Peter Caparso is a cofounder of Adyen, a global e-commerce company which provides outsourced Internet payment services. Prior to cofounding Adyen, Peter worked at various companies ranging from Fortune 500 firms to startups before becoming a key figure at Bibit. In 2004, Bibit was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland, where Peter then headed the global e-commerce sales and account management teams for the United States. Peter received his MBA with a concentration in finance and strategic management from Boston College and holds a BA in economics from Villanova University.
Sramana: Peter, let’s begin by reviewing your background to explore the genesis of your company.
Peter Caparso: I started right out of college working for New England Telephone. I had received my undergraduate degree from Villanova University. After working for one year, I went to Boston College at night and earned my MBA. Starting with the phone company was great because it gave me a very solid background. I don’t think there is anything wrong with working for large Fortune 500 companies, but at the same time it motivated me to pursue the entrepreneurial path that was inside of me.
For the next 10 to 12 years I kicked around with various software and telecommunication startups in the Boston area. Toward the end of that period I worked for my first international company, VocalTech, which is an Israeli based company. We were doing VoIP 10 years before it came into vogue.
Sramana: What role did you have with these companies? Were you an engineer?
Peter Caparso: It depended on the company. I would typically be driving sales, business development, or opening new regions. In the late 1990s I went to a Dutch startup company, Bibit, and joined as one of the company’s first employees. I had been approached because they wanted to find someone on the East Coast who had worked with multiple international organizations.
Bibit had envisioned e-commerce as a global phenomenon. Our goal was to establish relationships with the predominant banks in countries to get access to local payment methods. That would result in lower payment rates and allow us to offer our customers a global portfolio of e-commerce options.
The business model worked, and in 2004 Bibit was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Since I was not a founder I could not cash out and move to Brazil like some of the other founders did. I ended up staying around and running Royal Bank of Scotland’s e-commerce division in the United States. It was a great opportunity, and it afforded me the opportunity to work with many Fortune 500 CFOs, CEOs, and other executives. It let me understand their roadmap as they looked to globalize and monetize their offerings.
I kept seeing the same story. Customers were looking for more flexibility, customers were looking for more transparency in their e-commerce transactions, and customers wanted better business terms. As luck would have it, I was at a conference in Belgium in 2006 when I ran into some of the former founders of Bibit. We went out to get a cup of coffee which lasted for almost five hours. I found out they were hearing the same issues from their customers in Europe.
The idea to create another e-commerce payment provider emerged, even though there were already a million of them. We decided that we would be different by investing on the front-end experience and by providing business terms that nobody else at the time could offer. That is truly the genesis of Adyen.