When I was 15, my first wish was to get a huge car, a snapback, and a casual woman. At the other end of the world, some other disruptive kids had that dream too, but, rather than trying to write some papers to become the next Paul Carr, they have built no less than 7 Unicorn firms. Welcome to the PayPal Mafia.
First of all, let me go through PayPal history. At the last of the previous decade, two tech firms from San Francisco were merging: X.com (headed by Elon Musk) and Confinity (headed by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin). Both specialized in a banking system, the merging gave birth to PayPal, officially launched in 2000.
Cause of the PayPal mafia
One of the better things you have in your startup is probably the working environment. After leveraging millions of cash and hiring 200 employees, you may imagine that your startup’s mood is well established… But guess what? Ebay acquired PayPal after its IPO in 2002, and as a consequence, baby foot, free diet food and all PayPal culture disappeared.
“Basically, we were kicked out of our homeland and they burned down our temple. So, we were scattered to the four corners of the globe, and we had to make new homes.” That’s how David Sacks, former COO of PayPal described what is done.
Ten years after the IPO, you have Tesla Motors, Linkedin, Palantir, SpaceX, Yelp, Youtube and Yammer. Seven companies valued more than one billion dollars each and founded by the corporate alumni of PayPall. Pablo Escobar better watch out.
Spread the Mafia
Beyond their PHD degree and their Mr. Robot style, their ability to innovate is incredible. One of the most staggering is probably Reid Hoffman, the embodiment of entrepreneurship. After bringing Linkedin public, he gave the CEO’s position to Jeff Weiner to carry on his startup life. He has this business instinct which is common to this entire group: he actually organized the first meeting between Zuckerberg and “Don” Peter Thiel, the godfather himself and incidentally, the first investor of Facebook.
Business runs like that, you have some gurus leading innovation. Look at the impressive number of startups trying to be the next Uber of something, imitating the older boys. Inspiration starts somewhere and this somewhere belongs today to the “mafia”. According to many queries from Quora, the next wave of gurus could appear ASAP. You should hurry up, because this place is scarce.
Picture from fortune.com