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PayPal and Yelp co-founder on the importance of Seven Samurai

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    Max Levchin was the co-founded of PayPal and Slide, helped fund Yelp, and has served on the boards of Evernote and Yahoo!. His latest venture is something called Affirm which handles personal financing. You could say that he knows a thing or two about business. Turns out that he also knows a thing or two about Seven Samurai.

    In the podcast interview below for a16z.com, Levchin mostly discusses Affirm and the future of banking, but towards the end (starting at about 29:30) he also talks a bit about why he is so obsessed with Seven Samurai, which he has seen over a hundred times. Apparently, it’s a perfect metaphor for a business startup.

    I think it’s a great example of how different things different people can get out of great works of art.

    It’s actually not the first time that Levchin has talked about his love for the film (see for instance here), and he of course isn’t the only one to connect Kurosawa’s filmmaking philosophy with business ideas. In fact, for some reason an older article titled 3 Leadership Lessons from Akira Kurosawa has also been popping up in various social media feeds in the past few days.

    Come to think of it, I’m actually surprised that no one has yet written a book titled “The Akira Kurosawa Bible for Business Success”. I think you could fairly easily take Kurosawa as a starting point and bullshit your way through a typical business self-help book. It could have chapter titles like “The Seven Samurai of Startup Dynamics”, “Ikiru and the Ethics of Your Business”, “Where is your Kagemusha? The Challenges of Leadership Legacy”, or “Madadayo! When Should You Admit Defeat?”.



    Thats interesting, although I can’t help feeling there is something a little obsessive about watching a film over 100 times! But I would imagine that would allow yourself to immerse yourself in it in a way impossible otherwise.

    A Kurosawa business book would be great, but I would imagine caution would have to be applied to anyone choosing The Bad Sleep Well as a model on how to get ahead in business. I’m not sure small business owners would appreciate I live in Fear either….



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