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AZ Tech Roundtable 2.0

AZ Tech Roundtable 2.0 with Matt Battaglia

The show where EntrepreneursTop Executives, Founders, and Investors come to share insights about the future of business


AZ TRT 2.0 looks at the new trends in business, & how classic industries are evolving

Common Topics Discussed: Startups, Founders, Funds & Venture Capital, Business, Entrepreneurship, Biotech, Blockchain / Crypto, Executive Comp, Investing, Stocks, Real Estate + Alternative Investments, and more… 


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Aug 10, 2022

PayPal Mafia - The Founders Story & Their Battle w/ EBAY w/ Jimmy Soni 

- BRT S03 EP36 (135) 8-7-2022


What We Learned This Week

  • PayPal Mafia – alumni created or involved many other co’s – Tesla, SpaceX, Palantir, Yelp, Yammer, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube & more
  • PayPal had may contributors & a real long shot to happen during the DOTCOM Crash of 2000
  • Claude Shannon – creator of Information Theory, predecessor to the modern computer age, & algorithms
  • Bell Labs was a classic Tech Incubator like Fairfield Semiconductor, Xerox Parc, Menlo Park – Edison / GE, Manhattan Project, Tuxedo Park
  • PayPal sold to EBAY in 2002 for $1.5 Billion, prior to this, the two companies were rivals as EBAY wanted a different payment system





Guest: Jimmy Soni, Author

My books are passion projects. My topics come because I look for a book to buy on the subject and can’t find one. I know it’s supposed to be fancier than that, or that there must be some grand theory of my work, but there isn’t one. That said, my readers seem to enjoy what I’ve written, so maybe it’s fine?

I am inspired by my literary heroes, including Robert Caro, Laura Hillenbrand, Candice Millard, Daniel James Brown, and Barbara Tuchman, among many others. They are all rigorous researchers—but reading their books doesn’t feel like doing homework. That’s what I’m going for, and hopefully I hit the mark a few times.

For me, books are all-consuming projects, leaving little other time for the things that should populate this section like hobbies, interests, and even the ability to remain in basic touch with people. I enjoy obsessing over a subject for years, and my goal is to find as much information as possible and then make the material readable for a general audience. 

When not writing or reading, I spend time with my daughter in Brooklyn, NY.  If you’d like to connect, please drop me a line at hello [@]


The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley

A definitive, deeply reported look at the origin of PayPal and its founding team, including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, and others whose stories have never before been told.

They defined the modern world.
This experience defined them.

Paypal Mafia  

Elon Musk – Tesla, Space X, Boring Co.

Peter Thiel – 1st FB Investor, AirBnB Investor, Founders Fund, Palantir

Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn (sold to Microsoft)

Max Levchin – Affirm, Investor in Yelp

David O. Sacks – & Yammer

Chad Hurley – YouTube

Russel Simmons – Yelp




A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age

In this elegantly written, exhaustively researched biography, Soni and Goodman reveal Claude Shannon’s full story for the first time. With unique access to Shannon’s family and friends, A Mind at Play brings this singular innovator and always playful genius to life.


How Claude Shannon Invented the Future

Today’s information age is only possible thanks to the groundbreaking work of a lone genius.

A Mind at Play | Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman | Talks at Google



Life in Code and Digits: When Shannon met ... - ScienceOpen

 Shannon is credited with the invention of signal-flow graphs, in 1942. He discovered the topological gain formula while investigating the functional operation of an analog computer. For two months early in 1943, Shannon came into contact with the leading British mathematician Alan Turing.


Ed Thorp, Claude Shannon and the World's First ... - Winton › technology › 2018/07 › ed-t...

Jul 13, 2018 — Thorp, 85, is a former American mathematics professor and hedge fund manager, who became a New York Times bestselling author in 1962 with his ...

The No-Stats All-Star




Claude Shannon Bio – A Mind at Play (2017)

Claude Shannon – mathematician & MIT professor created Father of Information Theory –

How do you make info transferrable, & secure in wartime?

Friend of Alan Turing (British Mathematician), both worked on coding in WW2,

German code breaking scientists became celebrities in WW2 and raised funding

The science behind compressing info, digitizing info and MP3 files, transfer data

Mathematics Theory of Communication, Shannon’s paper and theory considered the Magna Carta of information age. Great paper theoretically and practically. Shannon created algorithm called sigsally.

Imitation Game – WW2 bio movie about Alan Turing

Shannon’s work used for Gun torrents on Navy ships, target projectiles

Bell Labs – math group that Shannon was a part of

Famous Groups of Genius - Menlo Park – Edison/GE, Manhattan Project – Built the A Bomb

Fairfield Semiconductor – predecessor to Intel and other Silicon Valley tech co’s

Bell Labs had money and started as R&D Dept. in Bell Telephone

Bell Telephone ran all land lines in America, had a Fed guaranteed monopoly on the phone system

Bell invented touch tone dialing, transistor, satellite tech, cell tech, communication networks

We are all affected by Bell tech and inventions, modern age owes a solid to Bell

Had big group of talent and could afford all of it, leading scientists of the time.

During WW2 many major U.S. corporations – Bell, Ford were recruited by the US Government.

War effort created urgency – math used to shoot down the enemy.

The Founders – story of PayPal (2022)

Dot Com burst created urgency to Pay Pal, bleeding money, had to survive.

Dotcom crash – companies started 1 day, & BK out of business next day.

