Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison have indicated the payments software pioneer, valued in its last fundraising at $95 billion, is in no rush to go public. And few tech firms want to test the whipsawed public stock markets. But a new listing could solve one looming problem for the 13-year-old startup: Stock awards to some of its earliest employees face a deadline next year.
Some of the South San Francisco, Calif., company’s earliest employees hold 10-year stock options due to expire next year, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. If those original Stripe employees exercise the options before they expire, they’ll need to come up with cash to pay a steep tax bill based on the private value of Stripe’s shares. Stripe could arrange for another secondary offering to buy these loyal employees’ private stock, money the employees could then use towards their tax bills. Alternatively, an initial public offering or direct listing would allow staff—as well as Stripe’s investors—to cash out. Airbnb faced similar stock award pressure in 2020, the year it went public after an unprecedented collapse in travel.