10 Things You Didn’t Know About John Collison

John Collison, the Irish billionaire entrepreneur may be well-known for co-founding Stripe with his elder brother Patrick, but there are many more intriguing facets to his life and astonished career. So let’s take a deep dive into the lesser-known tales of this self-made billionaire, who has been breaking boundaries and influencing the world of tech.

1. Youngest Self-Made Billionaire in the World

John, along with his elder brother Patrick, earlier held the title of the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. This is an achievement that was primarily due to Stripe’s skyrocketing valuation. Founded in 2009, Stripe’s worth skyrocketed to nine figures in a very short span of time, catapulting the Collison brothers to the top of the global billionaire list. This title has since been taken over by Kylie Jenner, however, it certainly underscores the unrivaled success of John in the tech industry.

John was only 26 years old when he joined the elite club of billionaires, making him the youngest self-made billionaire in 2016. His net worth continues to climb, thanks to Stripe’s financial soar.

2. Hails from Limerick, Ireland

Despite achieving colossal success in the United States, Collison originally hails from the rural village of Dromineer in County Tipperary, Ireland. Growing up far from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, he and his brother cultivated their love for computers and programming from a young age, which ultimately led him to co-found one of the biggest tech companies in the world.

The Collison family home in Limerick bore the early signs of John’s entrepreneurial spirit, serving as the original headquarters for his previous startup Shuppa. Interestingly, despite his global success, John remains firmly tied to his Limerick roots.

3. An Avid Pilot

When John isn’t running Stripe, he enjoys flying planes. He had a fascination with aviation from a young age and earned his pilot’s license before even receiving his driver’s license. Such feat goes to show that Collison isn’t one to wait around—when he sets a goal, he gives it his all.

Collison often uses his piloting skills to fly himself to business meetings, adding a unique and impressive element to his professional prowess. His passion for aviation also transcends to his work at Stripe, where he considers the execution of every task like coordinating an intricate flight plan.

4. He Studied at Harvard

John Collison attended Harvard University, one of the most renowned educational institutions on the globe. Initially, he pursued a joint course in physics and economics but had to drop out to concentrate fully on his entrepreneurial endeavors.

While at Harvard, Collison set the early stages of Stripe’s development in motion. Using the resources available to him at the esteemed institution, he built the company from a simple idea to the tech giant it is today.

5. Philosophy Enthusiast

Outside his impressive business endeavors, Collison has an unexpected passion: philosophy. He particularly enjoys reading the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and cites him as one of his favorite authors. Collison’s interest in philosophy sheds light on his penchant for critical thinking, which has undoubtedly contributed to his success in business.

His passion for thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo is closely tied to his philosophical leanings. This unique intersection of business savvy and intellectual curiosity sets Collison apart from his contemporaries.

6. Early Interests in Computer Programming

In his teens, John Collison showed a keen interest in computer programming. Being homeschooled by his mother, an entrepreneur herself, both John and his brother, Patrick used this unique opportunity to delve into the world of coding in their early years.

This interest led them to work together on their first business venture, Auctomatic, before transitioning to Stripe. Auctomatic was an auction and marketplace management system which was sold for $5 million in 2008 before they even turned twenty.

7. He Ran the Fastest Half-Marathon

Apart from his business pursuits and intellectual interests, Collison is also a skilled athlete. With a personal best of 1 hour 22 minutes, he holds the record for the fastest half-marathon run among Fortune’s ’40 Under 40′. His love for running and his discipline towards it is a testament to his tenacity and commitment in every aspect of life.

His competitive nature about running is not only reflective of his commitment towards maintaining a balanced lifestyle but could also be symbolic of his success. Like his marathons, the journey with Stripe, too, has been more of a sprint than a slow, steady race.

8. Early Rise to Success

John’s first big break came at the age of 19 when he co-founded the software company, Auctomatic, with his brother, Patrick. Auctomatic, an automated tool for managing eBay businesses, was quickly successful, selling for $5m just nine months after its creation.

This early success, combined with the subsequent launch of Stripe less than two years later, cemented Collison’s status as a tech prodigy. The boldness and vision that marked these early ventures have continued to define Collison’s achievements throughout his impressive career.

9. Has a Strong Passion for Music

This tech maverick enjoys de-stressing with a bit of piano playing in his free time. He particularly loves playing classical music and has been known to put on impromptu performances for friends during casual get-togethers.

John’s enthusiasm for music underlines the eclectic nature of his interests and talents. His ability to balance a high-pressure career with personal passions serves as a testament to his well-rounded character.

10. He Doesn’t Consider Himself an Overnight Success

Despite Stripe achieving overwhelming success in a short span of time, Collison maintains that his journey was not an overnight success. He insists that the development of Stripe was slow and steady, iterating on the product and refining it over a considerable amount of time.

Collison sees persistence and consistent hard work as the keys to a successful business, an attribute that has undeniably played a huge role in his own journey to success. This perspective showcases his modesty and a grounded attitude that are rare amongst top-tier entrepreneurs.

Useful links:

Stripe’s About Page
John Collison’s Forbes Profile