Stripe Is Most Valuable U.S. Start-Up, Worth $95 Billion: Live Updates

Stripe Is Most Valuable U.S. Start-Up, Worth $95 Billion: Live Updates

Stripe Is Most Valuable U.S. Start-Up, Worth $95 Billion: Live Updates

A photo illustration of a Stripe logo on a smartphone.
Credit…Pavlo Gonchar/Sipa, via Associated Press

The payments company Stripe is worth $95 billion after a new round of funding, making it the most valuable start-up in the United States.

The San Francisco and Dublin-based company said on Sunday that it had raised $600 million in new funding from investors including Sequoia Capital, Fidelity Management and Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency. The investment nearly triples Stripe’s last valuation of $35 billion.

The funding comes amid a surge in the adoption of digital tools and services in the pandemic as more people live, work and make purchases online. That has fueled a wave of investment into, and eye-popping valuations at, tech start-ups, as well as a frenzy of highly valued initial public offerings. Investors have valued Airbnb, the home rental start-up that recently went public, at $123 billion. Roblox, a kids gaming start-up, saw its valuation soar to $45 billion when it went public last week.

Founded in 2010, Stripe builds software that enables businesses to process payments online. As more people have turned to online shopping in the pandemic, Stripe’s offerings have been in demand. It is the largest among a class of fast-growing, highly valued financial technology companies.

Stripe is now processing hundreds of billions of dollars in payments each year across 42 countries, Dhivya Suryadevara, Stripe’s chief financial officer, said in an interview. “We are in a hyper-growth industry and within that, the company itself is experiencing hyper-growth,” she said. Ms. Suryadevara declined to share specifics on Stripe’s revenue or growth.

Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

Stripe has been considered a candidate to go public. Coinbase, another financial technology start-up, filed to go public later this month in a transaction that some expect could hit $100 billion. Robinhood, a stock trading app, has also seen its valuation surge in the pandemic.

Stripe said in an announcement that it planned to use the money to expand in Europe, including its office in Dublin. The company’s sibling founders, John Collison, 30, and Patrick, 32, were born in Ireland.

In a statement, John Collison, Stripe’s president, said the company would focus heavily on Europe this year. “The growth opportunity for the European digital economy is immense,” he said.

The company, which got its start working with start-ups and small businesses, will also invest in building more tools to help larger businesses handle payments. It counts 50 businesses that process more than $1 billion a year as customers.

Gene Sperling at the White House in 2013.
Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden has tapped Gene Sperling, a longtime top economic aide to Democratic presidents, to oversee spending from the $1.9 trillion relief package that the president signed into law last week and planned to promote across the country this week.

Mr. Sperling was director of the National Economic Council under President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. In Mr. Obama’s administration, where he first served as a counselor in the Treasury Department, Mr. Sperling helped to coordinate a bailout of Detroit automakers and other parts of the administration’s response to the 2008 financial crisis.

He advised Mr. Biden’s campaign informally in 2020, helping to hone the campaign’s “Build Back Better” policy agenda. He will serve as the White House American Rescue Plan coordinator and as a senior adviser to Mr. Biden.

His appointment could be announced as soon as today. Mr. Biden is scheduled to give remarks on the implementation of his relief bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, on Monday afternoon. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters last week that Mr. Biden intended to appoint someone to “run point” on implementing the plan — a role that Mr. Biden held for the Obama administration’s $800 billion stimulus plan in 2009.

Mr. Sperling did not respond to a message seeking comment. Friends have described him in recent months as eager to join the administration, and he had been mentioned as a possible appointee to head the Office of Management and Budget after Mr. Biden’s first nominee for that position, Neera Tanden, withdrew amid Senate opposition. His appointment was reported earlier by Politico.

