I’ve just finished reading PayPal Wars: Battles With eBay, the Media, the Mafia, And the Rest of Planet Earth. Written by former PayPal director of marketing, Eric Jackson and published in 2004, this book gives a detailed account of the company’s development and growth from its earliest days to the time just after its sell out to eBay in July of 2002.
It tells of the revolutionary vision of PayPal founder, Peter Thiel, highlights pivotal decisions, and describes the major, obstacles, and challenges that PayPal encountered on its way to becoming a dominant force in online payments. Besides challenges from a bevy of competitors, the company had to contend with “clashes with credit card associations, the banking lobby, state regulators, foreign Mafioso, and litigation-happy lawyers.”
Jackson’s book is both an engaging tale and a valuable resource for entrepreneurs of all stripes. There are many lessons to be learned from the Pay Pal experience about what it takes to bring a significant innovation to market and to scale. I strongly encourage social entrepreneurs especially to read at least the first chapter (“The New Recruit”) and last chapter (“Sell Out”), as well as the Epilog.
The picture which Jackson paints in his telling of the PayPal story suggests to me the urgent need for social entrepreneurs and champions of the common good to find new ways of creating business enterprises that do not depend upon conventional business models or Venture Capital financing.
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