Why Did So Many Successful Entrepreneurs And Startups Come Out Of PayPal?

musk scratching headTesla CEO Elon Musk had a stint at PayPal

Why did so many successful entrepreneurs and startups come out of PayPal?Talent:  Peter and Max assembled an unusual critical mass of entrepreneurial talent, primarily due to their ability to recognise young people with extraordinary ability (the median age of *execs* on the S1 filing was 30).  But the poor economy allowed us to close an abnormal number of offers, as virtually nobody other than eBay and (in part) google was hiring in 2000-02.

Culture & Ideology: 
Peter/Max/David (for the most part) had very strong beliefs in the type of culture that would fuel an entrepreneurial enterprise, many of these views were unorthodox, but history has proven them to be correct.

eBay:  Virtually anyone with talent hated working at eBay, so we all left PayPal rapidly (days/weeks/months) after the acquisition which enabled us to start new things instead of treading water in a large company. 

Macro views of the future of the Web:  This may be difficult to believe, but in 2003 and even during part of 2004, virtually nobody believed that there was going to be a new wave of innovation online.  Peter and Reid were virtually the only ones writing substantial checks to finance “crazy” new ventures (Sequoia was, but not really other VCs).
This created a magnet to the PayPal crowd for new entrepreneurs.

Pressure:  PayPal was a very difficult business with many major issues to solve.  We were able to see our colleagues work under extreme pressure and hence we learned who we could rely on and trust.

Keith Rabois is EVP of strategy and business development at Slide. This post was originally published as an answer on Q&A startup Quora and is re-published here with Keith’s permission.

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