06 March 2022
Welcome back to the Week That Was series highlighting things from the interwebs which are interesting, noteworthy and/or probably worth your time.
Articles📝, Tweet(s)📱, Videos🎥, Charts 📈 all fair game with or without attendant commentary.
Untitled, Zdzisław Beksiński, Oil on Canvas, 1976
🕵️💻 PayPal Mafia
The “PayPal Mafia” is a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and developed additional technology companies such as Tesla, Inc., LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, Affirm, Slide, Kiva, YouTube, Yelp, and Yammer. Most of the members attended Stanford University or University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign at some point in their studies.
Originally, PayPal was a money-transfer service offered by a company called Confinity which was acquired by X.com in 1999. Later X.com was renamed PayPal and purchased by eBay in 2002. The original PayPal employees had difficulty adjusting to eBay’s more traditional corporate culture and within four years all but 12 of the first 50 employees had left. They remained connected as social and business acquaintances, and a number of them worked together to form new companies in subsequent years. This group of PayPal alumni became so prolific that the term PayPal Mafia was coined.
Included in this (in)famous shot were:
- Peter Thiel, PayPal founder and former chief executive officer who is sometimes referred to as the “don” of the PayPal Mafia
- Max Levchin, founder and chief technology officer at PayPal
- Elon Musk, founder of X.com which acquired the company Confinity. Musk later became an early investor of Tesla Inc, he then founded SpaceX, Neuralink, OpenAI, The Boring Company, and was the Chairman of SolarCity before its acquisition by Tesla
- David O. Sacks, former PayPal COO who later founded Geni.com and Yammer
- Roelof Botha, former PayPal CFO who later became a partner of venture capital firm Sequoia Capital
- Steve Chen, former PayPal engineer who co-founded YouTube
- Reid Hoffman, former executive vice president who later founded LinkedIn and was an early investor in Facebook, Aviary, Friendster, Six Apart, Zynga, IronPort, Flickr, Digg, Grockit, Ping.fm, Nanosolar, Care.com, Knewton, Kongregate, Last.fm, Ning, and Technorati
- Ken Howery, former PayPal CFO who became a partner at Founders Fund
- Chad Hurley, former PayPal web designer who co-founded YouTube
- Eric M. Jackson, who wrote the book The PayPal Wars and became chief executive officer of WND Books and co-founded CapLinked
- Jawed Karim, former PayPal engineer who co-founded YouTube. The first YouTube video, Me at the zoo, was uploaded by Karim on April 23, 2005
- Jared Kopf, former PayPal (executive assistant to Peter Thiel) who co-founded Slide, HomeRun and NextRoll
- Dave McClure, former PayPal marketing director, a super angel investor for start up companies and founder of 500 Startups which has hit 500+ investments
- Andrew McCormack, co-founder of Valar Ventures
- Luke Nosek, PayPal co-founder and former vice president of marketing and strategy, became a partner at Founders Fund with Peter Thiel and Ken Howery
- Keith Rabois, former executive at PayPal who later worked at LinkedIn, Slide, Square, Khosla Ventures, and currently with Peter Thiel at Founders Fund, and personally invested in Tokbox, Xoom, Slide, LinkedIn, Geni, Room 9 Entertainment, YouTube, and Yelp
- Jack Selby, former vice president of corporate and international development at PayPal who co-founded Clarium Capital with Peter Thiel, later becoming managing director of Grandmaster Capital Management
- Premal Shah, former product manager at PayPal, became the founding president of Kiva.org Russel Simmons, former PayPal engineer who co-founded Yelp Inc
- Jeremy Stoppelman, former vice president of technology at PayPal who later co-founded Yelp, Inc
- Yishan Wong, former engineering manager at PayPal, later worked at Facebook and became the CEO of Reddit
Blog favourite Demitri Kofinas sat with Jimmy Soni to chat about his newest book on the PayPal Mafia and the founders who shaped Silicon Valley and transformed the Fintech and online payments industry.
The objective of this episode is to give you a historical context for many of the business practices that have since become standard operating procedures across both Silicon Valley and Wallstreet. Things like CAPTCHA, blitzscalling, and micro-deposits, just to name a few. All of these innovations came out of a company under siege for almost the entire course of its pre-IPO existence, and it was in many ways this daily battle for survival that was central to shaping not only PayPal’s culture, but its success: the type of success that every entrepreneur and every founder dreams of.
📹🎭 Movie Faces
For the cinephiles
👶🏽📉 Fertility Rate
A few years ago Max Roser updated his public study on total fertility rates around the world, published on 📚Our World In Data.
The global average fertility rate is just below 2.5 children per woman today. Over the last 50 years the global fertility rate has halved. And over the course of the modernization of societies the number of children per woman decreases very substantially. In the pre-modern era fertility rates of 4.5 to 7 children per woman were common. At that time the very high mortality at a young age kept population growth low. As health improves and the mortality in the population decreases we typically saw accelerated population growth. This rapid population growth then comes to an end as the fertility rate declines and approaches 2 children per woman
A few insights
We also see convergence in fertility rates: the countries that already had low fertility rates in the 1950s only slightly decreased fertility rates further, while many of the countries that had the highest fertility back then saw a rapid reduction of the number of children per woman.
