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

The "PayPal Mafia" is a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and/or developed additional technology companies based in Silicon Valley[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 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] 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.[4] They remained connected as social and business acquaintances,[4] and a number of them worked together to form new companies and venture firms in subsequent years. This group of PayPal alumni became so prolific that the term PayPal Mafia was coined.[3] The term[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.[5]


Individuals whom the media refers to as members of the PayPal Mafia include:[5][4]


The PayPal Mafia is sometimes credited with inspiring the re-emergence of consumer-focused Internet companies after the dot-com bust of 2001.[7] 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][8]


Some members of the group, such as Peter Thiel, David O. Sachs and Elon Musk, later expressed libertarian and conservative political views.[9]

See also


  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 Helft, Miguel (October 17, 2006). "It Pays to Have Pals in Silicon Valley". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c Soni, Jimmy (2022). The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1501197260.
  5. ^ a b c "The PayPal Mafia". Fortune. November 13, 2007.
  6. ^ Gelles, David (April 1, 2015). "The PayPal Mafia's Golden Touch". New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  7. ^ Banks, Marcus (May 16, 2008). "Nonfiction review: 'Once You're Lucky'". San Francisco Chronicle.
  8. ^ Tweney, Dylan (November 15, 2007). "How PayPal Gave Rise to a Silicon Valley 'Mafia'". Wired.
  9. ^ Silverman, Jacob; Grant, Melissa Gira; Grant, Melissa Gira; Shephard, Alex; Shephard, Alex; Linkins, Jason; Linkins, Jason; Sargent, Greg; Sargent, Greg (October 18, 2022). "The Quiet Political Rise of David Sacks, Silicon Valley's Prophet of Urban Doom". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved March 16, 2024.

Further reading