The original group of PayPal founders and employees who have gone on to become one of the most successful groups of individuals in the world. The portfolio of companies they’ve founded includes; Tesla, Youtube, Space X, Linkedin, Yelp, and Founders Fund, to name a few.
“PayPal Mafia” is a term used to indicate a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and developed additional technology companies such as Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, YouTube, Yelp, and Yammer. 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 X.com in 1999. Later X.com was renamed PayPal and purchased by eBay in 2002. 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. They remained connected as social and business acquaintances, 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. The term 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.
The PayPal Mafia is sometimes credited with inspiring the re-emergence of consumer-focused Internet companies after the dot-com bust of 2001. 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. 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. PayPal’s founders encouraged tight social bonds among its employees, and many of them continued to trust and support one another after leaving PayPal. 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.
It seems clear that it is beyond coincidence that some of the most successful companies and individuals in the world are all rooted in the same Corporate institution. This awareness exposes the nature of Corporate Capitalism as the main mechanism by which the ruling elite enrich themselves and increase their power. Oh, and you and I ain’t invited to the party.