The Incredible Story of The PayPal Mafia


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Like all great origin stories, The PayPal Mafia is an origin story that deserves to be told and retold.

From Social Media to the auto and aerospace industries, the impact of the PayPal Mafia is amazing, serving as the launching point for six members to become billionaires.
The story of PayPal actually begins with palm pilots.
If you are too young to remember these, Palm Pilots was a specific brand of a device called a personal digital assistant, or PDAs.
Before the smart phone era, PDAs were cutting edge handheld PCs with the ability to connect to the internet, they were truly awesome for the time and were getting popular by the late 1990’s.
And it was in 1998, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin decided to develop technology to allow person to person payments via the use of PDAs, namely Palm Pilots.
You see, back in those days, sending money to someone was inconvenient compared to today. You were limited to cash or writing a check, and if you were far apart you would have to send it through the mail.
Over the years, credit and debit card infrastructure expanded but they were limited to merchants.
So, with Thiel and Levchin’s idea, people could beam money from one another through an app on their palm pilots essentially creating a digital wallet.
Thiel graduated from Stanford and worked as a lawyer and former derivatives trader in New York before he moved back to SF to start a hedge fund.
Upon his return, Thiel delivered a guest lecture and that’s where he met Levchin.
Levchin’s migrated from the Soviet Union to Chicago when he was 16 in 1991.
He went on to the University of Illinois where he studied to become a computer scientist.
After college, he founded an automated marketing software company called NetMeridian which he ended up selling to Microsoft.
Musk was a child prodigy from South Africa, he taught himself how to code around 10 years old and at 12 he developed a video game called Blastar and sold the code for $500 which is around $1300 today.
By February 1999, at the age of 27, he sold his first start up Zip2 to Compact for $307 which he received $22 million.
And a month later Musk and his friend and business partner Greg Kouri founded, the first, online bank.

Which members of the PayPal Mafia have gone on to achieve the most success, and what companies have they founded or invested in?

The PayPal Mafia is a term used to refer to the group of early PayPal employees and executives who went on to become successful entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley. Their story is fascinating, as they went from building a tech startup to launching some of the most successful companies in the world.

PayPal was founded in 1998 by a group of entrepreneurs who wanted to create a way for people to transfer money online. This was a major challenge at the time, as the internet was still in its early stages and there were few reliable ways to send money digitally. The PayPal team worked tirelessly to create a platform that was easy to use and secure, and their efforts paid off.

The company grew quickly and went public in 2002. Many of the early employees and executives went on to start their own companies, and they leveraged their experience at PayPal to build successful businesses. This group became known as the PayPal Mafia, and their influence on the tech industry is profound.

One of the most successful members of the PayPal Mafia is Elon Musk, who was one of the company’s co-founders. Musk went on to launch SpaceX, Tesla, and a number of other companies that have transformed their respective industries. He credits his time at PayPal for giving him the tools and knowledge he needed to succeed in his later ventures.

Another notable member of the PayPal Mafia is Peter Thiel, who was the company’s first outside investor. Thiel went on to become a billionaire and a major figure in the tech industry, having invested in companies like Facebook and Palantir. Thiel has also been involved in politics, and he helped fund the successful lawsuit against Gawker media.

Other members of the PayPal Mafia have also gone on to achieve significant success. Reid Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn, and David Sacks launched Yammer. Max Levchin started Slide, which was acquired by Google, and Jawed Karim co-founded YouTube.

The legacy of the PayPal Mafia can be seen in the countless companies that have been founded by its members. These entrepreneurs have used the lessons they learned at PayPal to create game-changing businesses and become some of the most influential people in tech. The PayPal Mafia is a testament to the power of teamwork, innovation, and persistence, and their story will continue to inspire entrepreneurs for years to come.

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