Book Review: The PayPal Wars

The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth by Eric Jackson is an excellent account of the founding and rise of PayPal through to the eBay acquisition.

As an early employee, Jackson provides an inside perspective on the company’s ups and downs, strategic decisions, in-fighting, and more. The word “Wars” in the title is intentional — PayPal faced an astonishing set of challenges not only from eBay and other competitors but from the Russian mafia, a relentlessly skeptical business press, and the tumult of the dot-com bubble bursting. Jackson lays out the triumph story well, “showing not telling” the key lessons for other entrepreneurs.

It’s no secret that PayPal alumni are currently dominating Silicon Valley and for this reason it’s fun to read a close-up account of these personalities.

In addition to the start-up story and entrepreneurship lessons, Jackson’s libertarian views emerge by the end of the book as he discusses how various government entities tried to halt PayPal’s progress through useless regulatory actions. He also links the PayPal vision to a broader libertarian vision about a more open and global currency.

The book is only $3.99 on Kindle and $10 paperback. I highly recommend it.

4 Responses to Book Review: The PayPal Wars

  1. Xoch says:

    ben, this has nothing to do with your post (although I will check out the book) but I think you’ve mentioned that you have a kindle. What’s your experience? What do you think about the iPad launch so far, could it eat into kindle’s market?

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    I love the Kindle. So far, so good, especially for traveling. Haven't
    researched the iPad yet!

  3. Wow.

    I remember when Paypal first started up (I had an account with X.com at the time) back when I had that GeoCities site.

    I had no idea PayPal went thru so much. I don’t like to admit to any naivete, but the backstory is fascinating and scary.

    Looks like I’ll have to read this one! thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  4. fred hanson says:

    Thank you for the recommendation.
    Excellent read!

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