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.