Finding a good business partner may be a little tricky, but according to Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, it is one of the most important decisions you can make. Max Levchin’s partnership with Peter Thiel proved to be one extremely successful partnership.
Max Levchin not only had a keen sense for business, but was also very technically oriented. Max Levchin earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where the first Internet graphical browser, Mosaic was developed. This browser led to the boom of the 1990s and made the Web accessible to the ordinary person for the first time. Firefox 3, developed from this basic browser, had more than 8 million unique downloads the day it was released, setting a Guinness World Record.
After being influenced and taught at the same institution where Mosaic was created, Max decided to head for the Silicon Valley. Not intentionally looking for a business partner, Max randomly walked into a classroom on the Stanford University campus, trying to get out of the heat and searching for an air-conditioned place to sit. He sat in on a lecture given by Peter Thiel. He was so impressed with Peter Theil that he planned to talk to him.
Peter Thiel’s expertise in business and entrepreneurship were remarkable. Max waited after class to see if he could chat with him. The next day they met for breakfast and he shared with him several ideas he had for business projects. This meeting was the beginning of an extremely profitable business partnership. They ended up creating a company called PayPal, an online payment processing company which allows people to send money to each other in a completely new and different way than they had ever been able to before. PayPal sold to eBay on July 8, 2002 for $1.5 billion dollars. Max’s share was worth $34 million and Peter Thiel’s share was worth $55 million.
One of the qualities of a good partnership is that the partner can tell you when your ideas are good and also when they are just way off base. Partnerships can be crucial to your business success. Some partnerships last a lifetime and end up being good for both parties, while others may last half a life time and end up with one or the other sending their partner down the river. Choose your business partner as wisely as you would choose a marriage partner.