Company culture

An Insider’s Look Into Stripe’s Culture of Positivity

Everything you need to know about the culture at this top-tier startup.

According to its website, Stripe is “a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet. Businesses of every size—from new startups to public companies—use our software to accept payments and manage their businesses online.”

Stripe’s famous mission statement has become key to its success: to increase the GDP of the internet. Their developer-focused, instant setup payment platform has been applauded for its simplicity and scale.

Let's explore the Stripe company culture and benefits.

Measuring Stripe’s Success

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The company has earned numerous praises from leaders and publications.

  • CNBC named Stripe its #1 disruptor 50 company and has praised its efforts in keeping the economy afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic, as businesses increasingly move their operations online.
  • Thousands of companies, including Amazon, Shopify, Glossier, Under Armour, Zoom, and Slack, utilize Stripe’s software tools to accept payments from anywhere across the globe.
  • The company operates in 39 countries and has attracted a star-studded list of investors including Peter Thiel and Elon Musk.
  • In the world of startups, Stripe is top tier as the most valuable Silicon Valley company, currently valued at $36 billion.

But what is it really like to work for this successful startup with optimistic future prospects?

Wide Range of Responsibilities

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The day-to-day of a career at Stripe is often described by current and former employees as a “choose your own adventure.”

Patrick McKenzie, a software engineer and entrepreneur who has spent the past two years primarily at Stripe Atlas, described a wide skillset as being necessary for his role-- his responsibilities didn’t fit very well on a business card. He wrote code, requirements documents, strategy memos, guides, and advised various Stripe users, employees, and partners.

His primary draw to the company, however, was its truly collaborative atmosphere (sometimes described as friendly competition). Problems that needed to be solved were everyone’s responsibility and tasks were not arbitrarily relegated to lower-ranking individuals.

For example, the company hosted an internal red-team exercise, open to all software engineers, to identify possible holes in cyber security concerning fraud and “bad guys” trying to access those online revenue streams-- a major threat to a company primarily dealing with online transactions. The result was a large amount of “high quality fodder for remediation without us (Stripe) actually losing a dollar,” and the closing of vulnerabilities within the system. Patrick McKenzie won the competition with a few dozen submissions, and earned bonus points for “probably getting away with it.”

Increasing the GDP of the Internet

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Another key factor in measuring Stripe's culture is its moniker: “to increase the GDP of the internet.” A former employee on Glassdoor writes that:

“Every time we increase the pace of business formation, the likelihood of business survival, or the rate of business growth, we win.”

Another employee on Glassdoor comments on the impact of the work at Stripe:

“The work is very high impact and there are lots of opportunities to learn if you're not already familiar with the fintech space."

At such a large, influential company with the bandwidth to affect these outcomes for thousands of businesses, the Stripe work culture has become synonymous with this question: How much positive change can you create for our customers during your time at the company?

Employees agree that you would be hard-pressed to find another startup with the resources to maximize employee impact on customers. It also makes the work more personally rewarding, instead of having to constantly worry about pleasing the higher-ups and stakeholders of the company.

Structure is Lacking and Work is Fast-Paced

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One fault within the company is the lack of structured career growth. Most employees note that this development is usually self-guided, with very few formal systems of mentoring and skill development.

In the fast-paced work environment of Stripe, this can occasionally lead to employees being left behind in their career development. A San Francisco employee echoes this sentiment on Glassdoor:

"The main downside is that while there are a bevy of bright people and resources available to learn, the fast paced nature of the company can easily leave you behind growth and learning unless you take the time to seize it yourself."

Aside from lacking structured growth, the only other widely agreed-upon qualm with Stripe is the work-life balance. One reviewer writes on Glassdoor:

"The work life balance is *bad*. For how many products Stripe has, we are a very lean company. Too lean. There's just a lot of work, and very very tight deadlines, very fast paced, and not enough engineers and product managers to do all of it. If you want WLB as an engineer, join an infrastructure team, not a product team."

"Hire and Fire" Culture

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Another aspect of Stripe that is questionable: its hiring culture. Some know Stripe to have a high employee turnover rate by swiftly pushing out low performers and even rescinding job offers. Some refer to it as a "hire and fire" culture. An employee at Stripe explained on Blind:

"They reward strong performance and keep good talent but manage out low performers quickly."

What's worse is that some employees report knowing quite a few people who were fired at the 11th month, just before reaching their first vest.

However, there seems to be a lot of disagreement over the so-called "hire and fire" culture at Stripe, with many employees saying it's exaggerated and not worse than any other company. A Stripe employee wrote on Blind:

"I think it's exaggerated. A couple of folks on the low end of my team moved into other functions and stayed. Very few managed out after several years."

The conclusion? The firing rate depends on your org and manager.

What Are the Benefits and Salary Like?

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Competitive salary

Stripe pays competitive salaries in the tech industry. For software engineers:

  • L1: $188k TC per year for the first 4 years
  • L2: $313k TC per year for the first 4 years
  • L3: $333k TC per year for the first 4 years
  • L4: $463k TC per year for the first 4 years

Keep in mind that since Stripe is privately held, the RSU portion of your compensation is illiquid until IPO.

Benefits you'll love

If you're still wondering why work at Stripe, the employees seem to be really happy with the benefits offered. One San Francisco-based review commented on Glassdoor:

"Benefits are great, even with pay and stock options not being what they used to be. Especially good for parents or expectant parents."

Here's a list of the benefits and perks you get while working for Stripe:

  • Comprehensive health/dental/vision insurance
  • FSA account
  • 10 free therapy sessions
  • 21 days of PTO and 9 holidays
  • 14 weeks of family leave for primary caregivers and 6 weeks for secondary caregivers
  • $125/month wellness reimbursement
  • $2500 WFH reimbursement for full-time remote workers
  • $500 education stipend per year
  • Great food in the offices
  • Lots of free swag like t-shirts, jackets, blankets, notebooks, pins, and stickers

Stripe, as reported by current employees, has a plethora of internal resources, including a library of past memos and guides accessible from all branches of the corporate ladder.

This further contributes to the culture of positivity and collaboration at Stripe, as team members are encouraged to consistently further their own learning and help advance the independent learning of their peers.

Conclusion on Stripe Culture

So, is Stripe a good company to work for? With a talented roster, an ever-expanding market, and a strong innovation curve, Stripe is clearly a standout in both its operations and work culture. Experiences at Stripe are overwhelmingly positive, and the reasons why are clear even from outside the company.

In the years to come, it will be interesting to see how this culture is affected as Stripe continues to grow and expand. Will it continue its developer-focused initiatives or trade them in for corporate interests as localization of work becomes increasingly more difficult?

One thing is certain: Stripe will continue to be successful as e-commerce becomes increasingly popular in the business world.

👉 Got the interview? Congratulations! Practice recent interview questions from Stripe here.

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