Technology

Could a portal merger change the face of real estate? A lesson from PayPal

Why the Trulia-Zillow merger could be a turning point for the industry

In October 2002, eBay, the giant online auction site, purchased the fast-growing payments company, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Founded at the end of 1998, PayPal had become the de facto way to pay for goods on eBay, powering 70 percent of auction payments. The purchase was the exclamation mark on the rocket ship of PayPal's growth. It wasn't obvious at the time, but eBay's acquisition of PayPal would be an important turning point for the Internet itself, as key founders and team members of the payments platform left shortly after the purchase to start a new wave of online startups that marked the rise of Web 2.0. These PayPal alumni, coined "The PayPal Mafia" by Silicon Valley press, included luminaries Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, and Peter Thiel, founder of Palantir and first investor in Facebook. Others from PayPal, such as Reid Hoffman, Steve Chen and Jeremy Stoppelman, went on to start influential companies that defined the future of the Web: LinkedIn, YouTub...