The 'PayPal Mafia' formed in the early 2000s, and includes everyone from Elon Musk to the Yelp founders. Here's where the original members have ended up by Tami Brehse

TL;DR - Early PayPal employees (the “PayPal mafia”) have since founded many influential startups and VC funds, shaping Silicon Valley since the early 2000s.

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Tags - notable investors, notable founders, vc history

Questions addressed:

  • Who were the “PayPal mafia”?
  • What impact did they have on Silicon Valley and the venture capital industry?


  • The entrepreneurs who founded PayPal (the so-called “PayPal mafia”) have gone on to shape Silicon Valley through successful ventures of their own.
  • Peter Thiel (PayPal CEO) founded VC firm Founders Fund, as well as big data startup Palantir.
  • Max Levchin (PayPal CTO) became chairman of Yelp and CEO of fintech Affirm.
  • Ken Howery (PayPal CFO) worked for eBay before co-founding Founders Fund with Thiel.
  • Elon Musk (PayPal CEO) founded Tesla and SpaceX.
  • Reid Hoffman (PayPal COO) founded LinkedIn.
  • Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen (engineers) founded YouTube.
  • Jack Selby (PayPal VP) founded Clarium Capital Management with Thiel.
  • Dave McClure (marketing) founded VC firm 500 Startups.

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