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Starting a real business

Patrick McKenzie on December 14, 2016

Starting a business is hard. Some of the difficulty is intrinsic—making products and services then convincing customers to pay for them will always be a challenge. Some of the difficulty is unnecessary—access to the infrastructure and tools for starting up an internet business is not evenly distributed.

We built Stripe Atlas to remove the barriers that prevent some entrepreneurs from participating in the global economy on an equal playing field. Many of us here at Stripe have started businesses ourselves and we remember puzzling over taxes and being confused by Terms of Service. This pain is unnecessary and we’re setting out to fix it by sharing what we’ve learned to help build and start businesses. Today, we’re publishing our first guide—on topics around incorporation and taxes—and we’ll be writing more in the future.

’Real’ businesses

In the technology industry, we often talk about “imposter syndrome”—the feeling that everyone around you knows what they’re doing and that you and you alone are just muddling along. The words that come up over and over again in our discussions with entrepreneurs are “real business.”

“If we were a ‘real’ business, we’d have a business plan, but since I don’t have an MBA, I’m just winging it.”

“In a ‘real’ business this system would be monitored, but we have higher priorities this week.”

“I might be able to get investors interested, but why would they be? I’m just a geek working on a website, far from Silicon Valley with all the ‘real’ businesses.”

This feeling is particularly common among first-time entrepreneurs, folks from underrepresented backgrounds, and entrepreneurs in regions without a deep ecosystem of successful internet companies…but it is surprisingly pervasive almost everywhere. We’re all making it up as we go along. (There is no magic elite circle of Silicon Valley whiz kids who feel like they’ve got this figured out.)

Running a business is a learnable skill

We think that bookkeeping, accounting, risk management, and the other mechanics of running a business are tools, not secrets. You can learn them. We’ve collected insight from lawyers at Orrick, accountants and tax experts at PwC, and experienced entrepreneurs to help demystify some of these subjects. Just like the tech industry has benefited tremendously from open-sourcing pieces of our collective technical infrastructure, we think that the global community of entrepreneurs will benefit from democratizing access to the technology of building and running businesses.

You can read more about bookkeeping, accounting, employment, incorporation, risk management, taxes, and contracts in the guide. If there are other subjects you’d be interested in having us cover, please drop us a line at atlas@stripe.com.

Starting a business? Learn about incorporation and taxes. Read the guide

December 14, 2016

Android SDK updates

Michael McDuffee on December 5, 2016

We just launched version 1.1.0 of our Android SDK, which fixes a few bugs and adds some new features:

NewThreading control

Based on your feedback, we’ve added the option to granularly control threading in your app without having to use AsyncTasks. Many modern Android apps take advantage of the abstractions afforded by ReactiveX, so we’ve included an example on how to do it with RxJava.

Updatebrand instead of type for cards

Like the other Stripe API libraries, we now keep track of a card’s brand instead of its type in the Android SDK as well. There’s no change required—we’ve automatically mapped Card#getType() to Card#getBrand().

NewLook up a card’s funding source

When you tokenize a card, the SDK will now return whether it’s a credit, debit, or prepaid card in case you want to handle these card types differently in your app.

NewJavadoc

We’ve added Javadoc to all of the major classes in the SDK so that you can look up functions and parameters right from your favorite IDE:

To start using these features, just download the latest library or update the inclusion line in your gradle dependencies. (We’ve also updated our example app to take advantage of these new features.)

We’ll be adding many more features to our Android SDK over the next few months—if you have questions or feedback, please let me know!

December 5, 2016

Service discovery at Stripe

Julia Evans on October 31, 2016 in Engineering

With so many new technologies coming out every year (like Kubernetes or Habitat), it’s easy to become so entangled in our excitement about the future that we forget to pay homage to the tools that have been quietly supporting our production environments. One such tool we've been using at Stripe for several years now is Consul. Consul helps discover services (that is, it helps us navigate the thousands of servers we run with various services running on them and tells us which ones are up and available for use). This effective and practical architectural choice wasn't flashy or entirely novel, but has served us dutifully in our continued mission to provide reliable service to our users around the world.

Read more

October 31, 2016

A primer on machine learning for fraud detection

Michael Manapat on October 27, 2016 in Engineering

Stripe Radar is a collection of tools to help businesses detect and prevent fraud. At Radar’s core is a machine learning engine that scans every card payment across Stripe’s 100,000+ businesses, aggregates information from those payments into behavioral signals that are predictive of fraud, and blocks payments that have a high probability of being fraudulent.

Radar’s power comes from all the data we obtain from the Stripe “network.” Instead of requiring users to label charges manually, Radar obtains the “ground truth” of fraud directly from our banking partners. Just as importantly, the signals we use in our models include aggregates over the entire stream of payments processed by Stripe: when a card is used for the first time on a Stripe business, there’s an 80% chance we’ve seen that card elsewhere on the Stripe network, and those previous interactions provide valuable information about potential fraud.

If you’re curious to learn more, we’ve put together a detailed outline that describes how we use machine learning at Stripe to detect and prevent fraud.

Read more

October 27, 2016

Introducing Veneur: high performance and global aggregation for Datadog

Cory Watson on October 18, 2016 in Engineering

When a company writes about their observability stack, they often focus on sweet visualizations, advanced anomaly detection or innovative data stores. Those are well and good, but today we’d like to talk about the tip of the spear when it comes to observing your systems: metrics pipelines! Metrics pipelines are how we get metrics from where they happen—our hosts and services—to storage quickly and efficiently so they can be queried, all without interrupting the host service.

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October 18, 2016

Stripe in Japan!

Daniel Heffernan on October 4, 2016

日本語 English

Today, we’re excited to publicly launch Stripe in Japan!

Every business in Japan can now sign up for Stripe and take advantage of the complete Stripe stack. Many core Stripe features—instant setup, support for 130+ currencies, the ability to build marketplaces, fast and frequent transfers, and more—have not been available in the Japanese market before.

When we started our beta in Japan last year, we saw an opportunity for our product to make a difference for local entrepreneurs: there is a growing local startup ecosystem, an appetite to build new types of businesses (like SaaS companies and marketplaces), and an increasing interest from Japanese companies to expand beyond the local market and go global.

Over the last year, thousands of the most innovative Japanese companies have battle-tested these features with us. Companies like Peatix (which builds tools to manage and grow communities), Gengo (which provides translations for businesses around the world), and ANA (the largest airline in Japan). We’d like to thank all our beta users for their feedback as we’ve rolled out and polished our product for Japan.

To support our Japanese users, we’ve also built a local team to provide reliable Japanese-language support out of our Harajuku office. If you’re interested in joining our growing team, please reach out!

We’re looking forward to seeing what these and future users will build on the new infrastructure we’re bringing to Japan. And if you have any questions or feedback, just drop me a line.

Start accepting payments instantly in Japan. Sign up for Stripe

October 4, 2016