Ex-PayPal execs buys rights to film about Peter Thiel, Elon Musk

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By Dan Sears

A former PayPal executive has bought the rights to a movie about Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman — who led Silicon Valley’s legendary “PayPal Mafia” in the days before they became billionaires.

Jack Selby — who sold his stake in PayPal when eBay bought it for $1.5 billion back in 2002 — along with his former colleague, ex-PayPal COO David Sacks, own the rights to “The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley,” according to Bloomberg.

The film is set to be an adaptation of a book by the same name, written by former Huffington Post managing editor Jimmy Soni.

“All different kinds of versions are on the table,” Selby told Bloomberg of telling the story of PayPal’s origins, saying he’s still considering whether to make “a feature film, a serialized version or a documentary.”

“I just want the story to be told properly,” added Selby, who worked as the payment-processing company’s senior vice president and has since founded venture capital firm AZ-VC.

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Former PayPal executive and the co-founder of film production company High Frequency Entertainment, Jack Selby, has purchased the rights to a film about Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman during PayPal’s early days. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

As told in “The Founders” book, Musk, Thiel and Hoffman collided at PayPal before going on to establish Tesla, join Facebook parent Meta’s board and found LinkedIn, respectively.

In a biography about Musk released last year, author Walter Isaacson referred to the trio as key members the so-called “PayPal Mafia,” which reportedly dissolved in 2000, when Musk was removed from his position as chief executive of PayPal in a “coup” orchestrated by Thiel, a prominent Silicon Valley investor, as well as co-founder Max Levchin, then-board member Hoffman, and Sacks, then PayPal’s COO and product leader.

Three years later, Musk founded Tesla, which enjoyed a stint as the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, lifting its 52-year-old CEO to the very top of the list of the world’s richest people.

At the time of writing, Musk remains the No. 1 richest person, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with a fortune of $199 billion.

More than two decades after Musk’s tie-up with PayPal — which began when Musk merged his electronic payments company, X.com, with PayPal-parent, Confinity — and Selby wants to put the story on the big screen.

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This isn’t the first time that Selby has produced a movie. Aside from working as the managing director at Thiel’s family office, Selby also co-founded the production firm High Frequency Entertainment in 2011.

Former PayPal CEO Thiel (left) and Musk were reportedly part of the “PayPal Mafia” before Musk was ousted in 2000 in a “coup” orchestrated by Thiel. Three years later, Musk would go on to start Tesla and top the billionaire ranks. AP

The independent film production company has since focused on making films with budgets less than $10 million, according to Bloomberg.

“Our two recent films, “His Three Daughters” and “Memory,” were both sold last year after showing them at the Toronto film festival. They’ve been quite successful, especially given how difficult the industry has been,” Selby said, per Bloomberg.

Selby, whose net worth has been reported at around $50 million, added that “making movies keeps you humble.”

High Frequency sold “His Three Daughters” — starring Natasha Lyonne and Elizabeth Olsen — to Netflix for roughly $7 million in October.

Hoffman, who was also part of the “PayPal Mafia,” was one of the first employees at the payments company before it was sold to eBay. He later co-founded LinkedIn, which was sold to Microsoft for $26.2 billion in cash in 2016. Getty Images for WIRED

“By film standards, that’s a Peter Thiel-Facebook type of investment, but it’s not 10,000-times your original money,” Selby told Bloomberg.

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It’s unclear if “The Founders” will also be produced with under $10 million, though Selby revealed that he and Sacks are currently “having numerous conversations…for prospective directors and other parts of the project.”

The duo has already tapped famed rapper Drake’s entertainment firm, DreamCrew, to work on the film, according to Bloomberg.

Representatives for High Frequency Entertainment did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

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