Dan Schulman of PayPal on Guns, Cash and Getting Punched

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Nook Workplace

A New Jersey native whose mom took him to civil rights marches says firms and chief executives “have an ethical obligation to attempt to be a power for good.”

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Dan Schulman labored for AT&T, Priceline, Virgin Cell USA, Dash and American Categorical earlier than becoming a member of PayPal as its chief govt in 2014.Credit scoreMike Cohen for The New York Occasions

Dan Schulman, the chief govt of PayPal, is aware of how you can struggle.

He climbed to a senior govt function at AT&T earlier than he was 40, jumped ship to work at Priceline when the journey web site was nonetheless a start-up, then took Virgin Cell USA from an thought to a enterprise with 5 million subscribers.

After stops at Dash and American Categorical, Mr. Schulman joined PayPal in 2014, overseeing its break up from eBay the following yr. Since then, PayPal’s inventory has greater than doubled, quieting doubters who questioned if the net funds firm can be a sustainable enterprise over the long run.

He’s additionally an everyday practitioner of Krav Maga, the martial artwork system practiced by the Israeli army, and has the scars to show it.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for readability, was carried out at PayPal’s workplaces in New York.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in New Jersey, first Newark and then New Brunswick. We lived in a totally built-in neighborhood. My mother was an activist. She pushed me in a child carriage at a Martin Luther King Jr. rally. She marched within the civil rights marches, not simply within the North however within the South as effectively. It takes braveness to go and do this.

You began working for AT&T proper out of faculty and wound up staying there for 18 years. What did you study throughout that point?

Early on in my profession I had a household tragedy the place my sister died, and I used to be main a staff on the time. That was a devastating time for me and my household. I needed to take time without work. I got here again a number of months later and the staff had simply gelled collectively to say, “We’re going to cowl for Dan. We’re going to do all the pieces.” And once I was presenting to the AT&T board concerning the accomplishments of this staff, I couldn’t take any credit score as a result of I deserved no credit score.

This concept of the ability of giving credit score to others — versus your personal particular person accomplishment — has formed my whole profession. Most individuals don’t actually take into consideration that. They principally assume, “Take a look at me.” However actually if you happen to say, “Take a look at what others are carrying out,” it’s a lot extra highly effective by way of your potential to draw the perfect individuals, to get issues performed.

You left AT&T for Priceline when it was only a start-up. That was a giant danger. Why not simply keep at AT&T?

I used to be president of the buyer division at age 39 or so. However my view was not a lot that leaving was a danger. I truly thought it’s extra dangerous to face nonetheless. There’s a philosophy in martial arts which is, “By no means stand nonetheless.” Standing nonetheless is asking to be hit. You at all times must be keen to take some dangers going ahead. You may’t stand nonetheless.

I’ve this recommendation that I give to individuals I mentor. I at all times say, “Don’t overthink the next move, as a result of none of us know the place we’re going to be 10 years from now or 15 years from now.” One step results in one other.

What modifications have you ever made to PayPal’s organizational construction as C.E.O.?

I’ve taken my staff from 21 direct reviews to eight direct reviews. To me, an awesome staff is one which discusses all the points. When you will have 21 individuals, it’s not a dialogue; it’s a presentation. There’s no method that 21 voices might be heard round a desk. It’s a cacophony of voices. The smaller the staff is, the extra you’ll be able to focus on points in depth and element, and there turns into a belief among the many staff.

PayPal was one of many first monetary firms to take a stand on weapons. How did you arrive at that call?

If you happen to’re going to have a constant set of values that you simply arise for, they must be mirrored in your acceptable use coverage. Across the violence in Charlottesville, we recognized a lot of teams that espouse hate or violence, and we don’t enable them to make use of PayPal to fund-raise.

And we don’t enable PayPal for use for weapons and ammunition. That there are guidelines and rules by way of background checks is awfully necessary. But when any individual goes to do one thing on-line, we are able to’t absolutely vouch for these background checks. And so subsequently we simply outlaw it.

It’s not at all times snug for C.E.O.s to take a stand on these points. How do you determine the place to attract that line?

Corporations, and by extension their administration groups and their C.E.O.s, have an ethical obligation to attempt to be a power for good. I don’t assume there’s any method that we are able to shirk that duty, and I don’t assume there’s any strategy to absolutely stand away from the tradition wars round us. It’s important to take a stand. That stand shouldn’t be a political one. Nevertheless it needs to be one that’s primarily based in your values and your mission.


— Dan Schulman


You follow martial arts, proper?

I follow Krav Maga. I spent a while in Israel once I was younger, they usually have what’s referred to as Youth Army Coaching there, so I began then. That was once I was in my teenagers, and I’ve been doing Krav since then.

Have you ever ever gotten harm?

Oh my gosh. I imply, have a look at my knuckles. These are all from punches. I’m at all times black or blue or I’ve some scar on my face. I’ve dislocated my shoulder. I’ve had stitches. If you happen to look rigorously on my face, stitches right here, stitches right here. Smacked right into a mat right here, right here. That’s the way you discover ways to be cool, calm and picked up in very tense conditions.

However the overrunning philosophy of Krav is that one of the simplest ways to win a struggle is to not get right into a struggle. It’s totally Zen in that method. How do you de-escalate conditions? We spend numerous time fascinated with that. It is translated into the way in which that I take into consideration enterprise as effectively.

After we began partnering with Visa and Mastercard and JPMorgan Chase and Citi, no person ever thought that PayPal can be allies with these firms. That might at all times be an uneasy pal relationship. However my view is, “How do you give prospects the selection they need, and the way do you keep away from fights that you simply don’t essentially must be in?” And it was perhaps one of many key issues that catapulted PayPal’s success lately.

A reader on Twitter, Kyle Rosenbaum, requested about India’s effort to ban money. Do you assume we’ll see extra nations doing that sooner or later?

There are two mega-trends taking place proper now within the monetary providers business. One: You’re seeing the digitization of funds. Individuals are transferring away from checks. Individuals are slowly however absolutely transferring away from money.

That’s pushed by the opposite large pattern, which is the explosion of smartphones. In smartphones, you will have all the energy of a financial institution department within the palm of your hand. You are able to do primary transactions at a fraction of the fee and a fraction of the time that it took you earlier than. That may allow so many of those underserved populations to come back into the mainstream as effectively and do issues that maybe you and I take with no consideration, and it could possibly truly make an actual distinction of their lives.

The demonetization in India is among the most audacious and daring experiments that a authorities has performed. India is among the final locations you’ll assume that may attempt to eliminate money, however there’s an enormous concern that goes on. There’s an enormous quantity of graft and corruption. But when the federal government can instantly ship that cash to you electronically, proper right into a digital account or a checking account, that may very well be extremely impactful in that nation. Whether or not it absolutely works or not, it’s a harbinger of issues to come back.

What do you continue to use money for?

I don’t use numerous money proper now. Issues that I used to make use of money for, like paying babysitters, now everyone has Venmo and it’s less complicated and simpler. Some individuals really feel that money is a extra nameless type of cost, and I’d by no means predict the demise of money over the following decade or two. I believe money goes to be with us for a very long time to come back. However there’s a clear pattern towards digitization. It’s only a extra environment friendly, time-efficient, cost-efficient strategy to managing your cash.

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