Accidental disruption: Max Levchin discusses how close PayPal was to never existing at all

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PayPal’s status as one of the most successful pre dot-com crash companies is beyond dispute. But for the billions in value that it created and the impact that it’s had in revolutionizing digital payments, it’s remarkable to consider how close the company came to never existing.

It wasn’t just teetering on the brink of insolvency, something that every startup encounters at some point. Rather, PayPal was never intended to be a payments company, but started out as an encryption solution for early Palm Pilots. The little known stories of the multiple pivots that led the company to the payments promised land is nothing if not remarkable.

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