Leader of PayPal’s Boston office out
David Chang, one of the state’s most prominent investors and advisers to startups, is out as head of PayPal’s Boston office after corporate parent eBay Inc. instituted companywide layoffs.
The online retail giant began handing pink slips to Boston employees this week, according to three people who were let go. One, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said most of the 60 to 70 engineers in the office were fired, along with about 20 sales and marketing workers.
EBay said in January it would reduce its worldwide rolls by 7 percent in the first quarter but declined Friday to confirm how many of the roughly 160 full-time employees in Boston would be affected. EBay has about 35,000 employees, about half of which work for PayPal.
The company already planned to spin off PayPal, its digital payments division, into a separate business later this year.
“We are not breaking it out by business unit or region,” Amanda Christine Miller, an eBay spokeswoman, said of the company’s staff reductions.
EBay gave no indication it would shutter the Boston office. The company is just two years into a seven-year lease of two floors at One International Place in the Financial District.
Chang said he had been in talks with eBay about assuming a different corporate position focused on building startups but ultimately failed to reach an agreement.
“We couldn’t nail down the specifics, so I was happy to part ways with the company as part of the eBay-PayPal split,” he said. “There’s no ill will from my side.”
Chang had been one of PayPal’s most visible faces in Boston since 2011, when eBay acquired his mobile advertising startup, Where Inc., for $135 million. Chang was Where’s vice president of product; after the sale, eBay renamed Where the PayPal Media Network and made Chang chief operating officer. He took charge of the Boston office in 2013.
His departure caught other leaders of Boston’s innovation community unaware. Jeff Bussgang, a partner at Boston venture firm Flybridge Capital Partners, called it a “big surprise for everyone.”
A mentor to fledgling technology companies at both Techstars and MassChallenge — the state’s leading business accelerator programs — Chang’s pet project at the helm of PayPal Boston was the Start Tank, a six-month program offering free workspace, business coaching, and networking help to about two dozen startups at a time.
Start Tank alumni include Wanderu, the digital service for booking bus and train tickets, and venture capital firm Launch Angels. The incubator’s future at PayPal appears uncertain without its protector in the office.
As an angel investor, Chang helped seed Crashlytics, a Cambridge startup that made a software tool for reporting bugs in mobile apps and was quickly scooped up by Twitter for a reported $100 million in 2013.
When the Legislature’s Tech Hub Caucus sought ideas for a bill to promote startups on the night after Election Day last fall, PayPal hosted a pitch contest with Chang moderating.
Four other technology startups at which Chang held leadership roles were either acquired or went public. Chang declined to comment further.
But David Delmar, who led the design team at PayPal Boston before leaving last summer to form his own company, speculated that Chang might “go back to his startup roots, maybe join one of his investments.”