Stripe Helps 440 Global Tech Startups Offshore to Delaware

(Bloomberg) — When global companies think about incorporating offshore, they typically look to places such as Bermuda, Ireland, or the Netherlands. Kenyan entrepreneur Trevor Kimenye decided to go with Delaware.

Kimenye co-founded his digital marketing startup Ongair Inc. in Nairobi two years ago. He said companies around the world use Ongair’s tools to help them communicate with customers through WhatsApp and other messaging apps. Ongair has the look and feel of Silicon Valley software, but whenever it tried to collect payment from companies using its services, there would be an inevitable moment of confusion. “Everyone thought we were from the Valley, and now we’re, like, ‘OK, send this money to a Kenyan bank account,’” Kimenye said. “They were, like: ‘Are you Nigerian princes?’”

Ongair employees hacked together a system of wire-transfer services and web payments tools from PayPal Holdings Inc. to facilitate transactions from around the globe. But Kimenye said he was spending way too much time studying the complexities of foreign-exchange currency markets: “I was becoming a forex guru.” He considered switching to Stripe Inc., but the San Francisco startup, which makes payments tools that are popular with coders in the Valley, doesn’t service Kenya.

So Stripe helped him incorporate in the U.S. through a new program called Atlas. “When we automatically took money for the first time from a credit card, everyone in the office was like, ‘Wow,’” Kimenye said. “We felt it had leveled the playing field for us with other companies in the Valley or in Europe. It was no longer holding us back.”

Stripe has been slowly rolling out Atlas over the last three months, pitching it as a startup in a box. For a $500 fee, an aspiring entrepreneur can get the paperwork needed to incorporate in Delaware, a business account with Silicon Valley Bank, connections to American law and consulting firms, and a Stripe account to accept payments online. So far, Stripe has welcomed 440 startups from 91 countries into Atlas. Stripe said it has received applications from entrepreneurs in just about every country in the world but declined to disclose the number of applicants.

Atlas provides a way for Stripe to make customers come to its home country, instead of having to go to them. Stripe works only with businesses based in 25 countries, mostly developed economies, because establishing operations in a new place can involve coordination with local banks, custom technical work, and language localization. Atlas helps Stripe reach developing markets without having to go through the costly process of opening in each one. While Atlas startups aren’t required to use Stripe to process payments, most likely will. Stripe, a venture-backed startup valued at $5 billion, will take a cut of each transaction—which could grow to become a big revenue stream if the companies take off.

Patrick Collison, chief executive officer and co-founder of Stripe, said Atlas can help his company gain the loyalty of a growing set of global entrepreneurs. Their governments should like Atlas, too, he said. The program serves as an alternative to sucking entrepreneurial talent away from emerging markets. “When you discover it’s extremely difficult to start a business or gain access to Stripe in your home country, for many people the easiest response to that is to leave and move to where it is,” Collison said. Stripe said most Atlas participants plan to stay in their home countries.

Stripe surveyed Atlas companies and found that 42 percent were incorporating as a business for the first time, while 20 percent had previously tried unsuccessfully to incorporate in the U.S. They said Atlas simplifies a complicated procedure that otherwise would involve flying to the U.S. to meet with banks and lawyers.

As the wait list for Atlas grows, Stripe declined to say when it plans to open the floodgates. The company said it’s still refining the application process. Stripe underestimated how many questions startups would have when signing up. Several applicants found a phone number listed in some of Stripe’s automated e-mails, which belonged to a leader on the Atlas project, and sent him a barrage of messages through WhatsApp: Do we need a U.S. business address? How many shares should we issue through our new company? What do the different roles on a board of directors do?

To address common issues, Stripe added suggestions inside the sign-up form and to an ever-growing list of frequently asked questions. The goal is to help a startup fill out the form and submit electronically signed documents over the course of a few days. Eventually, any company should be able to join Atlas as long as it doesn’t violate Stripe’s rules prohibiting activities such as drug paraphernalia, gambling, pornography, and pyramid schemes. “There are enough gatekeepers and sources of requisite permission in the world,” Collison said. “We don’t want to introduce more.”

Atlas startups are also hoping their presence in the U.S. will help them attract venture capital. Most said they plan to seek funding in the next year, according to Stripe’s study. Paulo Tenorio, who started Brazilian marketing company Trakto, is hoping Atlas will make his startup more desirable to American venture capitalists after getting turned away in the past. “I’m going to say, ‘I have the legal presence you need here. I can be here in a day. I can spend months here,’” Tenorio said. “I’m going to try it out.”

Business Email Service Is Over, New Enterprise Email Is On

Since February we have been announcing the end of the “BUSINESS” email to introduce the new, more powerful and reliable “ENTERPRISE” email service. However, the improvements generate new costs that we need to pass to our users. But have you compared our email service to others like Google Apps for Business, or Tencent ( Enterprise email service? We are on average 50% cheaper than them! And we offer the same Enterprise grade service!



Sure no problem, you have the following options:
1. Start using the *FREE cPanel email service (contact us to update the DNS settings) remember that we do not offer technical support or any guarantee.
2. Use another email service provider like Google Apps, Sina, Tencent.
3. Delete accounts that you are not using so you only pay for the ones really important.

