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Scalability Rules: Principles for Scaling Web Sites, Second Edition by Michael T. Fisher, Martin L. Abbott

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5. Get Out of Your Own Way

You might not have heard of Confinity, but you probably know their hallmark product, PayPal. Today the name is synonymous with sending money all over the world via the Internet, but the application was originally designed to allow individuals to “beam” sums of money between handheld devices such as Palm Pilots face-to-face.1 Confinity was founded by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, and Luke Nosek in December 1998. At the company’s launch party, venture capital firm Nokia Ventures used the software to beam $3 million to Confinity CEO Thiel’s Palm Pilot in about 5 seconds. Thiel is quoted as saying, “Most transactions take place between people in the real world, away from the desktop.”2 While this was true in the late 1990s, ...

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