Max Levchin

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Max Levchin
Ukrainian: Максиміліан Левчин
Maksymilian Levchyn
Max Levchin.jpg
Born Max Rafael Levchin
(1975-07-11) July 11, 1975 (age 39)[1]
Kiev, Ukraine (then USSR)
Alma mater University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

Corporate director at Yahoo![2] Co-founder and former CTO of Paypal

Chairman of the Board of Directors at Yelp, Inc.
Spouse(s) Nellie Minkova (m. 2008)
Children 2

Max Rafael Levchin (Ukrainian: Максиміліан Левчин Maksymilian Levchyn; born July 11, 1975) is a Ukrainian-born American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur widely known as one of the co-founders for his role in the PayPal Mafia as the former chief technology officer of PayPal, which he co-founded in 1998. As CTO he is primarily known for his contributions to PayPal's anti-fraud efforts[3] and is also the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test, one of the first commercial implementations of a CAPTCHA.

In 2002, he was named to the Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35, as well as Innovator of the Year.[4] Levchin founded Slide in 2004 and was involved until 2011. In 2004, he helped start Yelp, an online social networking and review service, and is their largest shareholder as of 2012.[5] He is involved with other companies as well, for example serving on the board of director for Yahoo!.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Kiev, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) to a Jewish family, he moved to the United States under political asylum,[6][7][8] and settled in Chicago in 1991.[8] In an interview with Emily Chang of Bloomberg, Max discussed his overcoming adversity as a child. He had respiratory problems and doctors doubted his chance of living. Per his role "Role Model Grandma" and his parents he took up a woodwind instrument, the clarinet in this case, to expand his lung capacity.[citation needed] He attended Mather High School and then earned his bachelor in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1997 and co-founded two companies that made Internet-tools, NetMeridian Software and SponsorNet New Media.[8]

Business career[edit]

Cofounding PayPal (1998)[edit]

See also: PayPal Mafia

In the summer of 1995, while still in college, Luke Nosek co-founded SponsorNet New Media, Inc., along with fellow Illinois students Levchin and Scott Banister.[9] In 1998, Levchin founded Fieldlink with John Bernard Powers (who left the company shortly thereafter) and Peter Thiel. After changing the company name to Confinity, they developed a popular payment product known as PayPal. After a merger with, the combined entity was renamed PayPal Inc.[citation needed] In 1998, in total Luke Nosek, Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Ken Howery, and Levchin co-founded PayPal.[9] PayPal Inc. went public in February 2002, and was subsequently acquired by eBay. Levchin worked there with Peter Thiel, Roelof Botha, David Sacks, and many other members of the PayPal Mafia. Levchin's 2.3% stake in PayPal was worth approximately $34 million at the time of the acquisition.[10] In 2002, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35, as well as Innovator of the Year.[4] He is primarily known for his contributions to PayPal's anti-fraud efforts[3] and is also the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test, one of the first commercial implementations of a CAPTCHA.

Slide, Yelp websites (2004)[edit]

Main articles: Slide (website) and Yelp, Inc.
Max Levchin seen playing Guitar Hero at a conference.

In 2004, Levchin founded Slide,[11] a personal media-sharing service for social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Slide was sold to Google in August 2010 for $182 Million[12] and, on August 25, Levchin joined as Vice President of Engineering.[13] On 26 August 2011, Google announced it was shutting down Slide, and that Levchin was leaving the company.[14]

In 2004, he helped start Yelp, an online social networking and review service. He is their largest shareholder, owning more than 7 million shares as of 2012.[5] Since Yelp's founding in July 2004, he has served on their Board of Directors as Chairman.[15]

Board at Evernote (2006)[edit]

See also: Evernote

On August 7, 2006, Max was appointed to the board of directors of Evernote where he is also an investor.[16]

Founding HVF and Affirm (2011-2015)[edit]

Main articles: Affirm (company) and Yahoo!

