Ken Howery: Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

Ken Howery

Ken Howery: Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

Ken Howery is a successful American businessman who is best known for his role as one of the five founders of the highly successful digital wallet, PayPal. However, he has also been involved with numerous other successful and profitable businesses, including holding the position of Director of Corporate Development at eBay after its acquisition of PayPal. He then joined other PayPal co-founders in various capital investment ventures.  Howery then turned his attentions to politics and served as the American Ambassador to Sweden until the end of the Trump presidency.

Read on to explore the full biography of Ken Howery, including a detailed list of his business ventures.

Quick Facts

November 4, 1975
December 28, 2021
Net Worth
$1.5 billion
  • Young Global Leader
Place of Birth
Fields of Expertise
[“Business”,”Entrepreneurship”,”Foreign Affairs”]
Stanford University, PayPal, eBay, United States Government
Member of the PayPal Mafia, Entrepreneur, Chief Diplomat/Chief Ambassador to Sweden

Who Is Ken Howery?

Ken Howery
Ken Howery is one of the five original founders of Paypal.

Ken Howery is an American businessman. He has been involved in some of the country’s most successful business stories, including serving as a co-founding member of PayPal. During this time, Howery became a member of the PayPal mafia, the name given to the group of men who started successful business careers as founding members of PayPal.

After the founding of PayPal, Howery has been involved in numerous other businesses successes. From 2019-2021, he was appointed by Donald Trump to serve as the American ambassador to Sweden. This makes him one of the only members of the PayPal mafia to spend time as a diplomat and serve the United States government. 

Early Life

Ken Howery was born in Texas and graduated from J. Frank Dobie High School. He performed well in school and attended Stanford University in California, where he graduated with a degree in economics. Howery was involved in many college activities and served as managing editor of the Stanford Review. 


Although Ken Howery is best known for his position as one of the five original co-founders of PayPal, he has actually been involved with several other successful business ventures. These include eBay and the Founder’s Fund. Let’s take a closer look below.


The PayPal Mafia
Ken Howery is best known as one of the co-founders of the digital wallet, PayPal


Howery is one of the five original founders of PayPal, joining Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Max Levchin and Luke Nosek in creating the company. In that role, Howery served as the company’s first Chief Financial Officer. He served that role from 1998-2002, working with the company as it originally staffed up, created its product line, made it’s Initial Public Offering, and was purchased by eBay.

Like many other members of the PayPal Mafia, Howery left the company after its sale to eBay. However, unlike most others, he actually then worked for eBay.


From 2002 to 2003, Howery worked for eBay, where he served the company as its Director of Corporate Development. The job didn’t last long, and Howery would leave the company to rejoin Peter Thiel in his next business venture.

Clarium Capital Management

Like many other members of the PayPal Mafia, Howery returned to Peter Thiel. He would rejoin Thiel at Clarium Capital Management. In that capacity, Howery served as Vice President of Private Equity. He also helped the company as a member of its research and trading teams. 

Founders Fund

The Founders Fund is a technology-oriented venture capital fund. Like many of Howery’s projects, it was founded and supported heavily by Peter Thiel. 

The company boasts a very successful track record, being able to boost investments in over 200 companies and managing more than $3 billion during Howery’s time with the company. Some of its most successful investments include SpaceX, Spotify, Facebook, and more. Howery stayed with the Founders Fund for fourteen years. He left in 2019.

Ambassador to Sweden

Unlike many other members of the PayPal mafia, Howery veered into politics and government service. In January 2019, he was nominated by former President Donald Trump to serve as United States Ambassador to Sweden. He was confirmed by a 62-32 vote in September 2019 and sworn in that October.

As Ambassador and Chief Diplomat to the country, Howery sought to improve relations between America and Sweden. He helped the country strengthen its defense systems and improved the interoperability of Swedish and United States armed services. He also fought for increased investment in 5G technology, including investment that would use Sweden’s Ericsson components as opposed to the Chinese-made Huawai. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Howery helped to smooth out supply chain issues. Howery’s term as Swedish Ambassador expired with the end of the Trump Presidency. 

What Is Ken Howery Known For?

Largest E-Commerce Companies
After leaving PayPal Ken Howery then worked for eBay, where he served the company as its Director of Corporate Development


Business Successes

There is no question that one of Howery’s greatest successes has been his influence in the business world. He has worked at two of America’s most successful recent start-ups – PayPal and eBay – and influenced countless other businesses. All of this has made Howery a wealthy man, propelling his estimated net worth to more than $1.5 billion. 

Board Membership & Non-Profit 

As a well-connected entrepreneur, Howery serves on many boards, including Quantcast, PopExpert, and ZocDoc. Howery has had a business relationship with all three businesses.

He is also a member or advisor to numerous non-profits. These include Kiva, an organization that lends money to low-income individuals in over eighty countries. The money can be used to start businesses. Howery is also a member of the Explorers Club, a group that is dedicated to scientific exploration and expeditions throughout the world. 

Howery’s business success has made him a sought-after speaker. He has lectured and advised students at Harvard Business School, Stanford, and McCombs School of Business. 

PayPal Mafia

Like many other alumni of PayPal, Howery is considered a member of the PayPal Mafia. This is the group of individuals that were heavily involved with the company and its early successes from its starting point. As one of the five founders of the company, Howery can be considered one of the founding members of the PayPal Mafia.

Much of the PayPal Mafia has business relationships that are overlapping. For example, Howery went with Thiel, following him to Clarium Capital. Many of Howery’s investments – such as SpaceX – have also involved company’s founded or run by other PayPal Mafia members.

Ken Howery: Marriage, Children, and Personal Life

Net Worth

Howery’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 billion. 


Howery is not currently married and never has been.


Howery does not have any children. 

Ken Howery: Awards & Achievements

In March 2012, Howery was given the award of Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. This award – given to individuals under the age of 40 – is given to a “community of innovators” who attempt to move the world in a positive, forward direction. 

Ken Howery: Quotes

“The absolute most important thing is the people you work with—way more so than the business idea you’re working on.”

“Fail fast.”

“Intelligence is important, but by far the most important thing is to find teams that can think very independently.”

“The most important companies tend to look nothing like the companies that have existed before them, which is why all of our team members are generalists.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Ken Howery?

Ken Howery is a successful American businessman and entrepreneur. He has been involved in the founding of numerous companies and staff on multiple American businesses, including PayPal and eBay. Howery is also a member of the PayPal mafia, the group of men who cut their teeth in business by starting at PayPal. Unlike many others within the PayPal mafia, Howery spent time in the service of the American government and served as United States Ambassador to Sweden.

What company did Ken Howery found?

Howery co-founded PayPal with Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, and others. He also co-founded the Founders Fund, a venture capital firm.

What is Ken Howery's net worth?

Ken Howery’s net worth is $1.5 billion. This comes as a result of his numerous business successes.

Where does Ken Howery live?

His term as Ambassador to Sweden having concluded, Howery lives in the United States once again. He owns a house in Austin, Texas, and it is believed that Elon Musk may be currently living in Howery’s house. Howery does own other houses, but it is not exactly known where he currently lives.

Who is Ken Howery's wife? 

Ken Howery has never been married and has no wife. He has not commented publicly about the possibility of being married in the future, and to the knowledge of the public, he does not have a wife as of right now.

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