Max Levchin

Max Levchin
Максиміліан Левчин
Maksymilian Levchyn

Born Maksymilian Rafailovych Levchyn
(1975-07-11) July 11, 1975[1]
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, USSR
Alma mater University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Occupation CEO of Affirm
Former corporate director at Yahoo![2]
Co-founder and former CTO of Paypal
Chairman of the Board of Directors at Yelp, Inc.
Net worth US$300 million (2014)[3]
Spouse(s) Nellie Minkova (m. 2008)
Children 2

Maksymilian Rafailovych "Max" Levchyn (Ukrainian: Максиміліан Рафаїлович Левчин; born July 11, 1975) is an American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur. He is the Chief Executive of digital lending start-up Affirm. He is also the former chief technology officer of PayPal, which he co-founded in 1998. As CTO he was primarily known for his contributions to PayPal's anti-fraud efforts[4] and is also the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test, one of the first commercial implementations of a CAPTCHA challenge response human test.

In 2002, he was named to the Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35, as well as Innovator of the Year.[5] Levchin founded Slide in 2004 and was involved until 2011. In 2004, he helped start Yelp, an online social networking and review service, and is their largest shareholder as of 2012.[6] He is involved with other companies as well, for example having previously served on the board of directors for Yahoo!, and as of January 2016 is on the board of Evernote.

Early life and education

Born in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR to a Ukrainian Jewish family, Levchin moved to the United States under political asylum,[7][8][9] and settled in Chicago in 1991.[9] In an interview with Emily Chang of Bloomberg, Levchin discussed his overcoming adversity as a child. He had respiratory problems and doctors doubted his chance of living. With guidance from his grandmother and his parents he took up the clarinet to expand his lung capacity.[10] He attended Mather High School and earned a bachelor's degree in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1997.

Business career


See also: PayPal Mafia

In the summer of 1995, Levchin and fellow University of Illinois students Luke Nosek and Scott Banister founded SponsorNet New Media.[11] In 1998, Levchin and Peter Thiel founded Fieldlink, a security company that allowed users to store encrypted data on their PalmPilots and other PDA devices in order for handheld devices to serve as "digital wallets."[12] After changing the company name to Confinity, they developed a popular payment product known as PayPal and focused on digital transfers of funds by PDA.[11] The company merged with in 2000, and in 2001, the company adopted the name PayPal after its main product.[12] PayPal, Inc. went public in February 2002, and was subsequently acquired by eBay. Levchin worked there with Peter Thiel, Roelof Botha, David Sacks, and many other members of the PayPal Mafia. Levchin's 2.3% stake in PayPal was worth approximately $34 million at the time of the acquisition.[13] In 2002, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35, as well as Innovator of the Year.[5] He is primarily known for his contributions to PayPal's anti-fraud efforts[4] and is also the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test, one of the first commercial implementations of a CAPTCHA.

Slide, Yelp websites (2004)

Main articles: Slide (website) and Yelp, Inc.
Max Levchin seen playing Guitar Hero at a conference.

In 2004, Levchin founded Slide,[14] a personal media-sharing service for social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Slide was sold to Google in August 2010 for $182 Million[15] and, on August 25, Levchin joined the company as vice president of engineering.[16] On 26 August 2011, Google announced it was shutting down Slide, and that Levchin was leaving the company.[17]

In 2004, Levchin helped start Yelp, an online social networking and review service. He is the company's largest shareholder, owning more than 7 million shares as of 2012.[6] Levchin served as chairman of its board of directors from its founding[18] until July 2015.[19]

Board at Evernote (2006-2016)

See also: Evernote

On August 7, 2006, Levchin was appointed to the board of directors of Evernote, where he is also an investor where he served until 2016.[20]


In late 2011, Levchin started a company called HVF (standing for "Hard, Valuable, and Fun") that was intended to explore and fund projects and companies in the area of leveraging data, such as data from analog sensors.[21][22] In early 2012, Affirm was spun out of HVF, with the goal of building the next generation credit network. In 2013, HVF launched Glow, a fertility app that helps couples conceive naturally.[23][24]


Main article: Affirm (company)

As of January 2016, Levchin serves as the CEO and co-founder of Affirm, a financial technologies company. Created in 2012 by Levchin, Palantir Technologies co-founder Nathan Gettings, and Jeff Kaditz of First Data, Affirm is based in San Francisco.[25]

Board at Yahoo! (2012-2015)

In December 2012, Max joined Yahoo's Board of Directors,[26] where he served until December 2015.[27]

U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2015-Present)

In 2015, Levchin was appointed to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Consumer Advisory Board for a three-year term making him the first executive from Silicon Valley to be appointed to the board. [28]

Film and writing

Levchin was an executive producer for the movie Thank You for Smoking. Levchin is collaborating with Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel on The Blueprint, a book calling for a revival of world innovation. Thiel and Levchin expounded on their thesis in an interview during TechCrunch Disrupt.[29] The book, originally scheduled for a January 2012 release, has been postponed.

