PayPal CEO’s fighting philosophy steers the company
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PayPal CEO’s fighting philosophy steers the company

Here’s something you might not know about online payment giant PayPal’s CEO, Dan Schulman: he could probably beat you up. Professionally, the Silicon Valley super-CEO is known for his deal-making savvy and innovative approach to business. But in his personal life, he’s spent decades studying the martial arts – and he still takes it really seriously… to the point of lacing up the gloves every week and training in Krav Maga, the notoriously lethal self defense system used by the Israeli military. Perhaps worryingly for PayPal’s competitors, Schulman says the philosophy behind it informs many of his business decisions.

A right hook to the competition – PayPal’s share price has outperformed the market so far this year

graph 0908 paypal

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

60-year old Schulman started training Krav as a teenager in Israel. Last month, he told New York Times reporter David Gelles that it has a strong influence on how he thinks about business:

“The overrunning philosophy of Krav is that the best way to win a fight is to not get into a fight. It's very Zen in that way. How do you de-escalate situations? We spend a lot of time thinking about that. It's translated into the way that I think about business as well. When we started partnering with Visa and Mastercard and JPMorgan Chase and Citi, nobody ever thought that PayPal would be allies with those companies. That would always be an uneasy friend relationship. But my view is, 'How do you give customers the choice they want, and how do you avoid fights that you don't necessarily need to be in?'"

Schulman’s fighting philosophy certainly seems to have worked in his tenure at PayPal – the company’s share price has risen almost 150% since he took the helm not-quite four years ago. That’s a reflection of Schulman’s abilities as a strategist – useful in Krav, and essential in business. He told Business Insider:

"We often say in fighting, like, conserve your resources, every punch has to have a home so don't just flail away, make sure you have a game plan. It's the same in business. But there's a lot of similarity between what we're taught in martial arts and krav maga and what we practice in business and what we practice in our lives as well."


Dominion holds PayPal in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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