Rise like a rocket and crash in 2 years

Next Gen of Genius Teams - Xerox Parc, Microsoft, Apple

Music Producer – Brian Eno coined the term “scenious”

Scene meets genius - Clusters of talent

American Revolution – Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin all together for 1 cause

Inklings, Fugitive Poets, 1960’s British Music scene, Bill Walsh 49ers Coaching staff of the 1980s

Paypal is the story of many – Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, Reed Hoffman

Alumni of Fairchild Semi led to Intel, Atari and Xerox Parc led to Apple.

Post WW2 Bell Labs pressure decreased compared to PayPal.

Bell Labs allowed free wheeling, could work on a project for 10 years.

PayPal “mafia” Alumni – Yammer, YouTube, Slide, Yelp, Palantir, Tesla, Space X, LinkedIn, investers in FB

Ghostbusters – safe jobs at universities vs real world, they want ‘results’ star of 2000, went BK end of 2000 with Superbowl Ad

David Sachs – Palo Alto was “Killing Fields” of tech co’s when, Dot coms go bust

NASDAQ lost 80% of value in 2000 crash, Crypto Winter of 2022 is analogy

Dotcom bust forced PayPal to create a real business and profitable transfer user to paying clients

This in a time of infant internet, AOL mailed internet CD to potential customers

PayPal doing credit card payments online 20 years ago with dial up internet

MB recap of PayPal, 100 to 1 odds. Four year crazy time for PayPal and internet companies.

Paypal survives, goes public IPO (2001) and is acquired by EBAY for $1.5 billion 2002.

Still top payment system 20 years later, even owns Venmo, another big payment platform

Spun off from EBAY (2015) as of 2022 - EBAY market cap $26 billion, PayPal market cap $112 billion

Paypal grew email payments and reconcile payments, EBAY did not want to handle payments, clunky.

Meg Whitman, (of HP) was running EBAY in 2002. Paypal lived in fear of her.

No playbook to build Paypal or EBAY

Raising funding, running business, recruiting talent is all hard, start business from scratch.

Online payments was revolutionary

Reid Hoffman – Dad and firefighter of PayPal had to broker EBAY / PayPal deal

Max Levchin – engineer of PayPal – heart of company. Classic immigrant story – ambition and interest.

Have to determine appropriate balance of user growth and fraud to keep business going

David Sachs – cop, person who brings discipline to product design, Dr. No, must add value.

Peter Thiel is a biz guy, raised money and ran PayPal

Really smart people in the room, how to settle conflict when they disagree, often happened at PayPal

Sales vs legal battle is a classic fued in business

Internet was ‘wild west’ in 2002, five years old with Section 230

David Sachs was the user ally, user experience ‘conscious’ of PayPal

Sachs appreciated the user experience and design just like Steve Jobs of Apple

Elon Musk ran for – was merged with Confinity (Thiel / Levchin) to be called PayPal (2000), both

were trying to create online payments. PayPal was a product of Confinity.

Reid Hoffman “Dad/Fireman’ of PayPal, had to be the adult and fix problems

Book process for Jimmy - 270 interviews over 6 ½ years to create and write book on PayPal.

Lesson – Email a ton of people, many will respond

So many people made significant contributions to PayPal. Huge cast of characters at the water cooler. Book is about business, tech, personalities.

Sign up for EBAY, set up bank account, get 2 small deposits of 2 cents and code.

Called Random Deposit system, micro deposits, created by Sanjay Bhargava

Julie Anderson – alum, came with Musk. Created Omaha customer service hub for PayPal, she

was from Omaha, NE. PayPal still a large employer in NE

Jack Selby – raised financing worldwide from Europe, Japan etc.

Jack Malloy – early investor and VC in PayPal.

Thiel raised $100 million right before DOTCOM bubble burst.

PayPal paying money people to use PayPal and get users, cash burn rate

Amy Kleiment – unsung hero of PayPal, she understands the Full Picture - resolves conflicts – saw how design went with Ops – Amy was Part Ops – historian – therapist

Analogy of Shane Battier – Michael Lewis article (No Stats All Star) on former Duke player, whatever NBA Team he goes to, they win, Battier is the glue of the team.

Big strategic decisions matter and that’s what is written about. The Interesting problem solving and

execution to start and grow a company is often not done by CEO (who gets credit), but by unsung hero no one knows about. Lots of people are involved to build a business.

Jimmy does not have tech background. Wrote a history of PayPal and the stories

Greg Kouri created Zip2 with Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal Musk, their first company sold for $307

million in 1999 to Compaq database/software company. Musk reinvested the $ in

Epilogue – PayPal Mafia affected and inspired tech startups worldwide

Chris Wilson taught PayPal story in prison with Stephen Edwards in prison for murder in Baltimore, MD

(think The Wire). They taught inspirational story of the entrepreneur. No ceiling on success, past does matter if you add value to others.






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Business Roundtable with Matt Battaglia

The show where EntrepreneursHigh Level Executives, Business Owners, and Investors come to share insight and ideas about the future of businessBRT 2.0 looks at the new trends in business, and how classic industries are evolving

Common Topics Discussed: Business, Entrepreneurship, Investing, Stocks, Cannabis, Tech, Blockchain / Crypto, Real Estate, Legal, Sales, Charity, and more… 

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the Hosts, Guests and Speakers, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent (or affiliates, members, managers, employees or partners), or any Station, Podcast Platform, Website or Social Media that this show may air on. All information provided is for educational and entertainment purposes. Nothing said on this program should be considered advice or recommendations in: business, legal, real estate, crypto, tax accounting, investment, etc. Always seek the advice of a professional in all business ventures, including but not limited to: investments, tax, loans, legal, accounting, real estate, crypto, contracts, sales, marketing, other business arrangements, etc.