Stripe, an online-payments technology company based in San Francisco, has opened a Chicago office that’s about half engineering.
The company plans to have about 40 employees here by year-end, says co-founder John Collison, who was visiting the new office at 515 N. State St. today.
Chicago is the company’s fourth major site outside Seattle, Singapore and Dublin, Ireland. Collison said the company picked Chicago over other locations. “We basically looked at everything east of the Mississippi.”
Stripe joins several West Coast tech companies that are turning to Chicago for technical talent. Chicago has long been an outpost for sales and customer support but only recently have companies such as Google begun aggressively growing their technology ranks here.
Software maker ServiceNow opened an engineering office a year ago. Glassdoor has begun adding engineers to what began as a sales and support operation. Amazon also has added engineering jobs to sales and support roles here.
“The traditional Silicon Valley model is the brain of the organization is there, and so is the large majority of the people, and you have sales offices flung around the world,” Collison said. “We’ve built up fairly substantial research and development offices outside of San Francisco in Seattle and Dublin. Chicago is the next step for us.”
The company, whose payment technology is used by customers such as SpotHero, can tap into a broad base of workers from firms including payments-tech outfits such as Braintree, JP Morgan Chase, e-commerce companies such as Groupon, and fraud prevention and security operations such as Trustwave. Among the products being worked on from Chicago is Stripe Connect, which involves payments by companies to gig workers or other parties.
“It’s a good market for talent,” Collison says. “You don’t have to twist people’s arms particularly hard to get them to move to Chicago. When you open an office, you’re not necessarily just hiring from that city. There are a lot of people who’d be very excited to work for Stripe from Chicago, but maybe they have family here and wouldn’t necessarily want to move all the way to San Francisco or Seattle.”
That’s been the city’s mantra for several years, and was a key part of Chicago’s pitch to Amazon during the HQ2 derby. Until now, there weren’t many companies saying it. It will be interesting to see how many more join in.