The turbulent beginnings of a global payments system may soon be fodder for TV’s voracious content factory, if author Jimmy Soni and showrunner Mark Goffman’s plans to give PayPal the Hollywood treatment come to fruition.
As PayPal veterans celebrated the 20th anniversary of the company’s audacious 2002 IPO at Peter Thiel’s mansion in Los Angeles over the weekend, a crew filmed interviews with some attendees, according to multiple people present for the event.
Attendees for the weekend bash included co-founders Elon Musk and Max Levchin, sources said, as well as early PayPal employees like Deb Liu, now the CEO of Ancestry. Party entertainment included a band, a magician and photo booths, alongside a spread of lobster.
On the day of PayPal’s IPO, Thiel celebrated by playing multiple simultaneous games of chess against his employees. The anniversary party also featured chess sets, but attendees seemed to prefer networking.
The project is based on Soni’s book “The Founders,” a history of PayPal’s early days that digs deep into the company’s origins and highlights untold stories of how the company was built. Former PayPal COO David Sacks revealed in a podcast recorded in March that his production company and another one owned by PayPal veteran Jack Selby had acquired the rights to the book. He also disclosed Goffman's involvement, saying that he hoped "this turns into a TV show à la 'The Last Dance.'"
The project now appears to be further along. The on-camera interviews recorded at the party — a prime opportunity for filming, given the presence of so many key players — were meant to be part of a pitch for the series. Goffman is an accomplished writer and producer whose credits include the CBS series “Bull.”
Daniel Brunt, chief of staff to David Sacks of Craft Ventures, is also involved, according to a message Goffman sent. His role is not clear, but he is credited as a co-producer along with Sacks on the 2005 comedy “Thank You For Smoking,” Sacks’ first venture into Hollywood. Brunt is also listed as a co-president of Sacks' Room 9 Entertainment.
Sacks, Soni and Goffman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Streaming series and cable networks have shown an appetite for stories about Silicon Valley recently, from Apple TV+’s “WeCrashed,” about the fall of WeWork, to Showtime’s “Super Pumped,” adapted from Mike Isaac’s book about Uber.
Update: This story was updated on Aug. 29 with additional details about the project's producers.