PayPal versus Atlassian: Could our Australian team become the most influential group of investors?

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Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. Source: supplied.

The PayPal mafia have been the most influential group of investors and founders over the past decade anywhere. And while Australia doesn’t have an alumni group that have quite reached those global heights yet, the Atlassian mafia is starting to come pretty close.

First, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

Paypal was one of the world’s first digital wallets, itself a combination of two competing business: Confinity, which was been founded by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin (Reid Hoffman was an early board member and later COO); and X.com, which was founded by someone called Elon Musk. After surviving a near death experience, the merged business would eventually list on the NASDAQ before being bought by eBay in 2002 for US$1.5 billion ($2.04 billion). eBay then spun out PayPal in 2015 and the business is now valued by investors at a massive $328 billion.

What was so remarkable about PayPal was how its employees have almost recreated the internet since then.

Elon Musk went on to create Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City and is currently the second richest person alive, worth US$160 billion. 

Peter Thiel (who replaced Musk as chief executive of PayPal) was the first major investor in Facebook before going on to create Palantir (now a listed business valued at US$41 billion) where he remains chair. Thiel was also an early investor in payment giant Stripe (privately valued at US$100 billion) and was an early-stage investor in Airbnb. Despite those businesses being collectively worth more than US$1.3 trillion (compared to Musk’s businesses which are worth around $800 billion), Thiel is surprisingly valued by Bloomberg at only US$6.1 billion.

Reid Hoffman went on to found LinkedIn (which eventually sold to Microsoft for US$26.2 billion) and has also been an influential partner at major VC firm, Greylock as well as an early investor in Facebook and Airbnb). 

Max Levchin founded social media business Slide before selling it to Google for US$182 million, before founding payments business Affirm, which listed earlier this year (current valuation: US$18 billion, where he remains CEO). 

Roelof Botha kept a lower profile than Musk and Hoffman, but has been an influential senior partner at the world’s leading VC firm, Sequoia Capital, sitting on the boards of Square, Evernote, MongoDB and Xoom.

Then there’s Jeremy Stoppleman

Read more here:
PayPal versus Atlassian: Could our Australian team become the most influential group of investors?

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