A year into her role as finance chief of Stripe Inc., Dhivya Suryadevara is working to build out the payment processor’s finance team, strengthen its reporting capabilities and invest in its business, leaning on some of the insights she gained during her years at General Motors Co.
Ms. Suryadevara joined the San Francisco-based financial-technology firm last October, after more than 15 years at GM, including two as its chief financial officer. The move, which surprised some analysts and recruiters at the time, has catapulted her into a leading position to steer Stripe’s growth.
Like its rivals Square Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc., Stripe processes payments for e-commerce companies, keeping a tiny cut of each purchase as a fee for its services. Founded in 2009, Stripe has been expanding into services including Stripe Tax, which helps businesses calculate and collect taxes, and Stripe Identity, an online verification tool.
Bringing on a public company CFO like Ms. Suryadevara signaled to investors that Stripe might be headed for a listing, analysts said at the time. The company has been laying the groundwork for an initial public offering that it could pursue in late 2021 or early 2022, The Wall Street Journal previously reported. For that, it needs the skills and systems to file quarterly earnings reports to the SEC, which isn’t necessary as long as Stripe remains a private business.
When asked about the potential for an IPO, Ms. Suryadevara said, “Opportunistically, we are always looking into new investments. If it makes sense to raise capital in an efficient way, we will do that.”
The CFO said she didn’t pay close attention to the online-payments sector before she was introduced to Stripe. She quickly got her head around the new role, according to former and current colleagues.
“She spends hours engaging internally with the product and engineering teams, and externally with our partners in the ecosystem, as well as the CFOs of many of our top users,” said Patti Kangwankij, head of corporate finance and strategy at Stripe, who reports to Ms. Suryadevara.
Ms. Kangwankij previously worked under Will Gaybrick, the company’s former CFO who also served as chief product officer and head of payments. Mr. Gaybrick has held the sole title of chief product officer since July.
Ms. Suryadevara “brings a great mix of deep financial expertise, long-term thinking and operational acumen,” Mr. Gaybrick said.
At General Motors, Ms. Suryadevara gained a reputation for being meticulous and results-focused, as well as a great communicator, and she brought those skills to the new role, analysts and colleagues said.
“When we were looking at some problem, she clearly had thought about it deeply and encouraged us to poke holes in her logic,” said Rocky Gupta, GM’s treasurer, who worked under Ms. Suryadevara for several years. Mr. Gupta said one important thing Ms. Suryadevara taught him was how to issue earnings guidance in periods of uncertainty, for example in 2019, when GM’s U.S. plants were suffering from a weekslong strike.
“There are often things that are hard to quantify,” Mr. Gupta said.
Ms. Suryadevara said she sees allocating capital for Stripe’s expansion as a core part of her job. Whether at a public or private company, the CFO role is essentially the same, she said. “Public or private, you want to think long term,” she said.
Working with stakeholders is a priority, Ms. Suryadevara said. “At GM, it was suppliers and dealers. Here, banks are the bones, our users are the muscles and we are the cartilage,” she said.
Stripe is working on a vision for 2031, and the CFO is playing an important role in defining the next steps and how to get there, according to Ms. Kangwankij.
“We want to make sure that we have the right infrastructure and backbone [in place],” Ms. Suryadevara said. She declined to comment on the company’s budget for such investments and the number of people working in her finance department.
Stripe—which launched in 11 countries this year, bringing the total to 46—is expected to add insurance and other banking services to its portfolio soon, said Robert Le, a senior analyst at data company PitchBook. It already offers more than 30 local payment methods as well as treasury services and bank accounts, the latter with partners including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays PLC. Square and PayPal also are expanding their product range.
Investors are confident in Stripe and its leadership, said Hemant Taneja, managing partner at General Catalyst, a venture-capital firm that has owned a stake in Stripe since 2012.
“We as investors feel pretty good about having a good pulse of the business,” Mr. Taneja said, referring to Stripe’s interactions with its shareholders. Ms. Suryadevara is a “very operational” CFO and not “afraid to get her hands dirty,” Mr. Taneja said.
Write to Nina Trentmann at Nina.Trentmann@wsj.com
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