A definitive, deeply reported look at the origin story of PayPal and the creation of the “PayPal Mafia,” a group that includes Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and Max Levchin, among many others. Out of PayPal came the most powerful players in Silicon Valley and a new template for entrepreneurship in our modern age.
Today, the world knows them as the “PayPal Mafia.” Out of the founding employees of PayPal have come billionaire start-up executives, Academy Award–winning producers, and high government officials. Together, they constitute the most influential network in Silicon Valley, responsible for forming, funding, or advising two decades worth of major tech companies from SpaceX to Facebook, YouTube to Yelp, Palantir to LinkedIn, and many more.
And yet, for all that, the story of the company where they all first met has gone untold. Before they became a “mafia,” they were the unknown, uncertain creators of the company PayPal. In The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley, award-winning author and biographer Jimmy Soni explores the earliest venture of some of today’s foremost business titans. Based on hundreds of interviews and with unprecedented access to thousands of pages of never-before-seen material, Soni’s narrative digs deep into the founding of a company whose creators have changed how we use the internet and technology today. It is a story of sweeping, nail-biting entrepreneurial success—the definitive account of how a generation of technology founders came to learn and practice their craft.
Jimmy Soni is an award-winning author. His last book, A Mind At Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, won the 2017 Neumann Prize, awarded by the British Society for the History of Mathematics for the best book on the history of mathematics for a general audience. It also received the Middleton Prize by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, for exceptional scholarship that appeals to a broad public. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his daughter, Venice.