The PayPal Mafia


We’ve been talking for a while about doing an infographic/flowchart/pretty diagram of the PayPal mafia, but haven’t made it happen just yet. Since being bought by eBay in 2002, former PayPal employees have funded, employed, and advised each other at a whole bunch of Valley startups, including YouTube, LinkedIn, Slide, and Yelp. Others outlets have tackled this story, but the New York Times adds some nice chains of favors in a piece on the topic out Tuesday.

For instance, the genesis of Yelp (the main character here is Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, but there are so many names we’ll refer you to the NYTimes piece for the rest):

On the walk back from the restaurant to their offices — an incubator for start-up companies run by Mr. Levchin — Mr. Stoppelman and Mr. Simmons discussed the idea further. “We were bubbling with excitement,” Mr. Stoppelman said. “As soon as we got back to the office, we pulled Max aside and pitched him the idea.” Mr. Levchin liked it, and the next day he agreed to back the project with $1 million.

When Mr. Stoppelman and Mr. Simmons were ready to look for venture capital, Mr. Rabois helped them put together a presentation. Mr. Hoffman has frequently offered guidance to the company. And Mr. Thiel also gives Mr. Stoppelman business advice, sometimes when the two jog together along the San Francisco waterfront.

Fun game: search LinkedIn for PayPal.

Also interesting: Although many of the people mentioned here (especially the ones who ended up angel investors) were PayPal executives, a couple of the non-execs (who would have made less off the eBay buy) — Chad Hurley and Steve Chen — just pulled off an acquisition whose price narrowly beats that of PayPal. Are we in for another round of incestuous investing?



for the record: Elon Musk was actually the founder/CEO of PayPal was originally founded by Max & Peter Thiel (altho in its earlier incarnations, Peter was an investor before becoming CEO).

when merged with PayPal, Elon became CEO for a short period of time until Peter later resumed the CEO role (also an interesting story there) and led the company thru the IPO and subsequent acquisition by eBay.

however, since Elon had invested a lot of his own money in, and since the merger was slightly in’s favor, Elon ended up with the largest non-institutional investor stake in PayPal when it IPO’d.

trivia note: on the day of the PayPal IPO (Valentine’s Day 2002), the party in the company parking lot was highlighted by a) Max busting open a pinata using a sword, b) Peter playing 10 simultaneous games of chess with other PayPal execs & employees, and c) “keg stands” by numerous folks, including the senior counsel who hadn’t slept for about 72 hours straight.

needless to say, PayPal was quite an adventure for everyone ;)


i believe that you can also keyword search for paypal on and see much more interesting results…not sure if there’s a need for such a tool (tech mafia tracking) but it sure would be interesting to see it (like, but for just tech startups…)


sorry for all that link confusion – i can’t seem to paste the hyperlink without it being transformed here and not working; serves me right for being as crude as using good ole cut n paste, i guess. just ignore me(!).

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