Mr. Sperling’s challenge with the rescue plan will be different than the one Mr. Biden faced in 2009, because the relief bill that Mr. Biden just signed differs starkly from Mr. Obama’s signature stimulus plan. The Biden plan is more than twice as large as Mr. Obama’s, and it centers on a wide range of payments to low- and middle-income Americans, including $1,400-per-person direct checks that Treasury officials started sending electronically to Americans over the weekend. It includes money meant to hasten the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, including billions for vaccine deployment and coronavirus testing.

But the plans also have similarities, including more than $400 billion each in total spending for school districts and state and local governments.

An administration official said Mr. Sperling would work with White House officials and leaders of federal agencies to hasten the delivery of the money, including partnering with state and local governments on their shares of relief spending from the bill.

The Tesla car manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., remained open during the pandemic despite restrictions put in place by local officials.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

More than 400 workers at a Tesla plant in California tested positive for the coronavirus between May and December, according to public health data released by a transparency website.

The data provides the first glimpse into virus cases at Tesla, whose chief executive, Elon Musk, had played down the severity of the pandemic and reopened the plant, in Fremont, Calif., in May in defiance of guidelines issued by local public health officials.

Automakers across the country halted production and closed plants for two months last year from mid-March until mid-May. After resuming production, other automakers publicly announced when workers had tested positive for the virus and halted production to prevent further infection among employees and to disinfect work areas.

Tesla, however, has released little information about employee coronavirus cases.

The data was obtained by the website PlainSite, which works to make legal and governmental documents publicly accessible. It showed that 440 cases were reported at the Tesla plant, which employs some 10,000 people. The number of cases rose to 125 in December from fewer than 11 in May.

A year ago, after officials in California ordered manufacturing plants to close, Mr. Musk suggested on Twitter that the measure was unnecessary and that cases in the United States would be “close to zero.”

He also called virus restrictions “fascist,” threatened to move Tesla out of California, and then reopened the plant a week before health officials said it was safe to do so. More recently, Mr. Musk has questioned on Twitter the effectiveness of Covid vaccines.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday said that inflation was “a small risk and I think it’s manageable.”
Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Futures for the S&P 500 stock index fluctuated on Monday and indicated the U.S. benchmark index would open little changed after closing at a record high on Friday. Most European stock indexes were higher.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell by 0.02 percentage point to 1.61 percent on Monday. It reached as high as 1.64 percent on Friday, a level not seen since February 2020.

Last week, President Biden signed into law a nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus package. On Friday, bond yields jumped again as investors considered whether the spending would be inflationary alongside an expected economic recovery as more Americans are vaccinated.

But on Sunday, Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury secretary, pushed back against these concerns. “Is there a risk of inflation? I think there’s a small risk and I think it’s manageable,” she said on ABC. She added that she expected prices to rise over the spring and summer but only temporarily because of how much they fell last year.

“We have had very well-anchored inflation expectations and a Federal Reserve that’s learned about how to manage inflation,” Ms. Yellen said.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs raised their forecast for U.S. economic growth because of the large stimulus bill. They expect the gross domestic produce to increase 7 percent this year, while expecting unemployment to be slightly lower.

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4 percent, led higher by gains in health care and consumer stocks.

  • Shares in Flutter Entertainment, a British betting and entertainment company, rose 7 percent after it confirmed that it was considering publicly listing shares of FanDuel, its U.S. sports betting website.

  • The board of Danone, the French food company, said Monday it had removed its chairman and chief executive, Emmanuel Faber. Its share price rose as much as 5.8 percent. The shake-up comes after a monthslong campaign by activist investors, The Financial Times reported. Under Mr. Faber, Danone changed its legal status to be a purpose-driven company with a social mission of “health through food.” Danone’s water and dairy brands include Evian, Alpro and Silk.

  • Shares in Tencent were at their lowest in two months, dropping 3.5 percent on Monday after a loss of 4.4 percent on Friday. The Chinese tech company is facing a crackdown from antitrust regulators, Bloomberg reported.

