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eBay’s PayPal Acquires IronPearl To Fuel Growth Beyond 123M Users

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About a month ago, I wrote about a stealthy company called IronPearl, led by Stan Chudnovsky and James Currier. They were growth hackers before the word “growth hacker” even existed. In fact, they don’t even really like the word “growth hacker.”

For years, Chudnovsky had been advising companies like Goodreads, Path, Wanelo, Poshmark, Lyft and Highlight on how to acquire users. His stealth startup, IronPearl was systematizing that advice. He and his partner have been building a set of optimization tools that will track a user through a site or app and test which combinations work best to keep them coming back after a week or a month — although the goal can be whatever you want it to be.

PayPal, along with GoodReads (which was recently bought by Amazon), were early testers.

Apparently, IronPearl’s product and the pair’s expertise was so valuable that eBay’s PayPal unit decided to just outright buy the company before launch. We hear the price in the “double-digit millions,” although neither company is talking about the price.

With the deal, Chudnovsky becomes Paypal’s vice president of growth while Currier will be a growth advisor. (Currier won’t be coming on full-time.)

“Creating a growth group is foundational for us,” said PayPal president David Marcus. “PayPal has grown to almost 125 million users almost organically, and we’ve never pulled the levers to grow much faster. There are only very few, world-renowned growth hackers in the world and Stan is one of them.”

Chudnovsky and Currier were behind a Web 1.0 company called Tickle that did personality quizzes and tests. It was later acquired by job site Monster for about $100 million. He then got into gaming and sold Wonderhill to midcore developer Kabam. Then he got into advising before starting IronPearl.

“The main reason I decided to sell is because I’ve built companies before,” Chudnovsky said. “I know what that path looks like. When you look at something like PayPal, it’s different. It’s more of a marketplace than just a sheer network. There are merchants and people transacting with each other.”

Chudnovsky will lead a growth team that will focus on building out PayPal’s customer base beyond 123 million registered users.