Greg Kouri, a former Palo Alto resident who was one of PayPal's first investors, died Saturday in New York City.
PayPal co-founder Elon Musk was just 23 when he and his younger brother Kimbal met Kouri, a real estate developer and friend of their parents, in Toronto in 1995. The trio moved to Silicon Valley, and Kouri helped the brothers launch a startup, Zip2, an early door-to-door direction service. Kouri became vice president of business development.
Compaq's AltaVista division bought the company in 1999 for $307 million, and the Musks and Kouri plowed some of the proceeds into X.com, an online financial services company. In 2000, Musk merged it with a payments startup called Confinity, led by Peter Thiel.
The combined entity was later renamed PayPal and helped seed a new generation of tech companies.
"I talked to Greg all last week. It's insane that he died," said Kimbal Musk, who now runs a group of fine-dining restaurants in Colorado.
Musk recalled his friend as "always an extremely helpful, egoless guy."
MSpot CEO Daren Tsui, who worked with Kouri at Zip2, called him "a great negotiator, good at reading
Kouri lived in Miami Beach, Fla., with his wife and two young daughters, according to the Miami Herald.
The paper quoted a cousin of Kouri's as saying he'd succumbed to a heart attack. He was 51.
Staff writer Jeremy C. Owens contributed to this report.