- An ex-PayPal worker said one of his observations of Elon Musk is that he never does just one thing.
- Jason Portnoy spoke with “The Tim Ferriss Show” about working at PayPal, where Musk was CEO in 2000.
- He said Musk might benefit from being able to apply lessons from one company to another.
Elon Musk might be one of the world’s busiest businessmen, but there’s a benefit to having so much going on, a former PayPal employee turned author said.
Jason Portnoy, a former vice president of finance at PayPal, where Musk was CEO in 2000, told the “Tim Ferriss Show” podcast last week that one of his biggest observations from working with Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman — members of the so-called PayPal Mafia — is that “they were never only doing one thing at a time.”
Portnoy said he thought this was interesting because, logically, when people work on something, they focus just on that thing. Musk, Thiel, and Hoffman were involved in multiple companies and ventures during and after their time at PayPal.
“I feel like they got a lot of benefit out of doing that because they would be getting exposed to different ideas, or solving different problems, or meeting different people,” he said. “There was just all this stuff that they were interacting with. And then they would bring that back with them into the PayPal office.”
Portnoy, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who also served as the chief financial officer at Palantir, the data company founded by Thiel, appeared on the podcast to discuss his book, “Silicon Valley Porn Star,” in which he documents his career in Silicon Valley, where he was PayPal’s 34th employee, as well as his descent and recovery from a porn addiction.
Portnoy’s first contact with Musk came in 2000 when he joined Confinity, the payment startup founded by Thiel that PayPal arose from. At the time Musk was working on a startup, the payments platform X.com, across the street on University Avenue in Palo Alto, California.
X.com merged with Confinity to become PayPal, and Musk spent a short time as CEO before being ousted in 2000. He went on to found Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company, all of which he is still involved in.
This week he came a step closer to owning the social-media platform Twitter when the company’s board of directors provisionally signed off on his proposed $44 billion purchase; in a proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission they recommended shareholders back the deal. Twitter hasn’t set a date for the vote.
Portnoy said he was sure Musk was learning things from one company that he’s applying to another. “And so I think there’s potentially some benefit there,” he added.
With an estimated net worth of about $219 billion, according to Forbes, Musk is the world’s richest man. He has talked about working well over 100 hours a week but acknowledged this has at times come at a cost to his family life and his sleep.
Musk has recently faced criticism for suggesting that workers who are not “burning the 3 a.m. oil” are somehow trying to avoid work.
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