell Waldrop has a special place on Patrick’s bookshelf (which lends further insight into how he vets his reading list). [13:53]
  • On the importance of giving ideas — whether they’re wrapped up in books or companies — time to fail before venerating them as innovations, and not writing off an idea you might tackle uniquely just because someone else has already tried it in a different way. [20:44]
  • When beginning Stripe, what did Patrick and his brother, co-founder John, know when entering a seemingly saturated market that nobody else knew? [28:50]
  • What does Y Combinator’s Paul Graham mean when he uses the term Collison installation, and what decisions were made in Stripe’s early days that — in retrospect — turned out to be really important? [35:04]
  • The tendency of many startups to overvalue PR and marketing, the siren song of high praise, and the shocking shortage of good software from companies that should — but don’t — understand its importance for driving organic traction in today’s marketplace. [46:32]
  • The future of your company is probably not going to hinge entirely on the first name that you give it — as Patrick demonstrates by telling us how SlashDevSlashFinance, Inc. became Stripe. [51:22]
  • A day early on when Stripe hit a hurdle, how it was overcome, and how this affected Patrick on a personal level. [58:07]
  • What did the conversation between the Collison brothers look like that day? Was there anything that trained them to develop the appropriate mindset to deal with these sorts of problems on a regular basis? [1:03:44]
  • Does having such supportive parents make the sometimes odd courses Patrick and John chart for themselves easier to navigate? [1:08:27]
  • Patrick fills us in on the kind of upbringing he and his brothers had in rural Ireland as “free-range” children, and how their parents cultivated their curiosity — from including them in dinner conversations with other adults to camping all over Europe to finding a local monk to teach Patrick ancient Greek when he expressed a passing interest in learning it. [1:14:44]
  • Some wise advice from Patrick about developing your own worldview — even if you don’t happen to fall within the “prime” years between 10 and 20 — and heuristics you can use to help. [1:26:06]
  • Patrick’s recommended people lists. [1:34:37]
  • Why is Patrick so fascinated by economic history and development economics? [1:37:09]
  • How does one gauge perceived economic progress against happiness? Or put another way, why are a lot of Ethiopians generally happy until they get television sets? [1:40:30]
  • What levers does Patrick think we might we pull to better equalize happiness around the world? [1:47:08]
  • What progressive strides has South Korea made in a relatively short period of time that might serve as an example to currently troubled areas looking forward to their own development? [1:53:28]
  • Suggestions Patrick has for people who are trying to increase the speed of their decision-making process, and concepts and books that have been helpful to me. [1:58:20]
  • When I’m agitated about any number of things, “What would Matt Mullenweg say?” is a question I often ask myself. Members of your close peer group can be helpful to your decision-making process even if they’re not physically around to ask. [2:06:37]
  • In many cases, the only way you can have more complete information is to make what might be the wrong decision and then course correct. [2:10:18]
  • Patrick recommends a few books that might help with decisional course correction — or reformatting the approach to make sure you’re not wasting time devising the best solutions imaginable for the wrong problems. [2:12:05]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:16:41]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Posted on: December 20, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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25 comments on “Patrick Collison — CEO of Stripe (#353)

  1. I simply can’t get enough of Tim Ferriss… I devour new episodes as soon as I see the notice in my inbox. Something funny though, I started to get discouraged a bit… Tim, you interview so many amazing successful people who have somehow “made it” (not to mention you, yourself), that I am starting to get depressed about not being like them 😉 Anyhow, enough whining, just wanted to thank you once again for the outstanding job you are doing. Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 2 people

    • No need to get depressed Milen. “Made it” and “Success” are relative terms and you can’t compare to guys like Patrick, etc. Do what makes YOU feel like you’re living a life worthwhile and keep growing…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tony Robbins on more than one occasion has remarked that we are unhappy when we are not meeting our own expectations of our life- we can either change our expectations or change our strategy for achieving our expectations of our life.

      Like

  2. Partway through, simply fantastic- I think their early lifestyle is similar to those Matthew Syed talks about in Bounce (the roots of remarkability are in childhood often times)- wanted to say re: your 4-Hr Workweek episode that there’s an Aussie blogger that started her business because of the book and she is currently making nearly $3 million a year. She might be worth a convo- Denise Duffield-Thomas ( she nearly broke a world record for weddings around the world with Mark, her husband (87 countries), has written three books, has a blog & online business model, fan of your book)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Finished the episode and was really gob-smacked by the realization that at some point in the last few years, I’ve stopped genuinely communicating with people I disagree with….. this episode is really significant in its message on that topic. Someone once said that everyone acts out of their own logic and are never driven to do ill. Even people whose actions we find objectionable have a positive aim in their own mind. I recognize that I glossed over Brene Brown’s last book release because it talks about how we demonize each other and how that is not serving us. Lots to live up to in this episode, thanks, Tim- always pressing to make yourself and us better. Merry Christmas

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this!! Great interview and guest 🙂 We use Stripe for our payments so had some real relevance. Thanks to both Tim and Patrick. Happy holidays! Aidan

    Like

  4. Hi Tim,

    I am a “The Tim Ferriss Show” listener and have learned some insightful tips and tricks! Thank you for sharing the content.

