Klarna is a Swedish e-commerce company that provides payment services for online storefronts. Their core service is to assume stores' claims for payments and handle customer payments, thus eliminating the risk for seller and buyer. Klarna allows users to pay with simply an email address, billing the customer later and paying the retailer in the meantime. Their business model thus differs from that of other online payment companies, which collect payment from the customer immediately and then forward the money to the retailer. About 40% of all e-commerce sales in Sweden goes through Klarna. The company has more than 1400 employees, most of them working at the headquarters in Stockholm. In 2014, the company handled about $10 billion in online sales.
The three founders Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson participated in the Stockholm School of Economics annual entrepreneurship award in 2005 with their idea on how to provide consumers and merchants with safer and simpler online shopping payment methods. However, their idea was not received with enthusiasm and their entry was among the last in the competition. Despite this, they decided to found Klarna in the middle of 2005 and started operations in Sweden.
In the end of 2007, venture capital firm Investment AB Öresund invested in the company. Three years later, Klarna started selling their services in Norway, Finland and Denmark.
Klarna also started providing services in Germany and the Netherlands in 2010, and in May the same year, San Francisco-based Sequoia Capital entered as investors. During 2010, Klarna increased their revenues by over 80% to $54M (~400M SEK). In the early 2011, The United Kingdom magazine The Telegraph listed Klarna as one of Europe's 100 most promising young tech companies.
In 2011, growth equity firm General Atlantic led a $155M investment round joined by DST Global, and General Atlantic's managing director Anton Levy joined the board of directors. In May 2011, Klarna acquired Israeli company Analyzd, with business activity on markets in Europe, Israel and the United States. Analyzd specialise in risk management and online payments, and its founders previously worked for PayPal.
Klarna began offering services in Austria and Sweden in 2012, and in 2013, Klarna and German SOFORT AG merged after Klarna acquired SOFORT Banking from the majority shareholder Reimann Investors. Both companies would continue to offer their products side by side and operate on a stand-alone basis.
In 2015, Klarna had more than 45M users and some 65,000 online merchants have so far hired it to run their checkouts. Klarna launched in the United States in September 2015, and the US has become its principal focus for future growth. That year, Minister of Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg dubbed Klarna one of Sweden's "five unicorns," by which he meant startup companies that had succeeded in growing and attract international investments. The other four companies were Spotify, Mojang, Skype and King.
As of 2016, Klarna is valued at over €2 billion. At Money20/20 Europe held in Copenhagen in April 2016, co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski told Sequoia Capital partner Mike Moritz that he had no plans to take the company public.
Klarna operates locally in 18 countries; Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, France, U.K., Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the U.S.
Some of the largest competitors with similar product portfolios in these geographies include Swedish PayEx, German BillPay GmbH, PayPal, Stripe and Dutch AfterPay.