Documentaries are all the rage thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and they are no longer just for the intellectual or serious minded - these days, it's all about entertainment. Now PayPal is getting the docu treatment, according to Protocol
Owen Thomas and Biz Carson reported that former PayPal veterans had acquired the rights to a book about the company called "The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley" and are pitching it as a series.
I haven't read The Founders, but I waded through "The PayPal Wars" written by former PayPal veteran Eric Jackson.
Even more interesting than the internal power struggles of the early founders may be the company from the perspective of sellers.
PayPal was originally created to enable people to "beam" money to friends through Palm Pilots (thus the "Beam me up, Scotty" ad campaign featuring James Doohan, who played Scotty in Star Trek). But online sellers found the killer app was paying for eBay purchases - there was no longer a need to send checks and money orders in the mail, sellers could get their money instantly.
I'll be especially disappointed if any documentary about PayPal doesn't include the story of how it crashed eBay's first seller conference in Anaheim in 2002. It held a party at a nearby hotel where they gave away PayPal branded tshirts, and promised to give away $250 to one lucky winner who wore the shirts at the eBay Live conference the following day.
Needless to say, the ploy worked, much to chagrin of eBay, which was trying to push its own payment service on sellers, who preferred PayPal. The following month, eBay's CEO Meg Whitman capitulated and agreed to acquire PayPal. It was a long journey together that benefited sellers until Carl Icahn swooped in and succeeded in forcing eBay to spin off PayPal in 2015.
There's no doubt PayPal had a significant impact on ecommerce in the earliest days when credit card companies wouldn't touch it, but much of the credit also goes to online sellers who took on much of the risk.
What stories would you share with filmmakers about PayPal and its early days?