The trick Max Levchin used to hire the best engineers at PayPal

May 31st, 2013 / No Comments »

By Bill Trenchard for First Round Review

Max Levchin has built, managed and invested in some of the strongest technical teams in Silicon Valley history. While his approach to hiring engineers can be unorthodox at times, his results are undeniable. In this First Round CEO Summit interview, Max shares insights on the unconventional hiring philosophies that PayPal and Slide implemented to attract and retain great people.

Doubt = No doubt

The first few hires at a company are the most important decisions a founder will ever make. These hires will shape company culture and vision for years to come and can’t easily be undone. At PayPal, Levchin was religious about not making the wrong hire and believed strongly in a unanimous hiring process. If one person on the team didn’t like a candidate, they wouldn’t make the hire. Levchin shared, “There are some legendary-ish tales of me not hiring people because they used the wrong word in an interview…I’m sure we had lots of false negatives, but we have very few false positives.”  It’s better to err on the side of losing a superstar here or there than make a hire that’ll disrupt or ruin a company. A quote from the movie Ronin puts it perfectly, “whenever this is any doubt, there is no doubt.”……