Who Owns PayPal: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns PayPal: The Largest Shareholders Overview

PayPal Holdings, Inc. (PYPL) is a company behind an online payment system that allows individuals and businesses to send and accepts payments worldwide. It makes money predominantly from fees it charges businesses to accept payments through PayPal and currency conversions. Let’s now look at who owns PayPal and controls it.

The largest shareholders that own PayPal Holdings, Inc. are asset managers Vanguard (8% ownership) and BlackRock (7%). Company ownership is quite dispersed. None of PayPal’s founders and once sizable shareholders, Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, own significant stakes anymore.

 PayPal's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2021)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Vanguard 8.1% 8.1%
BlackRock 6.5% 6.5%
Other 85.4% 85.4%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

PayPal largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart) PayPal largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart)

As you can see from the table and visuals above, the top shareholders of PayPal are asset managers investing money that belong to other people. Ownership is quite dispersed, and nobody outside of the large asset managers is dominating.

None of the company insiders on the board or in the management team have ownership that would be above 0.0% when rounded to one decimal. Their stakes are mostly the results of stock options awards.

You won’t find Elon Musk or Peter Thiel, once sizable shareholders, among large PayPal investors because they sold their stake a long time ago.

  • Small stakes do not need to be disclosed, so it is theoretically possible that they still might have a smaller stake, but it seems improbable.

In this article, I will dive more into who PayPal’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth. I will also explore some other topics related to its ownership structure.

If you are interested, you can also explore who owns other companies like Tesla, Apple, Alphabet(Google), or Meta.

🕹️ Who Owns PayPal (PYPL) and Who Has Control?

PayPal largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Unlike other technology companies like Google or Facebook, Paypal has only one class of shares. There are no super-voting shares; therefore, one share represents one vote for all shareholders.

Ownership of Microsoft is quite dispersed, and the main shareholders are asset managers investing money in the name of other investors. No shareholder or group of shareholders controls Paypal.

PayPal’s dispersed ownership brings its own drawbacks thanks to possible conflicts of interest between PayPal’s management and its investors that are themselves represented by another management layer in the form of asset management companies.

In situations like this, when no significant shareholder exists, influence over the company is significantly in the hands of insiders. These insiders involve PayPal management and the board of directors, and also insiders within large asset managers that own PayPal.

The current CEO of PayPal, who by definition has an outsized influence on the company, is Dan Schulman

There are not any extraordinary protection measures within PayPal bylaws and certificate of incorporation.** The board can be replaced annually, and decisions are made with a majority of votes. The exception is when there is a decision about business combinations when a two-thirds majority is required.

🗳️ Breakdown of PayPal’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

PayPal Holdings, Inc. had a total of 1,168 million outstanding shares as of December 2021. The following table shows how many shares each PayPal’s large shareholder holds.

 PayPal's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard 94 94 8.1%
BlackRock 76 76 6.5%
Other 998 998 85.4%
Total (# millions) 1,168 1,168 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

There were 1,168 million votes distributed among shareholders of PayPal Holdings, Inc.. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 PayPal's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard 94 94 8.1%
BlackRock 76 76 6.5%
Other 998 998 85.4%
Total (# millions) 1,168 1,168 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

You can see that there is no difference between shares and votes, since PayPal has only a single class of shares.

💵 Breakdown of PayPal’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in PayPal Holdings, Inc. worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in PayPal could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 PayPal's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard $18 $18 8.1%
BlackRock $14 $14 6.5%
Other $188 $188 85.4%
Total ($ billions) $220 $220 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

Let’s now look at each PayPal shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are the Largest Shareholders of PayPal Holdings, Inc.

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of PayPal Holdings, Inc. one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in PayPal worth.

#1 Vanguard

Vanguard holds 8% of PayPal’s shares, making it its largest shareholder.

PayPal largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Vanguard owns 94 million PayPal shares, representing 94 million shareholder votes. The market value of Vanguard’s stake in PayPal was $18 billion as of December 2021.

Vanguard (The Vanguard Group) is one of the largest asset managers in the world. It manages other people’s money through its mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and also offers other related investing and financial planning services.

Vanguard differs from other large asset managers by having no actual “owner .” Officially Vanguard says that its investors own it since its funds own it, and Vanguard fund investors own those funds.

However, the actual decision power is in the hands of Vanguard’s insiders since the ownership is diluted over millions of investors worldwide.

Vanguard has significant influence over the largest public companies. Thanks to its size, Vanguard usually belongs to the largest shareholders in those companies and has considerable power at their shareholder meetings. This is especially true if ownership is diluted.

Vanguard representatives make the calls about which shareholder proposal to support or not, even though Vanguard is not the ultimate owner of those stocks and they belong to their clients.

It means that just a few people in charge of the largest asset managers have significant sway over many publicly traded companies. They are usually the median investors that can push or kill many proposals. As passive investing became more popular and the asset management market more concentrated, this became quite a concerning issue.

  • Several terms were coined to describe this issue. Some call it asset manager capitalism, and popular is also the power of twelve. Financial Times even put together who exactly those twelve people might be.

