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 O. Sacks, Peter Thiel, Keith Rabois, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, Roelof Botha, Russel Simmons. Elon Musk was not able to make the photoshoot due to a scheduling conflict but had an individual shot taken for the profile.

The "PayPal Mafia" is a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and developed additional technology companies[1] such as Tesla, Inc., LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, Affirm, Slide, Kiva, 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.


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.[citation needed] They remained connected as social and business acquaintances,[citation needed] 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][5] 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]


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


The PayPal Mafia is sometimes credited with inspiring the re-emergence of consumer-focused Internet companies after the dot-com bust of 2001.[27] 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 among former employees.[3][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff Writer. "David Sacks: Biography". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Harris, Duke (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 Helft, Miguel (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. ^ "Thiel, Levchin and the PayPal Mafia". Fortune. November 15, 2007. Archived from the original on September 3, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Rachel Rosmarin (July 12, 2006). "The PayPal Exodus". Fortune.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b "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. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Steve Chen Biography". A&E Television Networks. April 2, 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  12. ^ J.J. Colao (March 2, 2012). "Aviary is Quietly Cornering a Billion-Dollar Market". Forbes.
  13. ^ "". Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  14. ^ Scott Duke Harris (November 2, 2009). "Greylock raises $575M fund, adds LinkedIn's Hoffman as partner". San Jose Mercury News.
  15. ^ "Ken Howery « Founders Fund". Archived from the original on August 11, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  16. ^ "". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  17. ^ "Where Are They Now? The PayPal "Mafia" Is More Powerful Than Ever". BusinessInsider.
  18. ^ "Dave McClure Hits 500". BusinessInsider. June 27, 2013.
  19. ^ "Andrew McCormack Partner". Archived from the original on September 23, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  20. ^ "Luke Nosek « Founders Fund". Archived from the original on September 16, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  21. ^ Brehse, Tami (November 24, 2019). "The 'PayPal Mafia' formed in the early 2000s, and includes everyone from Elon Musk to the Yelp founders. Here's where the original members have ended up". Business Insider. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  22. ^ "More PayPal Mafia Mugshots". ValleyWag. Archived from the original on February 18, 2010.
  23. ^ Dan Fost (May 21, 2008). "The Coffee Was Lousy. The Wait Was Long". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Sarah Lacy (April 7, 2008). "Something to Yelp About". Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
  25. ^ "How did Yishan Wong get recruited to PayPal?". Quora.
  26. ^ Granato, Andrew (January 13, 2019). "A look at the PayPal Mafia's continued impact on Silicon Valley". VentureBeat. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  27. ^ Banks, Marcus (May 16, 2008). "Nonfiction review: 'Once You're Lucky'". San Francisco Chronicle.
  28. ^ Tweney, Dylan (November 15, 2007). "How PayPal Gave Rise to a Silicon Valley 'Mafia'". Wired.