We are sorry for any inconvenience caused! Remember that this change was made to improve the email experience quality.

Any question please write to us: support(a)

* Available only for Web Hosting clients.

Why Hong Kong Will Be China’s New Tech Hub

By: Paul Denlinger

More than 10 years ago, before the Internet bubble popped in 2000, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and technology professionals all looked to China as the goal of any leading Internet company. So big was the attraction of China that all of the leading companies to go public went out of their way to associate themselves with the China market. In 1999, the first China-play company to go public on NASDAQ, Chinadotcom (now CDC) went so far as to obtain the ticker symbol CHINA.

Companies based in Hong Kong went out of their way to associate themselves with Beijing and Shanghai, the two leading cities in China. Microsoft, Yahoo and later Google all sought to recruit engineering graduates from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China’s leading university for aspiring scientists (and political leaders), offering the best candidates competitive signing packages. Shanghai became home to China’s leading online gaming firms, lead by Shanda Online Entertainment, which went public in 2004 on NASDAQ and which now has a market cap of US$3 billion.

Compared to Beijing, Hong Kong did not have a high degree of technology talent. It did not have a Tsinghua University. It did not have the growth of the Shanghai region with its population of 100 million. The leading venture capital funds completely bypassed Hong Kong. Even its own best online technology and marketing talent left for Beijing and Shanghai, secure in the knowledge that they would be able to make more in VC-funded companies in mainland China instead of Hong Kong. Attempting to stem the talent flow, and to make Hong Kong more tech-friendly, the Hong Kong government spent millions to develop Cyberport, an ultra-modern tech campus with state of the art infrastructure and its own start-up incubator program. But for many years, the buildings were half empty.

Now though, the tide has turned. Cyberport is almost completely full, and there is a certain confidence in the air of being called a Hong Kong technology professional. What happened?

Broadly speaking, circumstances changed in the technology, business and political fields:

The hot area in software development is now mobile apps for the iPhone and Android platforms, both of which have very high penetration in Hong Kong. Hong Kongers are, for the most part, early adopters of new mobile technology. And mobile apps don’t need large, expensive development teams; most are developed by small teams of 2-3 persons using free development kits from Apple and Google.

The Web 3.0 emphasis on mobile means that even though wages and costs are higher than in mainland China, they are affordable. Break-even points are much lower than 10 years ago, and many smaller firms don’t even need venture capital financing; they can cover their costs based solely on mobile app sales. A small company can sell its apps to the world through the Apple and Google application stores, and collect payment without restriction. One local success story is Stepcase, maker of the popular Darkroom and Actioncam photo applications for the iPhone.

Hong Kong’s high population density makes universal wireless and broadband a reality, making U.S. broadband seem embarrassingly slow in comparison. 1000 MPS service is now advertised to homes.
Setting up a business in Hong Kong is much simpler and more straightforward than in mainland China. A new company can be registered and bank accounts opened in two days, compared to 30-60 days in China. Except for the Chinese yuan, which is non-convertible, payment can be received in any currency.
Another growth area for Hong Kong developers are Facebook gaming and Facebook apps. Facebook is very popular in Hong Kong. It is blocked in mainland China.

Unlike in mainland China, websites are not censored by the Chinese government’s Golden Shield, referred to by critics as the Great Firewall of China, or #gfw. Twitter and Facebook are freely accessible in Hong Kong, without the need for proxy servers as they are in mainland China.

In mainland China, the only three mobile operators are China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. They all report directly to China’s State Council, China’s cabinet, and win their approval for major business decisions. This applies even to the introduction of new mobile services, making them political, not business decisions. In contrast, Hong Kong mobile operators are unregulated about when they can introduce new services for consumers. While mainland Chinese operators are held back waiting for political decisions, Hong Kong operators just charge ahead in the competition for consumers.
Because there is no Internet censorship, the services which are popular in the west are also popular in Hong Kong, such as Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter and Google. Out of deference to Beijing, this is not widely publicized, though it is well-known among Hong Kong locals and industry insiders.

Over the past year, the Beijing government has implemented a tough policy of holding web publishers accountable for all content, including advertising and comments. Out of fear of losing their licenses, editors have clamped down hard on content. This has had a dampening effect on Internet development in mainland China.
For western companies in China, doing business is very hard. Most recently, Google shut down its Chinese search engine and redirected all China search traffic to… Hong Kong. Earlier casualties included Yahoo! and eBay. Again, deference to Beijing keeps Hong Kong investment officials from talking too loudly about this issue.
Since Hong Kong is the fourth largest capital market in the world, some of China’s leading Internet giants, including Tencent and Alibaba have chosen to list in Hong Kong instead of in New York.

Does this mean that Hong Kong is completely safe now as a technology center for Asia and for China? No. If for instance, China chose to completely lift content restrictions and chose to treat foreign companies completely the same as Chinese companies, and completely deregulate its mobile industry, Hong Kong would lose its advantage.

But that is not likely to happen soon. So for those smart enough to look harder, they can find very interesting options in Hong Kong, China.

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