Hall of Fame
Technology Entrepreneur, angel investor, and cryptographer; Cofounder of PayPal, creator of online security and fraud-prevention systems; Founder and CEO of Slide; Founder and CEO of Hard Valuable Fun (HVF) incubator lab.
To understand the impact Max Levchin has had on world culture, simply consider the tools this on-line giant help already founded or has had a hand in developing -- PayPal, Yelp, Slide. A native of Ukraine, Levchin grew up in Chicago, where his family was granted political asylum, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the University of Illinois in 1997.
Levchin’s rise to prominence has been swift. In 1998, he co-founded Fieldlink. After changing the company name to Confinity, he and Peter Thiel developed the popular payment product, PayPal, which gives users a way to send money without exchanging financial information. Levchin served as PayPal’s Chief Technology Officer and Director and was responsible for developing PayPal’s anti-fraud measures.
After merging with X.com, PayPal, Inc. went public in 2002 and was subsequently acquired by eBay. Today, PayPal has over 148 million active accounts in 26 currencies across 203 markets.
In 2004, Levchin also helped start and continues to serve as chairman of Yelp, an online social networking and review service, inviting customers to post reviews for local businesses. Yelpers have written more than 57 million reviews, and in the first quarter of 2014 alone had 132 million unique visitors.
In 2004, Levchin also founded Slide, a media-sharing service for social networking sites. In 2010, the company was sold for $182 million to Google, who named Levchin its Vice President for Engineering.
Levchin also serves on the Board of Directors of Yahoo! and continues to push the envelope of data-focused innovation working out of his own research lab. Founded in 2011 and dubbed “HVF” for Hard Valuable Fun, the lab is meant to be an incubator for data-driven projects. According to its website, HVF is “interested in consumer finance, enterprise document security and disease prevention/wellness industries. But if it’s got data, we want to think about it.”
To date, two companies have been spun from HVF: the finance company Affirm, and Glow, an app that is giving women the information they need for fertility. Affirm gives online shoppers an alternative way of financing their purchases with creative payment plans. Glow gives women the pregnancy resources such as tips on what foods to eat and a way to closely monitor their menstrual cycle.
In addition to being an innovator, Levchin has dabbled in the media world, serving as executive producer for the movie Thank You For Smoking and teaming with Thiel and Garry Kasparov to write the book, The Blueprint: Reviving Innovation, Rediscovering Risk, and Rescuing Free Market.
- 1997 BS Computer Science ILLINOIS