The Maryland hotel executive Stewart W. Bainum Jr. had been planning to create a nonprofit group that would buy The Baltimore Sun.
Credit…Andrew Gombert/European Pressphoto Agency

A deal that would reshape the American newspaper industry has run into complications just one month after an agreement was reached, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

As a result, the New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital may have to fend off a new suitor for Tribune Publishing, the chain that owns major metropolitan dailies across the country, including The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun, the people said.

On Feb. 16, Alden, the largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, with a 32 percent stake, reached an agreement to buy the rest of the chain in a deal that valued the company at $630 million, reports The New York Times’s Marc Tracy. In the deal, Alden would take ownership of all the Tribune Publishing papers — and then spin off The Sun and two smaller Maryland papers, selling them for $65 million to a nonprofit organization controlled by the Maryland hotel magnate Stewart W. Bainum Jr.

In recent days, Mr. Bainum and Alden have found themselves at loggerheads over details of the operating agreements that would be in effect as the Maryland papers transitioned from one owner to another, the people said. In response, Mr. Bainum has taken a preliminary step toward making a bid for all of Tribune Publishing, the people said.

Mr. Bainum has asked a special committee of the Tribune Publishing board made up of three independent directors for permission to be released from a nondisclosure agreement prohibiting him from discussing the deal, so that he would be able to pursue partners for a new bid, the people said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bainum said he had no comment. Through a spokesman, Tribune Publishing’s special committee declined to comment. An Alden spokesman had no comment.

The pharmaceutical industry is popular right now, which is perhaps unsurprising considering that the end of the pandemic depends on Covid-19 vaccines. Drug makers’ rapid response to the crisis has transformed public sentiment about the industry, moving it from one of the most reviled to one of the most respected, according to new data from the Harris Poll, reported first in the DealBook newsletter.

A year of living in existential and economic fear created unlikely heroes. For the past year or so, the Harris Poll has monitored public sentiment in weekly surveys of more than 114,000 people. At the height of the emergency, more than half of respondents were afraid of dying from the virus and a similar share were afraid of losing their jobs. “Only in the past month, with vaccines rising and hospitalizations and deaths declining, is fear abating,” the report noted.

Business generally got good grades during the pandemic. Many respondents cited companies as important to solving problems, where previously they were considered the cause of social woes. Two-thirds said that companies could do a better job coordinating the vaccine rollout than the government could.

Approval ratings rose for many industries from January last year to February this year. But the reputation of the pharma industry — stained by its role in the opioid crisis and criticized for high drug prices — benefited the most. In January 2020, only 32 percent of respondents viewed the industry positively; late last month, that had almost doubled, to 62 percent.

“The pharmaceutical industry’s ability to innovate and perform under intense pressure and in a time of crisis is the ultimate validation for any business,” said John Gerzema, the chief executive of the Harris Poll.

Allison Herren Lee, the S.E.C.’s acting chair, will say that corporate disclosures on E.S.G. issues are a high priority.
Credit…Erin Scott/Reuters

Allison Herren Lee was named acting chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, and she has been active since, especially when it comes to environmental, social and governance issues.

The agency has issued a flurry of notices that such disclosures will be priorities this year. On Monday, Ms. Lee, who was appointed as a commissioner by President Donald J. Trump in 2019, is speaking at the Center for American Progress, where she will call for input on additional E.S.G. transparency, according to prepared remarks reviewed by the DealBook newsletter.

The supposed distinction between what’s good and what’s profitable is diminishing, Ms. Lee will argue in the speech, saying that “acting in pursuit of the public interest and acting to maximize the bottom line” are complementary.

The S.E.C.’s job is to meet investor demand for data on a range of corporate activities. “That demand is not being met by the current voluntary framework,” she will say. “Human capital, human rights, climate change — these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues.”

Ms. Lee will also argue that “political spending disclosure is inextricably linked to E.S.G. issues,” based on research showing that many companies have made climate pledges while donating to candidates with contradictory voting records. The same goes for racial justice initiatives, she will say.

