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Successful Technology Companies Founded By Famous ”PayPal Mafia’

| Published on November 22, 2020

There is hardly anyone who has not heard the term ‘PayPal.’ It is one of the world’s first and most successful online money transaction platforms that created waves across the tech industry.

The people behind PayPal, though, had much more to offer to the world and are now some of the biggest names in tech.

The Early Days

PayPal was established in 1998, originally, as Confinity by co-founders Peter Thiel, Mark Levchin, and Luke Nosek. Initially, it started out as a developer of security softwares for handheld devices.

After the model proved to be unsuccessful, the team decided to shake things up and turned it into a digital wallet with the first version of the electronic payment system being launched in 1999.

It immediately attracted the attention of everyone in Silicon Valley including Elon Musk, the founder of, an online banking company. He saw the potential and decided to join Thiel and the PayPal team and thus merged the two companies.

After a highly successful run, the company was purchased by eBay for a staggering valuation of $1.5 billion in 2002.

The emergence of the ‘Mafia’

Initially, it had just 50 employees, including founders Peter Thiel, Mark Levchin, and Luke Nosek. Most of them were finding the transition from the tech-centered environment at to the more corporate one of eBay, difficult. Gradually, over a period of 4 years, 38 of the employees left the company for other ventures.

These employees went on to contribute massively towards the development of several tech platforms including YouTube, SpaceX, Yelp, and many more. Their work had such an impact that they soon came to be referred as the ‘PayPal Mafia’ within the tech world.

Their Role Today

As of today, several members of the ‘PayPal Mafia’ are household names even beyond Silicon Valley. The members of the group are some of the richest people in the tech industry and their innovations and ideas have made the tech industry jump several spaces ahead of where it was until two decades back.

Almost all of the 50 original PayPal employees have worked together on different instances and continue to do so.

Some of the Mafia Members’ Achievements

  • Elon Musk went on to co-found Tesla Inc, and SpaceX, the likes of which the global industry had never seen.
  • Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, and Chad Hurley, after leaving PayPal, became the co-founders of YouTube, one of the most successful online video platforms in 2005.
  • Keith Rabois is credited with several advancements in the platforms of LinkedIn, YouTube, and Yelp amongst others.
  • Premal Shah became the founding president of, a popular crowdfunding platform.
  • Russel Simmons and Jeremy Stoppelman co-founded Yelp Inc
  • Yishan Wong went on to work at Facebook and contributed to several advancements before becoming the CEO of Reddit.

Other than the ones mentioned, there are dozens of other achievements that have been credited to the members of the ‘PayPal Mafia’. Collectively, they are often praised for helping with the growth of internet-based companies after the massive drop in their stocks in 2001 (often referred to as the ‘dot-com bust’).

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