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PayPal to lay off 325 employees and 120 contractors (businesswire.com)
58 points by techinsidr 1851 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

What exactly were all those people doing? I've been using PayPal for years and it looks, feels, and works exactly the same now as it did five years ago. The process to setup Buy Now buttons hasn't changed. The complexity of setting up the advanced payment system hasn't changed.

So what exactly were those guys working on to actually improve the business for their customers?

I really don't know, but nevertheless I will make some guess:

* Improve the scam detector

* Reduce the false positives of the scam detector

* Test the interface in all the new versions of all the major browsers

* Maintain the localization for a worldwide service

* Fix the interface every time a second class bank in a third world country decides to change the internal system

* Fix the tax algorithms and another law related restrictions for every state/country.

* Do we really need a backup system?

None of them are very visible outside the company, but they are vital.

The fact that the Buy Now buttons haven't changed in years is called stability, something you want from the company processing payments on tens of millions of websites. A couple of the things they've done for their quarter billion users since the eBay acquisition:

* Lowered transaction fees for volume merchants to 1.9%

* Partnered with many of the largest payment gateways to add PayPal to their services

* Introduced PayPal mobile and NFC phone-to-phone payments

* Introduced micropayments

* Introduced two-factor authentication

* Got their European Union banking license and expanded to 100+ new countries

* Began offering PayPal Buyer Credit (transactional lines of credit)

* Moved into retail stores, accepting PayPal at credit card terminals in-store of 6 national retail chains and growing

* Began offering a mobile card reader to accept payments into a PayPal account

* Introduced student accounts with parental controls

* Opened their API for development of peer-to-peer payment services

* Introduced virtual, one-time-use credit card numbers

* Began offering merchant gift certificates

* Introduced a "storefront widget" that could be embedded in websites

* Began offering SMS-based authentication

* Began offering a virtual terminal for manually keying in offline/phone orders

* Introduced PayPal Pro and the ability to store payment authorizations you can charge against in the future (i.e. a payment vault with permission controlled by the customer).

I'm sure there's lots I'm forgetting. They still operate in dozens of countries where there are zero alternatives for individuals/small businesses to accept credit and bank payments online. Operating in 190 countries, many of which regulate them as a full-fledged bank, takes a lot of offices and a lot of staff.

10 years ago you could add a Buy Now button to your website. Today PayPal covers just about any payment scenario online and off:

* Take payments on your website, redirecting to PayPal for zero PCIDSS compliance burden

* Take payments directly on your website with PayPal's multiple server-side APIs

* Handle micropayments, recurring bills and usage-based bills with a payment token you only have to authorize once

* Take payments at your cafe with a swipe reader on your smartphone or tablet

* Take payments by phone or mail order with the virtual terminal

* Mass pay others by uploading a spreadsheet/CSV or by API

* Pay friends or send gifts from your smartphone

* Pay with PayPal at major retail chains with your phone number and PIN code

* All with a lower effective transaction rate than at least 90% of most small businesses would pay anywhere else

So they're doing more than ever before, for more businesses than ever before (judging by their revenues), while reducing their fees instead of increasing them. Why does the sexiness of their developer documents or New Buy Now Button Wizard matter more to you?


The quote about PayPal (and all institutions which deal with money) being like an iceberg ring true here. Anyone have the link?

My thoughts as well.

Other than the recent front end redesign, PayPal's interface and overall product has not changed since I started using it 5 or 6 years ago.

They've had a lot of new mobile stuff recently.

Has that made it any less usable?

In my opinion (and experience), it was barely usable the first day I started using it. I'd think by now they'd have thought about making it any amount of slightly more usable.

Checking transactions manually, one by one.

Serious question: How does laying off 325 product and technology employees get presented as speeding up how products are developed? Is there a kernel of truth hiding there, or is that just a polite complete lie?

While not necessarily true here, one could argue that developer bloat could lead to a slow down in product completion.

As a developer using services PayPal regularly, I hope that this does lead to an improvement of there service. Otherwise, we've been fleeced by corporate PR babble yet again.

On a side note, the rise of companies like Stripe and Square might have given the higher-ups pause. These should have been spaces where PayPal was the innovative leader, not lemmings.

Cutting back on bloated tech staff could absolutely help speed up new product development for all the usual Mythical Man Month reasons.... in theory.

I've never seen it work in practice. In practice, in my experience, layoffs never target exactly the right set of dead weight. Company politics always come into play and you end up with a situation where some of the right people got axed, but not enough and worse sometimes the layoffs hit people who are actually great producers but who weren't visible enough to upper management to be spared. And once this event occurs it tends to have a ripple effect among the survivors -- nobody really feels safe and so everyone starts considering other opportunities and naturally your best talent has the easiest time of landing new jobs so they're among the first out the door, and now you're on a downward spiral of fucked.

// layoffs never target exactly the right set of dead weight// This is exactly what happened today. This layoff is not based on performance (as communicated by the internal email from the director). Several top performers are asked to leave, while under performers are still there.

I experienced this exact situation a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I wasn't laid off but it did spark incentive for me to find a new employer. I landed a great position at a new company a couple weeks later and feel much happier now. I've heard through the grapevine that the megacorp I worked for is now in the downward spiral of 'fucked'.

Yea I did a similar thing, but once I got the new job with an awesome raise, it made me think - "should I have applied and interviewed at a lot more places if it was that easy?"

Maybe eliminating some of the layers between conception and deployment? I've worked at a megacorp before and I can say with confidence that big bloated teams are all to often where great and innovative ideas go to die.

There more people there are, the more complex the processes and procedures becomes. This is why big corporations are seen as slow usually.

I believe (although I have no inside info to support the theory) that this is part of a push at Paypal to respond to the challenges presented by smaller, younger, more agile competitors like those at Stripe and Square.

Add to the fray Apple's Passbook and I think that Paypal is scrambling to secure their ecommerce throne.

another anonymous video yet to be published?

My first reaction: PayPal employed more than 450 people?

Apparently, yes. According to Wikipedia in 2007 they employed 2000 people.

I think not 450 it is about 10% of the company. Don`t forget that they employ worldwide and it is interesting where they will lay off in the US or abroad.

dear PayPal, please improve the UI design of your site. :)

Nothing against these employees, but PayPal is a bad company and needs to die

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