The following map shows the estimates published by Gapminder from the year 1541 onwards for countries where data is available. Fertility rates were estimated to be very high across the entire planet until very recently.
Broadly, the reasons cited for the decline in fertility are as follows:
- Empowerment of women
- Women’s labor force participation
- Increasing well being and status of children
- Increasing prosperity and structural transformation of the economy
- Culture and norms
- Family planning & Contraception
🌆 City Logic
From Bloomberg’s 📰CityLab
Some cities’ roads follow regimented grids. Others twist and turn. See it all on one chart.
In Chicago or Beijing, any given street is likely to take you north, south, east, or west. But good luck following the compass in Rome or Boston, where streets grew up organically and seemingly twist and and turn at random.
Geoff Boeing calls this structure the “logic” of a city, and he would know: An urban planning scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Boeing developed a tool to let anyone visualize this urban logic in seconds.
In the last two and a half decades under Putin’s rule the Ruble has undergone 3 significant downside corrections - each punctuating some kind of scaled military action.
On the subject of the current conflict, this graphic showing the relative strength of NATO and Russia - for reference in respect to why it’s so important that the alliance and Russia do not end up in kinetic conflict with each other.
Of course NATO is currently only engaged in economic reprisals in the current Russo-Ukraine conflict - and in order to avoid WW3 or the use of nuclear warheads for the first time in war since 1945 - this will need to be the continued stance. So Russia continues to bring more of their forces to bear as they ratchet up their engagement. This is the reported multi-kilometre-long convoy outsite of the capital Kyiv.
🔑💻 Password Tables
Hive Systems have updated their famous password table for 2022
It happens all the time. You read an amazing book, one so packed with wisdom that you think it’s going to change your life forever. Then…it doesn’t. Why? Because when you’re finally in a situation where you could use its insights, you’ve completely forgotten them. Time is our most valuable resource, so we shouldn’t waste it. The investment we make in reading should have a positive, lasting impact on our lives.
Shane Parish from Farnam Street argues there are 6 truths about reading, particularly from the perspective of crystalising lessons learned from the tomes you consume.
Quality matters more than quantity. If you read one book a month but fully appreciate and absorb it, you’ll be better off than someone who skims half the library without paying attention.
Speed-reading is bullshit. Getting the rough gist and absorbing the lessons are two different things. Confuse them at your peril.
Book summary services miss the point. A lot of companies charge ridiculous prices for access to vague summaries bearing only the faintest resemblance to anything in the book. Summaries can be a useful jumping-off point to explore your curiosity, but you cannot learn from them the way you can from the original text.*
Fancy apps and tools are not needed. A notebook, index cards, and a pen will do just fine.
We shouldn’t read stuff we find boring. Life is far too short.
Finishing the book is optional. You should start a lot of books and only finish a few of them.
In his article 📝How to Remember What You Read he outlines his advice in keeping with these points - where he promotes the idea of active reading (choosing great books, getting context etc) and then tips on remembering (agreeing with 📝Sébastien Dubois about taking notes, making mental links, staing focused etc) and what to do when done with a book.
Worth a read - to help you with your next read.
Also… if you’re on Goodreads, add me as a friend so we can share recommendations.
🔢📹 Logically Policed
Nature, said Galileo, is a book written in the language of mathematics. Fast-forward 400 years and mathematics has become the essential tool for driving human progress and innovation.
From a stand up comedian to a professional juggler this film puts together science communicators who you would not expect to be your typical maths teacher and, along with University professors, they talk about our relationship with mathematics, unveiling the reasons for which we don’t like numbers but cannot do without them.
- Winner “Audience Favourite Documentary” at Cineglobe 2015
- Official Selection Screentest: National Student Film Festival 2015
- Official Selection Learning On Screen Awards Film Festival 2015
- Official Selection Science Film Festival 2015 (Hungary)
🖋️📜 Studying The Script
From 📝The Browser:
Extract from a book about the world’s “mysterious scripts”. Full of intriguing details. The Chinese script “is the only system in the world still used to represent the language for which it was invented” and even the earliest surviving examples show a fully formed system. The first inscriptions, carved into bone, are essentially records of séances; attempts to predict a very uncertain future
⛽🛢️ Oil Prices
Bobbele is a project which believes “ in the value of making information easily and freely available. Bobbele aims to support consumers in making informed decisions whether to support a company or not based on the company’s own actions and its related companies’ actions.”
You can use it to search over 120,000 companies (as of 06 March 2022) to see their heirarchies and any controversies related to them. All info sourced once a month from Wikipedia.
🎨 The Chase
The Chase, Greg Beecham, oil on linen, 2010
⚛⚡🖥️ Analogue Compute
Digital computers have served us well for decades, but the rise of artificial intelligence demands a totally new kind of computer: Analog.
💬 Deep Cuts
“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” -Anthony Bourdain
“A good upbringing means not that you won’t spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won’t notice it when someone else does” — Anton Chekhov
📈 One More Thing
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