The Team Behind Paypal’s Record-Breaking Year

Sarah HallamMeet the Team
Paypal San Jose

The entrance to Paypal's corporate headquarters in San Jose, CA. Courtesy of Paypal.

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated our world toward a cashless society, Paypal saw one of its best years yet. The online financial payments company reported a record-breaking fourth quarter, bringing in a total payment volume of $277B and a grand total of $936B for the year — making 2020 the strongest year in the company’s history.

Founded in 1998 in Palo Alto by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Ken Howery as software for financial transactions, Paypal changed the game when it came to online shopping. It produced some of the biggest (and richest) stars in Silicon Valley, also known as the PayPal Mafia, and includes Tesla’s Elon Musk and Linkedin’s Reid Hoffman in its ranks. The company was acquired by eBay in 2002 shortly after it went public, which exponentially increased its growth before it split off and went public a second time in 2015.

Now, Paypal has collected a whole fintech artillery, owning consumer apps like Venmo, Xoom, and as of yesterday, Israeli cryptocurrency app Curv.

Despite being a nearly 23-year-old digital wallet company, Paypal launched more products and services last year than any other in its history. With a strong and meticulously-structured public org chart, it’s easy to see how the personnel at the online payments company keep the product evolving year after year.

Take a look at the team behind the constant innovation and acquisitions at Paypal.

Paypal OC

At the helm of the operation is chairman and CEO Dan Schulman, who joined the company back when Paypal split from eBay in 2015 to move Paypal into its next chapter. He’s held senior leadership roles at American Express, Priceline Group, Virgin Mobile, and AT&T. Under Schulman’s leadership, Paypal’s stock has risen nearly 200%, yet Schulman has found ways to give back to his employees. He’s made every Paypal worker a shareholder and just last month, after research came out that two-thirds of U.S. entry-level workers at the company were living paycheck to paycheck, set up a system that allows staff to access paychecks as soon as they earn the money, rather than semi-weekly.

“The single biggest competitive advantage that a company has is the skillset and the passion of their employees,” Schulman said last week at The Conference Board’s Building A More Civil & Just Society conference. “Standing up for inclusion and ensuring that no one is discriminated against isn’t a left or right issue.”

During Schulman’s tenure, the company has enforced a “zero-tolerance policy” of any kind of discrimination both internally and externally. In June, the company pledged $15 million toward supporting recruitment and aiding career opportunities for Black and minority employees and has taken definitive stances on human rights issues as well. In 2016, it pulled the plug on its Charlotte, North Carolina headquarters after the state passed a law restricting transgender rights and in 2019, blocked fundraising accounts on its platform linked to white supremacy groups.

Daniel Schulman

Schulman was on Fortune's Businessperson of the Year list for 2019. Courtesy of Paypal.

Schulman’s guiding principles in social justice and anti-discrimination are a large part of the company’s philosophy, but seven c-suite executives work together every day to oversee an even greater team of senior leaders. Its expansive org chart is like looking into the cogs of the finely-tuned machine.

Leading one of the biggest teams is EVP and Chief Product Officer Mark Britto. He currently oversees end-to-end product and engineering organizations at Paypal. Britto has risen through the ranks in the nearly three years he’s been with the company. Before his days overseeing ops for the fintech giant, Britto was the founder of independent carrier billing company Boku, and SVP of Worldwide Services and Sales at Amazon.

Britto’s team is vast, and its arms extend to everything related to product or payments at the company. John Kunze, SVP of Global Consumer Product and Technology, is responsible for the teams at Venmo and Xoom. Thomas Lai and Yemi Okupe are the bosses behind Braintree, the online payments company Paypal acquired back in 2013, and SVP and General Manager Douglas Bland runs the global credit payments team.

Mark Britto

Britto's the founder of Boku, which grew into the largest independent carrier billing company in the world. Courtesy of Paypal.

Other c-suite highlights include CFO of Global Customer Operations John Rainey, who previously worked as CFO for United Airlines and is a sitting board member of Nasdaq, and Chief Data Officer Jonathan Auerbach, who leads global development and strategy and previously served as CEO of SingTel.

Every EVP at Paypal seems to have an understated pile of responsibilities on their plate, but this is especially true for Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer Louise Pentland. Pentland’s team handles all people, legal, communications, IP, government relations, and social innovation-related functions at the company. Stars to highlight from her team are Jill Cress, VP of Consumer Marketing who comes from National Geographic, and Franz Paasche, SVP of Corporate Affairs and Communications, who was recognized three years in a row by the Holmes Report as a top 100 most influential corporate communication exec. Pentland herself was recognized as one of California’s top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology in 2017. She spent 16 years at Nokia, working her way up to EVP and Chief Legal Officer of the team.

Louise Pentland

Under Pentland's leadership, Paypal has expanded the legal team’s international pro-bono initiative, which serves the needs of global communities. Courtesy of Paypal.

Rounding out the technical and engineering team is Sri Shivananda, SVP and CTO. Shivananda looks over a Technology Platforms & Experiences team that includes engineers, chief information officers and data analysts alike. Also from the eBay years, Shivananda worked his way up from a software engineer to VP of Global Platforms and Infrastructure at eBay. His org chart bio reads that “he’s a geek at heart” for his passion for learning, and encouraging creative solutions to problems using tech.

Sri Shivananda

Before he worked as CTO, Shivananda was responsible for all core technologies as VP of Global Platform and Infrastructure. Courtesy of Paypal.

A standout from Shivananda's team is Tushar Shah, SVP of Enterprise Platforms. Whenever you are typing with a customer service bot at Paypal, you have him to thank for cutting out any aggravating robocalls. Shah helps lead the Global AI and Machine Learning platform, which not only includes bots and customer service but supports front and back-office teammates.

With a team that boasts skilled executives with years of corporate experience within several levels at the top of the command, it's clear to see how Paypal was set up for its greatest year yet, with only more to come.

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