    Yesterday, while I was looking through episodes, I realized that you largely interview men over women. In fact, only 17% of podcasts from this year were solo interviews with women.

    I know you interview experts. That said, I would guess that the population of experts (especially domnestically) is made up of more than 17% women.

    I am writing to encourage you seek out more opportunities to learn from female experts, and in the process, expose them to the same platform of listeners from which your male interviewees benefit. Your podcast is strong. I think this shift could make it stronger.

    Best,
    Kate

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kate, well said.

      Tim & team, I’m a newer listener and first time commenter. When I reviewed the top 20 list for 2018, the absence of women made me curious (maybe it’s intentional and I have missed the overall vision of the show) and sad (we have much to learn from women too.) So wanted to leave a note, would love your take on this.

      Happy Holidays,
      Barb

      Like

  5. Hi Tim-

    Just wanted to let you know I discovered your podcast a few weeks ago and I am completely hooked. I just bought the 4-Hour Work Week and I’m loving it already and (tactfully) planning my escape from the corporate hell that is ABC News. I get paid minimum wage to work about 80 hours a week.

    I will say that I would love to see more of a mix of businesswomen on your podcast. I have been finding it much more difficult to come across business content written by and aimed at females, and that has felt a bit discouraging. i would love to see more of that on your show if possible.

    Your work is truly life changing and I can’t thank you enough for everything that you do for the New Money community.

    Love,

    Lily

    Like

  6. Tim,
    Enjoyed the discussion. When you were discussing economic history and development economics, I was reminded of the recent Jordan Peterson podcast with Bjorn Lomborg.
    [Moderator: link removed.]

    They discuss his UN Millenial goals study of effective ways to spend dollars to help the world. Exactly the questions you were asking. They get into a little climate change debate, but not the main point of the talk. Check it out.

    Bjorn Lomborg and his research are fascinating, maybe a good guest for your show?

    Like

  7. I note that your 5 Bullet Friday says you are interested in learning more about art this year. No better way than to take a classic bookbinding course at San Francisco Center for the Book or any of the other centers around the country or the world. I took my first course more than 10 years ago, was completely fascinated, and pursuing that interest has opened my eyes to design and history and to doors around the world ever since, in private homes and the backdoors of famous museums and libraries I would otherwise never have seen. The progress and fall of civilization of human kind is demonstrated in physical books and their contents, how they are treated and preserved, how they are revered, and disrespected and destroyed.

    Like

  8. Dear Tim,
    Just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge, experience and life with all people around the Globe!!!

    You are indeed GREAT INSPIRATION and ROLE MODEL!!!

    My heartfelt thank you for everything you are doing!
    Wishing you all the best!
    Happy Holidays!!!

    Like

  9. Decision Making at 1:59 is what was trying to do this week. When choosing a fear to work on this week, I started with the idea I visiti the same websites, so therefore exposed to the same ideas and news cycles. My description was: “Abandoning the familiar for faster pace news cycle” I am trying to visit new online communities (and still comment here), go to busier area of NYC, shortcut tasks to half the time such as time it takes me to write this) Definitely writing what he said as a finer understanding of this concept.

    Like

  10. Hi mate

    I have tweeted you about a running challenge I am doing
    I am attempting to become quicker over 250m in just 2 weeks
    My best time at the start was 36.9
    I am aiming to get it down to 35 within two weeks

    I need advice on how I can do it and if you have any hacks I would like to hear them

    Thank you

    Like

  11. Tim, I don’t use twitter but wanted to share a quote that I just heard and thought you’d like:
    This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong.
    Wolfgang Pauli, on a paper submitted by a physicist colleague
    Swiss (Austrian-born) physicist (1900 – 1958)

    Like

  12. Tim, this was a great episode – thanks. Love what you do and eagerly anticpate the next episode. I was wondering if you’d considered doing an episode with an esteemed artist? A Jeff Koons or Ai Wei Wei? The life of artists are hard and I think that a lot can be learned about characater traits and entrepreuniarlism.
    Keep riding the consistent wave.
    Cheers

    Like

  13. Talk about gross domestic happiness being a slippery subject, I recall a researcher talking on the radio about how her research proved that children who play in vegetated areas as distinct from say car parks are more creative. Without defining creativity and how can you and even if you can how could it be quantified. I mean.

    Like

  14. This quote by Patrick – “If people around you don’t think what you’re doing is a bit strange, maybe it’s not strange enough” – is what’s inspired me to set up numerous online marketing projects that many thought were weird but are giving me great ROI.

    Like

  15. I had not come across Patrick, and loved this episode – and seeing the simplicity of your personal site, Patrick. I keep not getting there…

    Like