Back in March 2021, online payment processing giant Stripe announced that it had raised $600 million at a $95 billion valuation. The numbers made a splash when they were made public months after the deal leaked.
That Stripe raised in early 2021 is notable. Some private companies that raised large sums of capital last year have struggled to hold onto their valuation — or even their business — in the ensuing quarters. This raises an interesting question about Stripe: Did the company raise at a price that it cannot defend, as many other startups and unicorns did last year?
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Until recently I wasn’t sure, even if I did think about the question from time to time. Happily, Stripe put out a mostly data-free 2021 update letter this month that includes just enough information for us to get dangerous with. With some creative math and, I hope, fair extrapolation, we can derive valuation calculations for Stripe that should help us better understand how well the payments juggernaut busy masquerading as a private company priced its last equity round.
All our math today will become dated the moment that Stripe drops an S-1 filing, but given the dearth of recent rumors to that end, either the company is running a quiet process or really isn’t that close.
More context for our question regarding Stripe’s worth comes from news a few weeks back: Fidelity cut its internal valuation of its Stripe stock by 9% from its 2021 level. Was that too much, too fast?
Let’s have some fun with numbers this morning. We’ll start with the company’s newly released processing volume and then get wild. Into the breach!
Is Stripe overvalued?
Stripe’s 2021 update — which you can read in its entirety here — includes the following verbiage about its historical and future growth:
Collectively, businesses on Stripe processed more than $640 billion in payments in 2021, up 60% from the prior year. (Since a lot of this came from one-time behavioral adjustments caused by the pandemic, 2022 won’t match the same level of growth.)