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. 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.[permanent dead link]
  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 2009-01-24. 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 2014-09-23.
  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.
  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.