02-11-2020

Next book selection: Paypal Wars

Friends –\ \ Apologies for last week's last minute ditch – I was super sick for few days (how?! I never leave my house, which is also on an island). I did get a COVID-19 test which came back negative 🙈🥴🥳❓\ \ Anyway, tomorrow I'll be back and excited to chat about our current book Paypal Wars [$4 ebook], gossip about the Beam drama [CNBC article posted by Ben], or fret about the election [obviously no pointer needed as we can hardly escape the doomscroll]. See you in discord tomorrow around 5pm PT, you know the drill.

Pumped to announce that I will be doing a fireside chat with Eric M. Jackson, the author of Paypal Wars, on TUESDAY November 17 2020 @ 5pm PT. Invite should be on your calendar! Same as the fireside chat with Ahmed Siddiqui, I'll add a zoom link to the calendar invite in advance and record the conversation for Youtube if you can't make it. Please bring questions for the second half.

I've only just started Paypal Wars but I'm entranced with the book. It's so cool to hear about the enthusiasm during the dotcom boom for fintech specifically. I loved reading about the first fee-free index fund, and how Elon Musk's X.com had ATM withdrawals (were they thinking about the same ATM strategies I am at Chime?)

I get chills thinking about these pioneers who are made all the more real by continuing to be big forces in our lives today. It reminds me a little of a time I checked out a book from Wellesley's library for a linguistics class I'd cross-registered in and saw on the checkout card that my professor had borrowed that very same book from the library when she was a student 30 years prior 👻✨

I've never looked into Paypal's product's origin story before because I assumed it didn't have one - it's just so obvious to send money to other people on the internet.\ Welp, I was wrong 😖. Paypal started as a secure way to beam encrypted information between Palm Pilots 🤯Payments was a natural application of their technology, and they pivoted from there. From Jackson:

The online service, I later learned, came as an afterthought. Since users of the Palm software would need to upload their encrypted financial transactions to the PayPal Web site anyway, Peter, Max, and the development team agreed that it made sense to create an online account that could work with or without a Palm…. If the Palm Pilot wallet did turn out to be a killer application, online accounts would at least let consumers without Palms take advantage of the service while the penetration of PDAs continued to grow.

I started selling things on eBay in 2001 (I have hundreds of positive reviews 💁‍♀️and expected to use my eBay profile instead of a resume someday. I never did, but I do use my twitter profile as one now, so, not too far off! 🙃). I distinctly remember waiting by the mailbox to receive money orders, often for less than $10 🤦‍♀️. I lied about my age to get a Paypal account; having an incorrect birthday that I can't remember there still causes me trouble sometimes. (Probably couldn't pull this off in 2020, though I have less of a need to. Even with way better KYC tools, it's not clear to me than fintechs are better off now than Paypal was 20 years ago, since fraudsters have gotten more sophisticated and the regulatory bar has gone up too) Now I get to hear the other side of the story 😉\ \ Rough upcoming schedule:

  • November 2: Casual jam in Discord
  • November 9: Casual jam in Discord
  • November 17: Fireside Chat with Eric M. Jackson in Zoom
  • week of November 23: No meeting (Thanksgiving)
  • (always 5pm PT / 8pm ET)

An ask of you: Y'all nominated One From Many [Amazon link] for a potential future Fintech Book Club selection. I'd love to meet Dee Hock, the author and (more notably) the founder of VISA, to see if he'd do a fireside chat with us. Please hit reply if you know him and might be able to introduce me! 

💸\ Maia