Before Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman were billionaire investor-entrepreneurs, they were executives at PayPal in the 1990s. They, and over a dozen other early executives at the company, including Max Levchin, David Sacks, and Keith Rabois, have become known as the PayPal Mafia, Silicon Valley’s most famous network of serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
Youtube. Tesla. SpaceX. Palantir. LinkedIn. Yelp. Members of the PayPal Mafia founded them all. The have also founded venture capital firms like Founders Fund and Valar Ventures, and joined firms including Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Greylock Partners. They have been major investors in Facebook, Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Square, Pinterest, Stripe, and most other unicorns Silicon Valley has produced in the past two decades.
The Mafia has inspired substantial media coverage over the years, but there has not been a thorough catalog of its investments. Using data available from Crunchbase, Dow, and media reports of investments, we have compiled what we believe to be a quite comprehensive database of Mafia investment activity. Our dataset includes the investor, the company being invested in, and the date of investment; we’ve added indicator variables to show if a company receives investments from multiple Mafia members and show the investors in common.
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