hubspot-paypal-super-bowl-infographicWhat are the chances that some the most successful people in the world all come from the same place?

You can't help but ask that question when you look at the famous PayPal Mafia, a group of entrepreneurs and investors sprung from PayPal's $1.5 billion sale to eBay. From this small group, members have gone on to start or invest in famous tech companies like YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp, Tesla, and Square. 

And just think: They all came from the same place. An anomaly, right?

Well, not so fast.

The same thing happened in the NFL. Bill Walsh, revered head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, cultivated a plethora of talent much like PayPal. Working on Walsh's staff proved to be a launchpad for a handful of coaches, and these leaders went on to coach numerous NFL franchises and win multiple Super Bowls and awards in the process.

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, we decided to pit these two disparate groups against each other in the infographic below to decide which side is more successful. (And if you're interested in our methodology, keep on scrolling -- we outline it at the end of the post.)

The PayPal Mafia vs. Bill Walsh's NFL Coaching Tree

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Our Methodology

We used this graphic to determine which members of the PayPal Mafia would be included. To make the comparison equal to Walsh's organization, we included Walsh's assistants and a handful of their assistants who went on to become head coaches. Here's how we compared them:

1) IPOs vs. Super Bowls: Only founders and executives from the PayPal group could register a point for the IPO category. Angel investing and board seats didn't count, which excludes folks like Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman (Facebook), and Max Levchin (Yelp). The lone exception was Roelof Botha, a partner at Sequoia Capital and full-time investor with the IPO of

2) $1 billion net worth vs. Coach of the Year awards: The former is based on publicly available info, while the latter uses all the major Coach of the Year lists, not just the Associated Press award.

3) Companies founded post-PayPal vs. NFL teams led post-Walsh: We wanted total industry influence here, so a given company or team could only count once, even if multiple individuals were involved. (So YouTube, founded by three mafiosi, counted once. The Green Bay Packers, coached by multiple Walsh descendants at different times, also counted just once.)

4) Years as founder or C-level executive vs. Years as NFL head coach: Very cut and dry. "Key advisor" roles didn't count for PayPal mafia members.

5) Academic Pedigree: Number of PayPal Mafia who attended the most recent U.S. News & World Report's Top 10 Universities list versus number of coaches who played collegiate football for a top 10 ranked school. We looked at people, not total degrees. So Thiel's two Stanford degrees didn't matter, for instance -- one person, one point. 

What do you think? How would you compare the two sides, and who wins in your book?

Originally published Jan 30, 2014 12:26:00 PM, updated February 01 2017


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