The payment processing firm Stripe has reversed its decision to cut off subscription income for Africa-focused publication Today News Africa, whose founder Simon Ateba interrupted Jen Psaki last month at her final White House briefing.
Stripe’s initial decision was reported Tuesday by The Post and gained widespread attention — in part because it happened two weeks after Ateba disruptively shouted at Psaki, but also because Stripe boasted early investments from billionaires including Elon Musk, who just reached a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion to restore free speech.
A Stripe representative called Ateba late Wednesday to say the company would no longer terminate his account.
“Hi Simon, Thanks again for the time on the phone today,” Stripe executive Emily Gonzales Drulis wrote in an email to Ateba. “I’m happy we were able to work out a solution so that we can continue to support you and your business on Stripe.”
“I will work with our teams to ensure this kind of situation doesn’t happen again and that in the future, we work together with our users earlier on to avoid this kind of unacceptable business disruption without the opportunity to fix the issue together,” added Drulis, Stripe’s global head of trust, safety, and risk operations.
Stripe first contacted Ateba on Sunday with an email from “The Stripe Team” to inform him that his site’s offer of a lifetime subscription — for $1,490, versus the site’s one-year option for $149 — violated Stripe policies and his account would be closed as of June 8. On Monday, the company wrote in another email that its decision was “final.”
Drulis told Ateba that Stripe would set aside its decision to close his account if he removed the lifetime option, which he agreed to do.
Drulis wrote in a second email late Wednesday, “Our team has reviewed your account and confirmed that you’re good to go now that the lifetime subscription option has been removed. I can confirm that your account has been re-enabled and you’re able to operate on Stripe.”
While the lifetime membership did appear to violate Stripe’s fine print, Ateba said the timing of the decision to boot him seemed suspicious after he had used Stripe for about a year without an issue.
The Cameroon-born journalist told The Post that he believes public attention forced Stripe to reconsider.
“Stripe should never cancel any business, and should never cancel any journalist,” Ateba said. “Stripe should rather partner with journalists and help sustain journalism with grants to small publications like ours rather than closing them down at a time when newspapers are struggling to stay afloat.”
Ateba, 42, added, “I call on Stripe to give us a grant for damage already done and the pain and suffering they caused our small publication.”
The initial decision to cut ties had Ateba considering giving up running his seven-year-old publication, which also employs a network of African freelancers.
While jostling to be called on isn’t unusual, Ateba upset many fellow journalists with his efforts at Psaki’s final briefing on May 13. Many people in the room saw his shouting as insensitive to Psaki, who had just emotionally reflected on her time as press secretary. The White House Correspondents’ Association threatened to yank Ateba’s associate membership if he behaved in such a manner again.
This is an excerpt from New York Post.
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