Maksymilian Rafailovych "Max" Levchin is a Ukrainian-born American software engineer. In 1998, soon after graduating from college, he co-founded the company that eventually became PayPal. Levchin contributed to PayPal's anti-fraud efforts and was the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test, one of the first commercial implementations of a CAPTCHA challenge response human test.
He founded or co-founded the companies Slide.com, HVF, and Affirm. He was an early investor in Yelp and was their largest shareholder in 2012. He left a leadership role at Yelp in 2015. Levchin was also a producer for the movie Thank You for Smoking.
In 1998, Levchin and Peter Thiel founded Field link. The security company allowed users to store encrypted data on their PalmPilots and other PDA devices for handheld devices to serve as "digital wallets." After changing the company name to Confinity, they developed a popular payment product known as PayPal and focused on digital funds transfers by PDA.
The company merged with X.com in 2000, and in 2001, the company adopted the name PayPal after its main product. PayPal, Inc. went public in February 2002 and, in July 2002, was acquired by eBay. Levchin's 2.3% stake in PayPal was worth approximately $34 million at the time of the acquisition. Levchin is primarily known for his contributions to PayPal's anti-fraud efforts and is also the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test, one of the first commercial implementations of a CAPTCHA.
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. Levchin is one of a group of roughly twenty founders and former employees of PayPal who have become referred to as the "PayPal Mafia" due to their success in founding and investing in tech companies after leaving PayPal.
In 2004, Levchin founded Slide, 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, and on August 25, Levchin joined the company as vice president of engineering. However, on August 26, 2011, Google announced it was shutting down Slide, and that Levchin was leaving the company.
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. In early 2012, the financial technology company Affirm was spun out of HVF to build the next-generation credit network. Affirm was created by Levchin, Palantir Technologies co-founder Nathan Gettings, and Jeff Kaditz of First Data. The company is based in San Francisco.
In 2013, HVF launched Glow, a fertility app that helps couples conceive naturally. After Affirm's initial public offering, Levchin's stake was estimated at $2.5 billion. In 2015, Levchin was appointed to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) advisory board for a three-year term, making him the first Silicon Valley executive.
In 2021, Levchin called for the tech industry to engage more with regulators after his experience on the advisory board at the CFPB. As of 2021, Levchin had an estimated net worth of over USD 3 billion.