FailCon: Failing Forward To Success

Entrepreneurs gathered in Silicon Valley this week to celebrate — not the thrill of success — but the agony of defeat. At FailCon, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin talked about how he failed repeatedly before making money with the online payment company. One piece of advice: Levchin says always have a co-founder — that way you can share the credit, as well as the blame.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Our last word in business today is failure.

This week, entrepreneurs gathered in Silicon Valley to celebrate, not the thrill of success, but the agony of defeat.

Mr. MAX LEVCHIN (Cofounder, PayPal): The very first company I started failed with a great bang. The second one failed a little bit less, but still failed. The third one, you know, proper failed, but it was kind of okay. I recovered quickly. Number four almost didn't fail. It still didn't really feel great, but it did okay. Number five was PayPal.

MONTAGNE: That's Max Levchin, founder of online payment company PayPal, which has succeeded. At the FailCon gathering, he and other company founders spoke about their missteps, the idea being to help other entrepreneurs avoid the same pitfalls.

Mr. LEVCHIN: I think glorifying failure is a little bit like saying that death gives reason to life. It probably does, but it still sucks to die and, you know, and it's no fun to fail as an entrepreneur, either.

MONTAGNE: One piece of advice: Max Levchin says always have a cofounder. That way you'll always be able to share the credit, as well as the blame.

And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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