When disruptive companies lose their way

Written first by the author in Medium.com 

While putting together my small business podcast show, I find spectacular ways to irritate myself. Here’s one such incident, that led me to putting together this piece.

A story about Stripe,

Okay, so not just about the Stripe payment company. But the frequency with which disruptive start-ups grow rapidly and quickly lose the values they launched with. This type of inane, go nowhere writing, I believe is a thought piece. Well I have decided to thought piece my face off, so permit me this indulgence.

As part of the Medium.com writer setup, it asks you to register with Stripe. Not entirely sure why, but I am not about to lecture them on how they run their processes. While filling in the online application I am asked if I have my own website. I do, it’s the CBD Dispensary I write. I continue to complete the form, and then start my own piece of writing for the day.

The first email from Stripe

The following day an email lands in my gmail.

“Hi this Stripe, you guys sling dope, we aren’t down with that, so we can’t give you a Stripe account for it.”

Okay, admittedly, that was not exactly how their email was worded, but words to that effect. A little contextation there. Now, I’m confused, why am I being denied a payment gateway from Stripe for my online CBD shop? I didn’t ask them for one and I am not entirely sure I can even use Stripe on my EKM hosting system. I replied:

“Hi Guys,

I think you are getting a bit confused here, this application came to you via the Medium writer’s program. I am not looking for a Stripe system for my online CBD shop. It was compulsory to apply for Stripe in order to open a writing account with Medium. Do you know what Medium is? I have a CBD business AND I like to write. Neither are related and nor is the Stripe facility.

Please can we get this sorted as it would seem tremendously unfair, clunky and arbitrary to punish those who work in the Cannabis space, from being able to monetise their written word as any one else can.



Again, minor adjustments to text, I wrote this post out earlier while in the gym but the app didn’t draft it, when the phone battery died.

My reply was an automated one, saying the same as before.

I replied again, this time I got a human, who in a slightly different format, repeated the above, and now desperately working out how an irritating human had got round their customer service system. (Its three emails guys, then you get a ‘live-blood’.) I had a fourth email from them a few hours later, not really making any sense, which is a clever move. They have upskilled their email reply to literally throw the conversation in a way that has no as yet worldly produced reply. While I couldn’t really give a hoot, if I get a share of Medium revenue for writing, I am only using this as a business diary; I do care when companies who claiming to be disruptive, claiming to be changing the face of the world, become exactly what they disrupted. Stripe have become nothing more than a Visa, a Mastercard, a Global Payments etc.

They are no longer disrupting, they are simply getting comfortable. We had the same issues in the past, when we were offered their services for our Shopify platform on a vape company.

The Bigger Picture

Why, a product that is entirely legal to sell and use in our jurisdiction and theirs, is prohibited from being transacted via their gateway? Why are they creating their own micro laws?

I can live without Stripe, I have a relationship with established firm Sagepay who treat me as a human. Which is strange when they are an enormous company and the likes of Stripe, would have you believe, they are the devil. In this case, Stripe is bad, Sagepay is great.

But this is the inherent problem of so many companies who start up as a challenger to the established order, here to change the lives of the ordinary and unleash an iconoclastic bombardment on the extraordinary of the world — they can’t help themselves. Power corrupts. Let’s look at Google, who engineered their own paid for shopping advertised items to appear at the top of their google shopping feeds. Take a look at Facebook who had to climb back from their data sharing. Where they sold to big shady entities for political and espionage reasons. Have a look at Amazon who run their marketplace system to monitor what the new product trends are. Then identify what they need to stock, to win trade from their business clients who list on there.

In the banking sector, banks lent to commercial enterprises. When those banks had smashed up their own liquidity markets with dangerous play; they foreclosed on those businesses who couldn’t afford to pay higher rates. Sold their assets and made profits on those entities as well as getting their original money back. Nice.

So Stripe have a little way to go to really match their peers, but making their own arbitrary rules with no foundation on any legal grounds in some of their biggest markets, is really a step in that direction.

And don’t get me started on Seedrs the Crowdfunding platform. More about that one soon.

Small Business Podcast

If you found this interesting, listen to actual audio here. If you are looking for a small business podcast show, then check out our Prison to Profit show.