Monday, November 28

‘PayPal Mafia’: Elon Musk’s club of cronies (millionaires) that has transformed the internet


In March of the year 2000, Internet He lived in the midst of a great revolution. The economic manna promised by the emergence of the digital world led to the creation of dotcom companies and swelled the markets. The bubble would eventually burst, dragging hundreds of emerging companies with it, but others survived to make history. In this context marked by innovative frenzy and risk, the PayPal Mafiathe group of young promises that would go on to transform the technology industry and dominate it to this day.

In March 2000, the business merger considered the cradle of this myth took place. A year earlier, the cybersecurity company Confinity had launched the PayPal electronic payment system on the market. That idea caught the attention of the brand new owner of Twitter Elon Musk, who at the age of 29 ran X.com, a ‘start-up’ dedicated to ‘online’ financial services. Both left their competition behind, joined forces and adopted the PayPal name. A year later, the desired company went public and after five months it was absorbed by the multinational e-commerce company eBay for 1,500 million dollars.

In just four years, a team of young people had managed to give shape to their visionary idea and had done so following a casual, competitive, hyper-masculine and almost university-like business culture that rewarded the innovation of its members, “nerds” largely from the elite Stanford University. Beneath the eBay superstructure, PayPal grew into a behemoth. However, corporate control and strictness were a corset for dozens of those colleagues, who chose to leave the nest.

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The brilliant minds that gave birth to PayPal did not sit idly by. After the bubble of the dot com It was time to transform the internet. Using the fortune amassed from the merger, the group of colleagues were pioneers of this new paradigm and set out to found and lead a trail of large companies that, like Tesla, Youtube, LinkedIn either yelp, have marked the technology industry. This network of emblems of the digital capitalism It is known as the PayPal Mafia, a gangster nickname given to it by Fortune magazine in 2007.

These are its most prolific members:

Peter Thiel

If this group of entrepreneurs is a criminal clan, Peter Thiel it is his ‘gift’. Founder of Confinity and PayPal, the German-American businessman is known for being the first outside investor in Facebook. In 2004 she put half a million dollars into the newborn social network, putting it on the map, and in 2012 she sold her shares, pocketing almost a billion. Since then she has been on the platform’s board of directors, a position he leaves at the end of the year. Through the Founders Found venture capital fund – which he raised together with former PayPal members Luke Nosek and Ken Howery – he was also one of the first to invest in companies such as Airbnb, LinkedIn, Spotify, Stripe or SpaceX. All this has led him to amass a fortune valued at 5,100 million dollars.

Thiel is the most feared name on this list. Libertarian and conservative, he has used that money to support donald trump and the American extreme right and has declared that freedom and democracy “are not compatible”. Thiel is behind Palantir, a controversial CIA-backed data analytics company whose espionage services have been implicated in multiple scandals. In 2007, the Gawker blog uncovered that Thiel was gay; seven years later, the billionaire supported a Hulk Hogan lawsuit that would end up forcing the tabloid outlet into bankruptcy.

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Elon Musk

Although he does not appear in the gangster collective pose, Elon Musk is the most famous member of the PayPal Mafia. After leaving the company, the tycoon founded the aerospace manufacturer SpaceX and became the majority shareholder and president of Tesla, an automotive and renewable energy company. Both were risky bets, with the promise of commercializing electric cars and space travel. His business has skyrocketed since 2020, making him the richest man on the planet with a fortune of over $270 billion. This Monday his purchase of the social network was made official Twitter for 41,000 million.

Reid Hoffmann

After stepping down as Vice President of PayPal, Reid Hoffmann In 2002, he founded the social network for professional contacts LinkedIn, which is still a reference two decades later. This entrepreneur has been on the board of directors of Microsoft, has worked with Barack Obama and is a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock. His fortune is valued at 2,400 million.

Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim

While still working at PayPal, this trio of entrepreneurs came up with a video platform business. In 2005 they founded YouTube and a year later they sold it to Google for 1,650 million. Since then they have diversified their creations and investments. Hurley, for example, is one of the owners of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Karim is the protagonist of ‘Me at the Zoo’, the first video in the history of YouTube.

Keith Rabois

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Considered one of the most influential people in the shadow of Silicon Valley, Keith Rabois He has held leadership positions at PayPal, LinkedIn, Slide, and Square. He was an early investor in business review platform Yelp, which was co-founded by fellow ex-PayPal owner Russel Simmons.

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Max Levichin

Max Levichin founded the forerunner of PayPal with Thiel. After leaving his company, he founded Slide, a social network that he ended up selling to Google for $182 million. Despite being in the shadow of his colleagues, this renowned engineer helped develop the CAPTCHA system, which determines if someone who visits a website is a human. He also went through the direction of Yahoo. His fortune amounts to 3,000 million.

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