In the media

Levchin has appeared as a speaker at the Startup School organized by Y Combinator, where he describes his own journey as an entrepreneur and the mistakes he made and lessons he learned.[30] Levchin was also featured in "Brilliant Issue" of Portfolio by Condé Nast Publications.[31] Levchin did a full-length interview with Charlie Rose in 2013.[32]


Levchin was listed as one of the contributors to, a Silicon Valley-based lobbying group spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Green. The group is intended to concentrate on immigration liberalization for high-skilled immigrants to the United States, improvements to education, and facilitating technological breakthroughs with broad public benefits.[33] Levchin also narrated his personal experience as an immigrant in a video released by the group.[34]

Personal life

In 2008, Levchin married his longtime girlfriend, Nellie Minkova.[9][35] He has two children.

Further reading

See also


  1. Max R. Levchin in San Francisco, CA | Paypal - Entrepreneur | Profile at PeekYou. Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  2. Yahoo - Board of Directors. Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  3. "The PayPal Mafia: Who are they and where are Silicon Valley's richest group of men now?". 20 September 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  4. 1 2 Max Levchin: Online Fraud-Buster, Business Week Online, October 1, 2002
  5. 1 2 "2002 Young Innovators Under 35: Max Levchin, 26". Technology Review. 2002. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  6. 1 2 Who Got Rich This Week: Chief Yelper Levchin, An Ohio Barrel Heiress And More. Forbes (2012-03-30). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  7. "BBC News - Start-Up Stories: Max Levchin". BBC News. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  8. Hareetz: "One day in Silicon Valley" by Guy Rolnick August 3, 2010 |"Levchin, 32, Jewish of course and born in Kiev, refused to discuss money."
  9. 1 2 3 New York Times: "After Succeeding, Young Tycoons Try, Try Again" By GARY RIVLIN October 28, 2007
  10. "Max Levchin, how is he so successful". Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  11. 1 2 Hal Plotkin (September 8, 1999). "Beam Me Up Some Cash". Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  12. 1 2 "History". PayPal. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  13. "SEC Info - Ebay Inc - 'S-4' on 8/6/02". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  14. Slide - slideshows, slide shows, photo sharing, image hosting, widgets, MySpace codes, web publishing, music - Slide
  15. Google Buys Slide for $182 Million, Getting More Serious about Social Games*. TechCrunch (2010-08-04). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  16. PayPal and Slide Co-founder Becomes a Google VP of Engineering. (2010-08-26). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  17. "Google to Shut Slide Apps as Slide Founder Departs". The New York Times. August 26, 2011.
  18. Corporate Governance - Biography | Investor Relations | Yelp. Retrieved on 2014-01-14.
  19. Somerville, Heather. "Max Levchin steps down from Yelp's board, a sign Affirm is taking off". Silicon Beat. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  20. "Esther Dyson, Max Levchin Join EverNote Board of Directors". Business Wire. August 7, 2006.
  21. "HVF". Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  22. Wauters, Robin (2013-01-21). "Geeking out on data: Max Levchin talks about his HVF project at DLD13". The Next Web. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  23. "Glow - About". Glow. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  24. Feltman, Rachel (2013-08-02). "The co-founder of PayPal wants to put a baby in you". Quartz. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  25. "Max Levchin: Young people 'dislike big banks'". 2014-12-12. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  26. "Yahoo! Appoints Entrepreneur Max Levchin to Board of Directors". Business Wire. December 13, 2012.
  27. "Max Levchin Resigns From Yahoo's Board Of Directors". 2015-12-09. Retrieved 2016-25-16. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  29. Rip Empson (2011-09-12). "Max Levchin and Peter Thiel: Innovation In The World Today Is Between Dire Straits And Dead". TechCrunch.
  30. "Start-up advice for entrepreneurs, from Y Combinator Startup School".
  31. "Max Levchin Becomes the Internet's New Wacky Pix Guy!". 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2016-25-16. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  32. "Watch Charlie Rose Online - Max Levchin - Hulu". Hulu. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  33. " "Our Supporters". Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  34. "Stories". Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  35. Upstart Business Journal: "Mid-day Bytes: AOL, Max Levchin's Wedding, PacketVideo Triumphs" by Andrea Chalupa September 29, 2008
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