In late 2011, Max Levchin started a company called HVF (standing for Hard, Valuable, and Fun) that was intended to explore and fund projects and companies in the area of leveraging data, such as data from analog sensors.[17][18] In early 2012 Affirm was spun out of HVF, with the goal of building the next generation credit network. In 2013, HVF launched Glow, an infertility app that helps couples conceive naturally. In May 2013, HVF helped launch Glow, a company with an eponymous app to help parents conceive babies.[19][20]

Levchin currently serves as the CEO and co-founder of Affirm, a financial technologies company. Created in 2012 by Levchin, Palantir Technologies co-founder Nathan Gettings, and Jeff Kaditz of First Data, Affirm is based in San Francisco.[citation needed]

Board at Yahoo! (2012-2015)[edit]

In December 2012, Max joined Yahoo's Board of Directors.[21]

Film and writing[edit]

Levchin was an executive producer for the movie Thank You for Smoking. Levchin is collaborating with Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel on The Blueprint, a book calling for a revival of world innovation. Thiel and Levchin expounded on their thesis in an interview during TechCrunch Disrupt.[22] The book, originally scheduled for a January 2012 release, has been postponed.

In the media[edit]

Levchin has appeared as a speaker at the Startup School organized by Y Combinator, where he describes his own journey as an entrepreneur and the mistakes he made and lessons he learned.[23] Levchin was also featured in "Brilliant Issue" of Portfolio by Condé Nast Publications.[citation needed] Levchin did a full-length interview with Charlie Rose in 2013.[24]


Max Levchin was listed as one of the contributors to, a Silicon Valley-based lobbying group spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Green. The group is intended to concentrate on immigration liberalization for high-skilled immigrants to the United States, improvements to education, and facilitating technological breakthroughs with broad public benefits.[25] Levchin also narrated his personal experience as an immigrant in a video released by the group.[26]

Personal life[edit]

In 2008 he married his longtime girlfriend, Nellie Minkova.[8][27] He has two children.

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Max R. Levchin in San Francisco, CA | Paypal - Entrepreneur | Profile at PeekYou. Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  2. ^ Yahoo - Board of Directors. Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  3. ^ a b Max Levchin: Online Fraud-Buster, Business Week Online, October 1, 2002
  4. ^ a b "2002 Young Innovators Under 35: Max Levchin, 26". Technology Review. 2002. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Who Got Rich This Week: Chief Yelper Levchin, An Ohio Barrel Heiress And More. Forbes (2012-03-30). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  6. ^ BBC News Video Interview in Start-Up Stories
  7. ^ Hareetz: "One day in Silicon Valley" by Guy Rolnick August 3, 2010
  8. ^ a b c d New York Times: "After Succeeding, Young Tycoons Try, Try Again" By GARY RIVLIN October 28, 2007
  9. ^ a b Plotkin, Hal (September 8, 1999). "Beam Me Up Some Cash". 
  10. ^ SEC Info - Ebay Inc - S-4 - On 8/6/02
  11. ^ Slide - slideshows, slide shows, photo sharing, image hosting, widgets, MySpace codes, web publishing, music - Slide
  12. ^ Google Buys Slide for $182 Million, Getting More Serious about Social Games*. TechCrunch (2010-08-04). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  13. ^ PayPal and Slide Co-founder Becomes a Google VP of Engineering. (2010-08-26). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  14. ^ "Google to Shut Slide Apps as Slide Founder Departs". The New York Times. August 26, 2011. 
  15. ^ Corporate Governance - Biography | Investor Relations | Yelp. Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  16. ^ "Esther Dyson, Max Levchin Join EverNote Board of Directors". Business Wire. August 7, 2006. 
  17. ^ "HVF". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  18. ^ Wauters, Robin (2013-01-21). "Geeking out on data: Max Levchin talks about his HVF project at DLD13". The Next Web. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  19. ^ "Glow - About". Glow. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  20. ^ Feltman, Rachel (2013-08-02). "The co-founder of PayPal wants to put a baby in you". Quartz. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  21. ^ "Yahoo! Appoints Entrepreneur Max Levchin to Board of Directors". Business Wire. December 13, 2012. 
  22. ^ Rip Empson (2011-09-12). "Max Levchin and Peter Thiel: Innovation In The World Today Is Between Dire Straits And Dead". TechCrunch. 
  23. ^ "Start-up advice for entrepreneurs, from Y Combinator Startup School". 
  24. ^ Charlie Rose, Season 21 Episode 235: An hour with Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal on his latest project, tech incubator HVF.
  25. ^ " "Our Supporters". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  26. ^ "Stories". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  27. ^ Upstart Business Journal: "Mid-day Bytes: AOL, Max Levchin's Wedding, PacketVideo Triumphs" by Andrea Chalupa September 29, 2008

External links[edit]