The “PayPal mafia” photographed at Tosca in San Francisco, October, 2007. “The group is decked out in gold chains and tracksuits, smoking cigars, drinking Maker’s Mark.”
The “mafia” were back row from left: Jawed Karim, co-founder of Youtube; Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp CEO; Andrew McCormack, Laiola Restaurant managing partner; Premal Shah, President of Kiva; 2nd row from left: Luke Nosek, The Founders Fund managing partner; Kenny Howery, The Founders Fund managing partner; David Sacks, CEO of Geni and Room 9 Entertainment; Peter Thiel, CEO of Clarium Capital and Founders Fund; Keith Rabois, VP Business Development at Slide and original Youtube investor; Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn; Max Levchin, CEO of Slide; Roelof Botha, Sequoia Capital partner; Russel Simmons, CTO and co-founder of Yelp.
Max Levchin, a UIUC 1997 graduate in computer science, delivered the keynote at commencement in May. In announcing the choice, Chancellor Robert Jones termed Ukrainian-born Levchin “an inspiring entrepreneur.”
After four start-up failures during college and immediately after, Levchin moved to Silicon Valley, “since that’s where all my friends go, and sometimes their companies don’t fail.” There he co-founded PayPal, the money transfer service in 1998, and which eBay bought for $1.5 billion in 2002.
His PayPal co-founder was Peter Thiel, a Stanford grad and Silicon Valley billionaire. At Stanford (BA ’89, JD ’92), Thiel co-founded in 1987 the Stanford Review, a long-lived student conservative publication. Notable for his far right-wing, libertarian views, Thiel first came to national attention when he gave a prime-time speech at the 2016 Republican convention supporting Donald Trump, virtually the only Silicon Valley entrepreneur to back Trump.