On Friday PayPal spun out from eBay. This morning its shares started trading openly. By noon the market was valuing the company at over $50 billion, roughly 43 percent more than eBay. Not bad considering that eBay acquired the payment company back in 2002 for just $1.5 billion.
PayPal is still a dominant force in payments on the web. More importantly, it has branched out into mobile payments with the acquisition of Braintree, one of the leading providers of back-end technology for in-app payments. Braintree, in turn, had acquired Venmo, one of the fastest-growing peer-to-peer payment apps in the US. At the start of this month PayPal also acquired Xoom, giving it a play in the booming world of international money transfers. Taken together, this gives PayPal a well-diversified and rapidly expanding portfolio.
PayPal faces competition from fast-rising startups like Stripe and more existential threats from technologies like Bitcoin. Spinning out to become its own public company with its own shares and the ability to issue its own bonds will allow PayPal to more aggressively pursue acquisitions and compete for top talent.