An ex-PayPal worker said one of his observations of Elon Musk is that he never just does one thing.
Jason Portnoy spoke to the Tim Ferriss Show about working at PayPal, where Musk was CEO in 2000.
Musk potentially benefits from being able to apply learning from one company to another, he said.
Elon Musk might be one of the world’s busiest businessmen but there’s a benefit to having so much on, according to a former Paypal employee turned author.
Jason Portnoy a former VP of finance at PayPal, where Musk was CEO in 2000, told the Tim Ferriss Show podcast that one of his biggest observations from working with Musk, Paypal founder Peter Thiel, and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman — all 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. All three have been involved in multiple companies and ventures at various times, during and since 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 is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who also served as chief financial officer at Palantir, the Thiel-founded data company.
He 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, which PayPal arose from. At the time Musk was working on his startup, the payments platform X.com across the street on University Avenue in Palo Alto, California.
X.com later 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 after the company’s board of directors provisionally signed off his proposed $44 billion purchase. They recommend, in an SEC proxy filing, that shareholders back the deal. Twitter is yet to set a date for the vote.
Portnoy said he was sure Musk was learning things from one company that he’s applying to the other. “And so I think there’s potentially some benefit there,” he added.
With an estimated net worth of around $219 billion, according to the Forbes World Billionaires List, Musk is the world’s richest man. In the past, he’s talked about working well over 100 hour work weeks. However, he’s admitted that his workaholism has at times come at a cost to his family life, and his sleep.
Musk has faced criticism for promoting the idea that workers who are not “burning the 3 a.m. oil” are somehow trying to avoid work.
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