PayPal considered right-wing?
January 12, 2008 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Do PayPal's profits still go to right-wingers?

So back a few years ago, I read multiple articles on the web, alleging that PayPal was owned and operated by some seriously right-wing people. Given that PayPal has been acquired by eBay since, is this still the case? In other words, when I use PayPal as a buyer or seller, am I contributing to the wallets of the US extreme right? Or have they all been paid off by eBay now, and any profits will just go to whoever owns eBay these days?

(Let's not have a discussion about politics though! Just leave me to my beliefs, and I'll leave you to yours.)
posted by Zarkonnen to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have links to these articles? Do you mean paid off as in hush money or paid off as in allowed to profit from their association with PayPal when it was bought by eBay?

Are you familiar with how a publicly traded company works? Anybody can buy shares. That anybody would include right, left, American, international, rich, poor, etc.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:48 AM on January 12, 2008

I can't find a reference quicly for his E-Bay holdings, but Peter Thiel apparently is a big investor in Facebook (sat on the Board), Slide, LinkedIn, and more. He also was a producer on "Thank You For Smoking".
posted by Jahaza at 8:54 AM on January 12, 2008

Response by poster: See the article by beaucoupkevin for the connection I mean.

I'm well aware that it's impossible to tell who the shareholders are in detail, but that's the case with anything, pretty much. I just worry that PayPal is still essentially an organisation run by extreme right-wingers.
posted by Zarkonnen at 8:58 AM on January 12, 2008

Money says most of the Paypal folks left the company when it was sold to E-bay, but that doesn't say anything about their continuing stake in E-Bay as shareholders.
posted by Jahaza at 9:02 AM on January 12, 2008

The other co-founder of PayPal, Max Levchin was also an executive producer on "Thank you For Smoking". They strike me as Libertarians rather than Right Wingers.
posted by mmascolino at 9:50 AM on January 12, 2008

WHat is an "extreme right winger" Zarkonnen? What is the litmus test for that?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2008

Mod note: a few comments removed - you know where metatalk is, I know you do.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:43 AM on January 12, 2008

Best answer: According to an exhibit filed with eBay's last 10-K, all PayPal entities (as far as I can tell) were wholly-owned subsidiaries, and eBay's most recent 10-Q doesn't say anything contrary (search for "paypal").

I doubt eBay would cause PayPal to issue options on PayPal's stock to extreme right-wingers, since that would dilute eBay's interest. All direct profits interests in PayPal are almost certainly owned by eBay.

However, I should caution you that it's impossible to determine with certainty whether an extreme right-winger holds a right resembling a synthetic profits interest in PayPal (e.g. compensation that is based on PayPal's performance). Also, it seems likely that at least some extreme right-wingers receive salaries or other forms of compensation from PayPal, although these aren't paid out of PayPal's profits.

It's safe to conclude, though, that in all probability, the profits of PayPal are owned primarily by eBay, which is a corporation, not an extreme right-winger.

The profits of eBay, which include the profits of PayPal, may be partially owned by extreme right winger, though. In its last proxy statement, eBay filed a list of its largest known beneficial owners. Unfortunately, the SEC does not require filing companies to indicate whether their largest known beneficial owners are extreme right-wingers, but you could use the list as a starting point of your own investigation. Since eBay is publicly traded, though, you will almost certainly be unable to acquire a complete list of people who hold a profit interest in it (and thus an indirect profit interest in PayPal).
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, the founders of PayPal were mostly conservatives -- but they've been out of management for more than five years. EBay management isn't very political -- less than $90,000 in 2008 cylce contributions by eBay employees -- but typical per Silicon Valley standard those donations are overwhelmingly to Democrats.

What isn't typical is that eBay CEO Meg Whitman is actively backing a Republican, but I'd venture to say that's more out of personal ties (Mitt Romney was one of her partners when both were at Bain) than out of ideological commitment.
posted by MattD at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2008

Here's another list over the largest stock holders in eBay.

Wikipedia: "As reported at, Whitman has made numerous political donations to various candidates and PACs. While these have gone to both Republican and Democratic beneficiaries, the donations seem to be weighted to Republican politicians such as Orrin Hatch, Charles Pickering, and George Allen.
Whitman is known as a supporter of former Massachusetts' Republican governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2008 and is now on his "National Finance Team". She is also listed as Finance co-chair of Romney's campaign exploratory committee.""Romney benefits from ties to eBay president."
posted by iviken at 1:19 PM on January 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all for answering the question. I know it was a bit ill-defined, but it was partly a trawl for information.

Having read your responses and followed up on the links, the answer seems to be a tentative "No".
posted by Zarkonnen at 2:48 AM on January 13, 2008

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