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A Look at the PayPal Mafia’s Continued Impact on Silicon Valley (venturebeat.com)
50 points by pionerkotik 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments



Maybe I live in a bubble, but IMHO investment statistics shouldn't be divided in only male and female. I'd also be interested in:

- country of origin (e.g. immigrants, I'd imagine a lot of them to be Indian or first or second generation immigrants of some sort)

- Domain/Field

- Applications/vs. accepted investments. I think the ratio might be a lot more important than the actual number of investments.

Tracking half that information is probably illegal in the US.

Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is the use of the word Mafia. I think clique is the right word. Sure, I would like to be a part of that club as well and yeah I'm jealous as well, but calling people that profited from a tech boom they actively participated in a criminal organization is a bit of a stretch.

- a hierarchically structured secret organization allegedly engaged in smuggling, racketeering, trafficking in narcotics, and other criminal activities in the U.S., Italy, and elsewhere. (in Sicily)

- ( lowercase )a popular spirit of hostility to legal restraint and to the law, often manifesting itself in criminal acts.

- a 19th-century secret society, similar to the Camorra in Naples, that acted in this spirit.

- ( often lowercase ) any small powerful or influential group in an organization or field; clique.


The article indicates that this is what the group is already known as, it didn't come up with the term.

That said, "a popular spirit of hostility to legal restraint and to the law" sounds indistinguishable from how AirBnB, Uber & co operate.


I don't disagree and to be honest Uber did actually operate like a Mafia. Although I don't know if that's still the case. Rarely do we read it being labeled that way however.

And while the group is called PayPal Mafia, the article specifically keeps using that term over and over.

Besides the 5 times PayPal Mafia has been used in the article in compound there is a total 24 times the Mafia word has been used alone. That's a very clear framing of the article and most paragraphs contain it at least once.


While I won't deny that Uber has a tendency to be scofflaws and engage in dubious business practices it stinks of hyperbole unless there were cases of extortion and outright murder we don't know about (even if they were negligent in self-driving car deaths that doesn't qualify).

The article certainly feels like the editorial stance in the Daily Bugle towards Spiderman given how they grasp so hard at a mere 2% difference and the guilt by association.


> unless there were cases of extortion and outright murder we don't know about

You don't need violence to run a Mafia. Makes things easier, yeah, but open violence primarily attracts cops.

On corporate scale, there are far more attractive and especially legal things available: use price dumping backed by cheap VC cash to force your competitors to either match or close down (which is the entire business model of Uber), buy up competitors before they get dangerous and/or copy popular ideas from them (just watch what FB did to Instagram and Whatsapp, and how it then used that mass to strangle Snapchat), prevent key employees from switching companies (which they all did via NDAs or secret agreements), buy up key suppliers or lock them into exclusive agreements (sort of what Tesla is attempting to do with the Gigafactory), force restaurant operators to pay with cash to have fraudulent "user reviews" removed, ...


So 13 percent of their investment targets had at least one female founder which corresponds with the industry as a whole quite closely (15.5 percent).

They don't seem to be contributing either way, just following the status quo. Primary reasons may just as well lie elsewhere. Are less females trying to raise capital? Or are they raising capital differently that may cause this effect (different industries/motivations/methods)?


> The Mafia is all-male and has been accused of contributing to the lack of women in the technology industry

Last I checked there is nothing stopping women from doing what these guys did...

Why are these men the gate keepers to success? I don't know all of their stories but it seems that anybody can do what they did...


Asserting that "anyone can do X" and then observing that very few people do X in reality: don't you think there's a contradiction here?

Even if I just read bits of information from Thiel's bio on wikipedia, I see quite a few "not everyone" moments:

" With financial support from friends and family, he was able to raise $1 million toward the establishment of Thiel Capital Management and embark on his venture capital career."

"his luck changed when Max Levchin, a friend of Nosek's, introduced him to his cryptography-related company idea, which later became their first venture called Confinity in 1998"


None of those seem to have anything to do with gender...

Many people have access to a million dollars, not many seem to have good ideas.


It seems hard to leverage wealth made in the early days of the IT boom for power if you didn't gain that wealth back then in the first place.


When was this IT boom exactly? Cause we got companies like Facebook (2004), Slack(2013), GitHub (2008 - now Microsoft, but that's a testament to their success), Atlassian (2002) and others who are still growing and expanding.

Edit: Added years these companies were founded.


They're talking about PayPal mafia [1] in the article. So it's specifically about PayPal, Confinity and X.com.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PayPal_Mafia

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confinity

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X.com


"IT boom" sounds more generic though so I wasn't sure, I am not as familiar with the PayPal Mafia term till this article came about. I may of heard it briefly in the past and dismissed it. I was aware of some of those people running PayPal once upon a time, but I didn't really think too much about it.


Shortly after 2008 till around 2017 was when Silicon Valley, HN, and the start-up world in general surged heavily.

Now I think most people agree it's behind it's ceiling point. (most != all)

Of course before the first internet bubble also companies succeeded, but then when the bubble burst there was a dry phase.


Paypal - 1998.


> Why are these men the gate keepers to success?

The point of this article is how they invest their money not how they founded paypal


And my point is they founded companies without taking money from themselves. So anybody else should be able to do the same as they did.

Further more, why is their money better for founding companies than somebody else's ?

On top of that. What is the suggestion? Sorry Uber I have already invested in my quota of companies founded by men ?

Even more being founders is not a job position nyou hire for. You have to have something to have a idea and plan. The assertion that they are telling women with amazing ideas that they won't invest them because they are woemen is silly.

Not every idea is a good one. They fund founders who they think have good ideas.

This whole article is silly and flame bait. I wish I had never replied.


Thiel got started with just a million dollars from his family. Surely anyone can do that, right?

> The assertion that they are telling women with amazing ideas that they won't invest them because they are woemen is silly.

The judgement of "amazing" is extremely subjective and vulnerable to unconscious bias on the part of those being pitched to.


So you are telling me these were the only guys ever to have friends and family with that sort of cash to help out ?

Many millions are lost every year by friends and families helping start companies that fail.


> Many many many millions are lost every year by friends and families helping start companies that fail.

As you've seen, there is a huge amount of luck involved as well.


But unless luck favors men, it does not explain gender gap.


I think "luck" is mostly a bucket that we put all of the factors we couldn't have properly planned for into, so it seems that unconscious bias expressed by insiders in an industry/movement could easily describe a lot of what we might normally chalk up to "bad luck". My point isn't to say "that is definitely what happened", just that the notion that "luck favors men" isn't as ridiculous of a proposition as you seem to imply.

Put another way, every interaction we have with other people, no matter how brief or long lasting, contributes to that person's "luck" based on whether those interactions ended up favorable or unfavorable. If there was a present unconscious bias in a group that slanted the probability of a person's interactions with everyone else in that group (even if it just slanted it a bit) due to a personal characteristic, that would manifest itself as "bad luck" for group of people that had this characteristic who received this statistical slight.


The story would be more (or less) compelling if a comparison was made to a wider group of VCs and/or an index of VCs who are credited for investing in female founders.


The article does mention a Crunchbase study that found that startups in general have roughly the same proportion of female founded startups as Paypal alumni funded, female founded, startups.

It's slightly odd that the article, which clearly intends to be pejorative, is focused on female founders when the data doesn't say anything interesting about female founders.

You've have thought with such a small dataset, they could have found something that appeared more damning.


As a group they invest in women slightly less often, though not extraordinarily less.

The guy who was an outlier, supporting women founders twice as often as everyone else, was also forced to quit a position because of sexual harassment.




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