Although Ms. Lee is only the acting chief, she’s laying the groundwork for more action, based on recent statements by Gary Gensler, President Biden’s choice to lead the S.E.C. In his confirmation hearing this month, Mr. Gensler said that investors increasingly wanted companies to disclose risks associated with climate change, diversity, political spending and other E.S.G. issues.

Not everyone at the S.E.C. is on board. Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman, fellow commissioners also appointed by Mr. Trump, recently protested the “steady flow” of climate and E.S.G. notices. They issued a public statement, asking, “Do these announcements represent a change from current commission practices or a continuation of the status quo with a new public relations twist?”

Heather Kilpatrick lost her job last March and stayed home with her 3-year-old daughter in East Boston. She has just taken a new job that enables her to work remotely.
Credit…Tony Luong for The New York Times

In the year since the pandemic upended the economy, more than four million people have quit the labor force. They are not counted in the most commonly cited unemployment rate, which stood at 6.2 percent in February, making the group something of a hidden casualty of the pandemic.

Now, as the labor market begins to emerge from the pandemic’s vise, whether those who have left the labor force return to work — and if so, how quickly — is one of the big questions about the shape of the recovery, Sydney Ember reports for The New York Times.

For the legion of older workers who hope to return to work after the pandemic, a challenging path may lie ahead. Studies show that older people who leave the work force will have a more difficult time re-entering it because of age discrimination and other reasons. If that reality holds during the recovery, the number of older workers who have left the labor force — either because they could not find a job or because they retired early — could be one of the pandemic’s enduring consequences.

One prevailing question is whether employers, as in the past, will look askance at those who have been out of the labor force for a significant time.

Even in a tight labor market, long-term unemployed workers faced a stigma, said Maria Heidkamp, the director of the New Start Career Network, which helps older job seekers in New Jersey.

“In addition to any age, race or gender discrimination that they may already encounter, there’s a lot of evidence that it is easier to get a job if you already have a job,” she said. Though employers may overlook any pandemic résumé gap, she said, “there’s no reason to think that that is going to be different for these people, who are on the sidelines right now who want to come back.”

Still, many economists believe that the extraordinary number of people who have left the labor force will be more of a temporary blip than emblematic of a deeper structural issue. They expect that many who have left the labor force in the last year will return to work once health concerns and child care issues are alleviated. And they are optimistic that as the labor market heats up, it will draw in workers who grew disenchanted with the job search.

A screenshot of Matt Granite during an Amazon Live video.

Matt Granite, who goes by The Deal Guy, streams daily on Amazon Live, covering everything from kitchen gadgets to snowblowers. Under each video is a carousel display of the products he’s discussing. When a viewer clicks that item and buys it, Mr. Granite gets a cut, with commissions varying from 10 percent for luxury and beauty products to 1 percent for Amazon Fresh items. Mr. Granite’s YouTube channel still brings in more revenue through ad rolls and sponsorships, but he said the revenue and audience numbers for his Amazon Live videos have grown over the past year.

This type of shopping, called e-commerce livestreaming, lets brand representatives, store owners, influencers — and really, just about anyone — stand in front of a smartphone and start a conversation with viewers who tune in, Jackie Snow reports for The New York Times.

Amazon isn’t the only company trying out this type of hawking on an American audience.

“Everybody is thinking about this,” said Mark Yuan, a co-founder of And Luxe, a livestream e-commerce consulting company based in New York. “But they are rushing to it because of the pandemic. Before they had a choice. Now they have no choice.”

E-commerce livestreams are still a niche enterprise in the United States, but they are big business in China, where they drive about 9 percent of the country’s $63 billion online market. Kim Kardashian West went on a popular Chinese influencer’s stream and sold out her perfume stock within minutes after 13 million people tuned in. At least one Chinese college offers e-commerce livestreaming as a degree. Chinese retailers have also innovated during the pandemic lockdowns, with more streams focused on one-on-one consultations and store walk-throughs.

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