What is the “Paypal mafia”, a group from which some of the richest men in Silicon Valley came out

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This is how he calls himself a group of entrepreneurs who worked in the online payment company from which the founders of Tesla, LinkedIn, Yelp and Youtube emerged.

What do Tesla, LinkedIn, Yelp and YouTube have in common? That the people who made them possible left the same place: PayPal. Some of the founders or first investors of great technological giants went through this internet payment company before and played a key role in its initial development.

For years they have not been part of the firm, but many kept in touch with each other and even gave themselves a name: the “PayPal Mafia”. A group that does not have a definitive number of members. The specialized press usually refers to between one and two dozen when talking about him.

But one of the founders, Peter Thiel, prefers to include the 220 workers he had before eBay bought PayPal, as many of them then embarked on the creation of their own digital businesses. It was this acquisition, in 2002, that marked the beginning of the dispersion of the team that had founded this company in 1998.

PayPal has revolutionized the banking sector.

Most do not have fond memories of this separation, such as David Sacks, PayPal’s former chief of operations and founder of the Yammer professional contact network, who described that episode for the TechRepublic portal: “Basically, we were driven from our land [ by eBay] and they burned our temple, so we scattered all over the globe and had to create new homes. ”

Something that, in the end, ended up being productive for the sector: PayPal is today a company that invoices more than US $ 10,000 million a year and that has revolutionized the banking industry. In addition, the PayPal mafia has produced successful companies and leaders in innovation that are also transforming their markets.

Among its ranks are several millionaires, six of whom have amassed a fortune of more than $ 1 billion. Below, some of the most remarkable members.

1. Peter Thiel

One of the founders of PayPal and the first general director of the company. He was born in Germany, but grew up between Africa and the United States.

Established in 1998 a company called Confinity (which later would be called PayPal) with the aim of developing software that would allow individuals and businesses to have virtual “wallets” to carry out transactions over the Internet.

Peter Thiel (right) supported Trump during the presidential campaign.

They were the years of the dot-com bubble and Internet services were starting to gain followers.

After eBay bought PayPal, Thiel retired from the company and was engaged in other businesses that include hedge funds, the big data analytics firm Palantir and the venture capital fund Founders Fund.

These last two were created in conjunction with other members of the PayPal mafia.

But Thiel is best known for being the first external investor of Facebook (he contributed in 2004 US $ 500,000 and, at present, the sales of shares have already made him earn more than US $ 1,000 million) and, more recently, for having supported the campaign to the presidency of Donald Trump.

2. Max Levchin

The co-founder of PayPal was born in Ukraine but moved to the United States in the early 1990s as a political refugee.

After leaving the company, he embarked on another entrepreneurial adventure: Slide, a service that allowed users to share slides with photos on social networks.

Max Levchin founded Slide and invested in Yelp during its inception.

Levchin managed to sell the website to Google, but only a year later, the search engine decided to close the service and Levchin disassociated himself from the technological giant.

As Thiel did with Facebook, the Ukrainian computer scientist is responsible for the initial investment in a platform that is now quite well known: Yelp, where users can recommend local businesses.

Where did you know the founders of Yelp? There were two former Paypal workers: Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons.

Levchin was also a member of the Yahoo! and Evernote and executive producer of the movie Gracias por fumar.

3. Elon Musk

Although today he is known as the CEO of Tesla and founder of Spacex, at the beginning of the new millennium his main role was that of shareholder and general manager of PayPal.

The company of Musk, X.com, merged with PayPal in 1999 and the South African entrepreneur took over the firm during a short period, as he was dismissed in October 2000.

Elon Musk was CEO of Paypal during a short stage.

He remained, however, as the main shareholder of the company until its sale to eBay, with which he earned US $ 165 million.

Aerospace company Spacex is joined by other innovative ventures from Musk, such as the neurotechnology firm Neuralink.

4. Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim

Chen, Hurley and Karim met when they worked at PayPal.

None of them reached their thirties in 2005, when they came together to found a concept that did not exist at that time: a platform to share videos that they called YouTube.

Chen and Hurley are the two best-known founders of YouTube.

A year later, Google bought the company. A transaction that reported millions of dollars.

Since then, they have participated on their own in the creation of other companies. Among them, Airbnb, of which Karim was one of the first investors.

5. Reid Hoffman

Hoffman had been part of PayPal’s board of directors since its inception and was its executive vice president when eBay bought the firm in 2002.

That same year, together with former colleagues from PayPal and his previous company, SocialNet, he founded the social network dedicated to the professional field LinkedIn.

Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn with ex-partners after leaving PayPal.

The firm is now owned by Microsoft, which acquired it for US $ 26.2 billion last year, and has more than 100 million users per month.

Hoffman joined the Microsoft board of directors in 2017.

But he has also contributed to the creation and development of other companies through his role as an investor. Among them, are Facebook, Airbnb and Change.org.

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