PayPal Mafia

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Members of the PayPal Mafia on Fortune magazine dressed in mafia-like attire. From left to right, top to bottom: Jawed Karim, Jeremy Stoppelman, Andrew McCormack, Premal Shah, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, David Sacks, Peter Thiel, Keith Rabois, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, Roelof Botha, Russel Simmons

"PayPal Mafia" is a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and developed additional technology companies[1] such as Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, YouTube, Yelp, and Yammer.[2] Most of the members attended Stanford University or University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign at some point in their studies. Six members; Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, and Keith Rabois; have become billionaires.


Originally, PayPal was a money-transfer service offered by a company called Confinity which was acquired by in 1999. Later was renamed PayPal and purchased by eBay in 2002.[3][4] The original PayPal employees had difficulty adjusting to eBay's more traditional corporate culture and within four years all but 12 of the first 50 employees had left.[5] They remained connected as social and business acquaintances,[5] and a number of them worked together to form new companies in subsequent years. This group of PayPal alumni became so prolific that the term PayPal Mafia was coined.[3] The term[4][6] gained even wider exposure when a 2007 article in Fortune magazine used the phrase in its headline and featured a photo of former PayPal employees in gangster attire.[4][7][8][9]


The PayPal Mafia is sometimes credited with inspiring the re-emergence of consumer-focused Internet companies after the dot-com bust of 2001.[10] The PayPal Mafia phenomenon has been compared to the founding of Intel in the late 1960s by engineers who had earlier founded Fairchild Semiconductor after leaving Shockley Semiconductor.[3] They are discussed in journalist Sarah Lacy's book Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good. According to Lacy, the selection process and technical learning at PayPal played a role, but the main factor behind their future success was the confidence they gained there. Their success has been attributed to their youth; the physical, cultural, and economic infrastructure of Silicon Valley; and the diversity of their skill-sets.[3] PayPal's founders encouraged tight social bonds among its employees, and many of them continued to trust and support one another after leaving PayPal.[3] An intensely competitive environment and a shared struggle to keep the company solvent despite many setbacks also contributed to a strong and lasting camaraderie amongst former employees.[3][11]


Individuals whom the media refers to as members of the PayPal Mafia include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff Writer. "David Sacks: Biography". Wall Street Journal online. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Duke Harris (October 22, 2009). "PayPal finally poised to enter Web 2.0". San Jose Mercury News.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Miguel Helft (October 17, 2006). "It Pays to Have Pals in Silicon Valley". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d e O'Brien, Jeffrey M. (November 26, 2007). "Meet the PayPal mafia". Fortune. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d Rachel Rosmarin (July 12, 2006). "The PayPal Exodus". Fortune.
  6. ^ "Thiel, Levchin and the PayPal Mafia". Fortune. November 15, 2007. Archived from the original on September 3, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "More PayPal Mafia Mugshots". ValleyWag. Archived from the original on February 18, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c "Why Elon Musk isn't in Fortune's PayPal Mafia picture". Valleywag. Archived from the original on January 24, 2009. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Paypal Mafia Personified". Valleywag. Archived from the original on July 5, 2009.
  10. ^ Marcus Banks (May 16, 2008). "Nonfiction review: 'Once You're Lucky'". San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. ^ Dylan Tweney (November 15, 2007). "How PayPal Gave Rise to a Silicon Valley 'Mafia'". Wired.
  12. ^ O'Brien, Jeffrey M. (November 26, 2007). "Meet the PayPal mafia". CNN Money. Archived from the original on August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  13. ^ Ari Levy (February 21, 2012). "'PayPal Mafia' Gets Richer: Yelp and Facebook's IPOs will give another boost to Silicon Valley's influential PayPal alumni". Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
  14. ^ David Gelles (April 2, 2015). "The PayPal Mafia's Golden Touch". New York Times.
  15. ^ a b c d e "The PayPal Mafia: Who are they and where are Silicon Valley's richest group of men now?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  16. ^ "Steve Chen Biography". A&E Television Networks. April 2, 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  17. ^
  18. ^ J.J. Colao (March 2, 2012). "Aviary is Quietly Cornering a Billion-Dollar Market". Forbes.
  19. ^ "". Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  20. ^ Scott Duke Harris (November 2, 2009). "Greylock raises $575M fund, adds LinkedIn's Hoffman as partner". San Jose Mercury News.
  21. ^ "Ken Howery « Founders Fund". Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  22. ^ "". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  23. ^ "Dr. Rod Martin to Speak at 2015 Commencement". Hannibal LaGrange University. Archived from the original on January 17, 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  24. ^ "Where Are They Now? The PayPal "Mafia" Is More Powerful Than Ever". BusinessInsider.
  25. ^ "Dave McClure Hits 500". BusinessInsider. June 27, 2013.
  26. ^ "Andrew McCormack Partner". Archived from the original on September 23, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  27. ^ "Luke Nosek « Founders Fund". Archived from the original on September 16, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  28. ^ Sam Biddle (December 4, 2013). "Revealed: A PayPal Mafioso Is Behind "Tips For Jesus" Giving Spree". Valleywag.
  29. ^ Dan Fost (May 21, 2008). "The Coffee Was Lousy. The Wait Was Long". The New York Times.
  30. ^ Sarah Lacy (April 7, 2008). "Something to Yelp About". Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
  31. ^ "How did Yishan Wong get recruited to PayPal?". Quora.