In Conversation with Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, and co-founder and CEO of Affirm

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To thrive in an era of disruption, industry leaders must share their insights and learn from one another. This is why our CEO, Mark Machin, is delighted to both participate in conversations with external industry executives and to welcome notable guest speakers to CPPIB to engage employees.

Mark recently sat down with Max Levchin, one of the co-founders of PayPal and the current CEO and co-founder of Affirm. Affirm is a financial technology start-up that lends money to everyday consumers to buy goods and services in a more flexible and transparent manner than any other existing credit option. Once Affirm’s proprietary credit model determines that a customer will be able to pay back the sum, they are offered a loan. The consumer selects their preferred repayment term and over the next several months, or even a year, the consumer makes monthly payments spreading the purchase over time with fixed interest or no interest.

Max emphasized that Affirm’s mission grew out of a desire by the co-founders, many of whom were also at PayPal, to “clean-up” and modernize the entire lending process which is built primarily “on 1960’s technology.” He also spoke to the traits that differentiate “winning start-ups from the ones that sometimes don’t win.” For Max, the “one trait” he found to be “fundamentally differentiating across” the DNA of any company was “grit.” A trait, which Max believes, makes one “an entrepreneur” even if they “[don’t] know it yet.”

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