The battle between every startup and incumbent comes down to whether the startup gets distribution before the incumbent gets innovation, oft observes a16z general partner Alex Rampell. But how does this play out when most of the players, big and small, think the innovation has already happened in a particular space? What if there are unmanifested and untapped opportunities in a space? This episode of the a16z Podcast explores these questions through the case study of Stripe.
Based on a conversation that took place with Rampell and Stripe co-founder John Collison at our most recent Summit event, the episode covers how the classic battle between startups and incumbents has played out in the payments space; how the broader payments processing landscape has evolved over the past four decades; and what might happen to the established market cap of the “old guard”. Stripe is an interesting case study since the company, which was founded in 2010, entered the payments processing scene when the (pervasive) sense was that payments were “done”… and yet at the same time, its co-founder Patrick Collison believed their customers “did not exist yet”. So what happened? And how does go-to-market change as a startup evolves, and its mix of customers too changes?