  • Vanguard and other large fund managers are trying to address those concerns by having public policies describing how they are exercising their voting power. But as you can imagine, this is still a situation full of conflicts of interest.
  • Evidence shows that big asset managers usually vote together with management.

#2 BlackRock

BlackRock holds 7% of PayPal’s shares which makes it its second-largest shareholder.

PayPal largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

BlackRock owns 76 million PayPal shares, representing 76 million shareholder votes. The market value of BlackRock’s stake in PayPal was $14 billion as of December 2021.

BlackRock, Inc. is the world’s largest asset manager, with assets under management of $10 trillion. BlackRock is not only an asset manager, but it also provides other asset managers and corporations with its Aladdin portfolio management software.

BlackRock is a publicly traded company, and its largest shareholders are its competitors, including BlackRock itself. Not directly but through their passive and active funds. The largest shareholder is Vanguard.

A similar situation is also true in the opposite direction because BlackRock is a significant shareholder in many of its publicly traded competitors and other large institutions, making the whole thing even more eyebrow-raising.

This circular ownership between Vanguard, BlackRock, and other large asset managers, amplifies the issue often raised about the power of these large asset managers over public companies since they usually belong to the most significant shareholders.

  • BlackRock and other large asset managers do not invest their own money, but they have significant voting power that, in most cases, is not passed through to the underlying investors. Therefore, BlackRock itself and its representatives have significant sway over decisions in those companies.

  • In the case of Blackrock, this influence is personified in the form of its CEO Larry Fink, who is a powerful figure with close ties in the FED and US government.

  • Adding to these concerns is evidence that BlackRock and other asset managers usually vote in favor of management proposals.

  • Recently, large asset managers started to be more sympathetic to different climate and environmental-related proposals and even supported activists that went against the management’s wishes. BlackRock was particularly aggressive in this change. Another proof of the power these companies have.

❔ Is PayPal Still Owned by eBay?

PayPal is currently not owned by eBay. eBay acquired PayPal shortly after PayPal’s initial IPO in 2002. However, in 2015, PayPal was spun off and became a separate entity again.

This spinoff was the result of investor pressure on eBay’s management. Investors were led by Carl Icahn, an iconic activist shareholder.

Later in 2018, eBay even dropped Paypal as its primary payment processing partner, so the separation was complete.

❔ Who Were PayPal’s Largest Shareholders after Its IPO in 2002?

PayPal’s initial public offering happed in 2002. Just after the IPO, Elon Musk was the largest PayPal shareholder, with an 11.9% share. Peter Thiel’s stake at the time was 4.6%.

List of the largest post-IPO shareholders from PayPal’s prospectus:

  • Elon Musk (11.9%)
  • Sequoia Capital (8.9%)
  • Nokia Ventures, L.P. (8%)
  • Clearstone Venture Partners (5.7%)
  • Madison Dearborn Partners (4.6%)
  • Peter Thiel (4,6%)

❔ Who and When Founded Paypal?

PayPal started in 2000 as a merger of two startups. The first was Confinity, founded by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, and Luke Nosek in 1998. The second was X.com,, founded in 1999 by Elon Musk, Harris Fricker, Christopher Payne, and Ed Ho.

The merged company was first called X.com, and CEO was named Elon Musk. Musk and Thiel had diverging visions for the company. It reportedly culminated when Musk was on a trip with his wife, and Peter Thiel managed to persuade the board to oust Musk as CEO, and he became CEO.

Chronology of other important PayPal events:

  • 2001: The company was renamed from X.com to PayPal
  • 2002: PayPal went public and, soon after that, was acquired by eBay for $1.4bn
  • 2015: after investors led by Carl Icahn pushed for eBay separation, the company finally caved in and spun off PayPal as a separate company.
  • 2018: EBay drops PayPal as primary payment processing partner.

Who Owns Apple: The Largest Shareholders Overview
Visual overview of who owns Apple and who controls it. With a list of the largest shareholders and how much is each of their stake worth.

Who Owns Twitter: The Largest Shareholders Overview
Overview of who owns Twitter and who controls it. With a list of the largest shareholders and how much is each of their stake worth.

Who Owns Meta: The Largest Shareholders Overview
Overview of who owns Meta Platforms and who controls it. With a list of the largest shareholders and how much is each of their stake worth.

Who Owns Tesla: The Largest Shareholders Overview
Overview of who owns Tesla and who controls it. With a list of the largest shareholders and how much is each of their stake worth.

Who Owns Volkswagen: The Largest Shareholders Overview
Overview of who owns Volkswagen and who controls it. With a list of the largest shareholders and how much is each of their stake worth.

Other Resources

Disclaimer: Although I use third-party trademarks and logos in this article and its visuals, kamilfranek.com is an independent site, and there is no relationship, sponsorship, or endorsement between this site and the owners of those trademarks.

You can tap into my 15+ years of experience in business analytics by booking an online consultation with me. You can also hire me to help with your smaller business analytics projects. Find out more by clicking the button below. Or you can subscribe to my mailing list so you don't miss any of my new posts going forward.
Subscribe to my mailing list - do not miss any of my new posts

Updated: