Roelof Botha: Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

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Roelof Botha: Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

Roelof Botha is a South African businessman who is best known for being a co-founder of PayPal. He was also the first Chief Finance Officer of PayPal. However, he is also a highly successful venture capitalist. He also has a history of successful investments in various technology companies. Following the sale of PayPal to eBay in 2003, Botha joined the investment firm Sequoia Capital where he still works today. In his position there he manages investments in many technology startups and sits on the board of many influential companies. These include Unity Software, Evernote, and Eventbrite.

Read on to explore the full biography of Roelof Botha and discover everything you need to know about his career, investments, and net worth.

Quick Facts

Full Name
Roelof Botha
September 19, 1973
Net Worth
  • Honorary PhD from Stellenbosch University
South African; American
Place of Birth
South African; American
Fields of Expertise
[“Venture Capital Investing”]
University of Cape Town; Stanford University
PayPal CFO

Who is Roelof Botha?

Roelof Botha is a venture capitalist and actuary known primarily for his role as a co-founder and Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of PayPal from 2000-2003. After PayPal’s acquisition by eBay, Botha joined investment company Sequoia Capital as a partner, a role he continues to hold today. At Sequoia, Botha manages investments in a number of companies, many of which are technology startups.

Early Life

Roelof Botha was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1973. Botha spent most of his early life in Cape Town, where he attended Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck, a public school taught in Afrikaans. After high school, Botha earned a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science, Economics, and Statistics in 1996 from the University of Cape Town. Botha is also a certified actuary, and in a 2014 interview with The Actuary said that the problem-solving skills he learned while completing his degree have been essential to his long-term thinking and success as a venture capitalist.

Although Botha is the most successful member of his family financially, he comes from a well-known family in South Africa. His father, Roelof Botha, is an award-winning economist and academic who has authored more than 500 articles and papers. His grandfather, Roelof Frederik “Pik” Botha, was a member of the South African House of Assembly during the 1970s and was the country’s foreign minister during the final years of apartheid.

The PayPal Mafia
Roelof Botha is best-known for being one of the co-founders of PayPal.


McKinsey and Company (1996-1998)

After graduating from university, Botha worked as a business analyst in South Africa for McKinsey and Company, an international management consulting firm. While there are no specific details available about what Botha did at the firm, the skills and on-the-job experience he gained in helping client companies work through their problems would undoubtedly be useful later. In 1998, Botha left the company and emigrated from South Africa to the US in order to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration at Stanford University’s graduate school of business.

PayPal (2000-2003)

While still a graduate student at Stanford, Botha joined PayPal as the director of corporate development and then as its vice president of finance. By 2001, when he was only age 28, Botha was the new company’s CFO, a role he would hold until eBay acquired PayPal in late 2002. Although Meg Whitman, eBay’s president, and CEO, was interested in having Botha stay on as PayPal’s CFO after the acquisition, in 2003, Botha left the company.

Sequoia Capital (2003-present)

After leaving PayPal, Botha joined the investment group Sequoia Capital as a partner. In his time at Sequoia, Botha has served on the board of nearly twenty companies, many technology-oriented companies. These include genetic testing service 23andMe, website design company Square, event scheduling company Eventbrite, cloud-based note recording company Evernote, and social networking site Tumblr, among others. He was also briefly a member of the board of directors for YouTube, the video-sharing site created by fellow PayPal Mafia members Steve Chen, Jawed Karim, and Chad Hurley, before the company was acquired by Google.

Roelof Botha shares lessons in leadership and decision-making at Stanford School of Engineering.

What Is Roelof Botha Known For?

Roelof Botha is known for his involvement in several multi-million dollar companies, although arguably his best-known role is as a co-founder of PayPal.


Roelof Botha is primarily known as an influential staff member of PayPal during its early years. Through his increasingly important roles in the company, culminating in CFO, Botha would have played a significant role in how PayPal attracted corporate investors, managed its finances, and continued on its road to success. As its CFO, Botha was also the person who negotiated PayPal’s sale to eBay. Botha was at a relatively young age when he held this position, making his accomplishments even more impressive.

Botha is also known as a member of the PayPal Mafia, a group of men who worked for the company in the early 2000s and became important investors, founders, and board members of other companies in Silicon Valley. Botha is generally considered a billionaire, but unlike other PayPal Mafia members, Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, his actual net worth is unknown. His investment through Sequoia Capital in companies like Xoom, Unity, Evernote, and more mean that he has had an outsized impact as a venture capitalist in the technology industry.

Roelof Botha: Marriage, Children, and Personal Life

Net Worth

Information about Roelof Botha’s net worth is difficult to find. Although there is no official valuation of his wealth, estimates generally range from $300 million and up. Many interviews and news headlines describe Botha as a billionaire, although they do not provide exact figures that define his real net worth.


While earning his MBA at Stanford, Botha met and began dating Huifen Chan. Botha and Chan got married sometime after graduation and are still together today. Interestingly, Chan worked as a senior product manager at eBay before the company acquired PayPal. Today, she works as an independent consumer services professional.


Botha and Chan have two children, a daughter born in 2006 and a son born in 2008.

Personal Life

Outside of investment, Botha is a fan of rugby and played both during high school and while attending Stanford. More recently, Botha and Chan have been involved with various philanthropic efforts, including financial support for the San Francisco Philharmonic. The couple also sponsors a professorship in economics and the Botha-Chan global innovation program at Stanford University.

Roelof Botha Quotes

“You have to put yourself in a position to be lucky.”

“You don’t want to be the site that people should use. You want to be the site they can’t stop using.”

“Money was invented for a reason. We’ve seen people try to use beans, etc., and it doesn’t work.”

“I think of myself as just another consumer.”

“I am sure innovation will blossom around the world, given that the Internet and mobile platforms enable innovators anywhere in the world to reach a global market with ease.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Roelof Botha?

Roelof Botha is a venture capitalist and actuary with a history of investments in technology companies. Botha was the first Chief Finance Officer for PayPal and is considered a member of the PayPal mafia, the group of men whose successes in Silicon Valley have been significant since its sale to eBay in 2003.

What happened to Roelof Botha?

After PayPal was acquired by eBay in 2003, Botha left the company to join investment firm Sequoia Capital. Botha still works for Sequoia today, where he manages investments in tech startups and sits on the boards of a number of influential companies, including Unity Software, Evernote, and Eventbrite.

How much is Roelof Botha worth?

Roelof Botha’s net worth is not officially known. Some sites put his net worth as low as $300 million, but he is also regularly referred to as a billionaire. No matter his actual net worth, Botha has definitely been very successful as a venture capitalist. His wealth comes primarily through his investments while at Sequoia Capital, as well as from the sale of PayPal to eBay while he was the company’s CFO.

How do you pronounce Roelof Botha?

For those not familiar with South African names, Roelof Botha can be hard to pronounce. The “roe” makes a sound like the word “rue,” and the “lof” is similar in pronunciation to the word “off.” While it may be tempting to pronounce “Botha” like the word “both,” that is incorrect. Instead, Botha sounds like the word “boo” followed by the words “a” and the “tu” sound from the word “tum.” This is usually transcribed as “Roo-lawf Boo-ah-tah.”

Where is Roelof Botha's house?

Roelof Botha currently lives in Menlo Park, California with his wife Huifen Chan and their two children. Botha also has a house in Los Altos, California.

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