How did Bryan Johnson make his money? The youth-chasing millionaire made a fortune selling his business to PayPal for $800 million

February 1, 2023, 12:56 PM UTC
Bryan Johnson on stage
The tech entrepreneur whose net worth is around $400 million wasn't born into wealth. Here's how he made his millions.
Kyle Grillot—Bloomberg/Getty Images

If you had all the money in the world, what would you buy? 

Perhaps a villa to house you and all of your loved ones? A collection of vintage cars? Maybe even a private jet complete with a personal pilot to take you anywhere in the world? 

In the case of Bryan Johnson, it’s trying to eke out his time on earth to the max.

While Silicon Valley tech billionaires, like Oracle’s founder Larry Ellison, Google co-founder Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos have long been funneling millions into the field of longevity research, Johnson is taking his quest to live as long as humanely possible a step further.

The 45-year-old American tech entrepreneur spends around $2 million a year to have the skin of a 28-year-old and the lung capacity of an 18-year-old. 

And despite making headlines for the extreme lengths he’s taking to fight aging, there’s one thing interesting many people who have only recently heard of the youth-chasing millionaire: How did he get rich enough to afford all these treatments in the first place? 

Bryan Johnson sits in a chair while undergoing a skin treatment.
Bryan Johnson undergoes a skin treatment.
Courtesy of Project Blueprint

Bryan Johnson had an early taste for entrepreneurialism 

Today, the Braintree and Kernel founder’s net worth is estimated to be around $400 million. But Johnson wasn’t born into extreme wealth. 

Born in a small religious town in Utah, Johnson lived with his mother and stepfather, who owned a trucking company. 

Before getting a taste for entrepreneurialism, he became a Mormon missionary and spent two years in Ecuador at 19.

Following this stint, he went to college and graduated with a BA in International Studies from Brigham Young University in 2003. It was during that time, that he launched his first three startups.

His first venture involved selling phones. He even enlisted other college students to sell service plans along with cell phones and earned around $300 commission on each sale.

Although the business failed to gain success, it helped pay his way through his studies. 

He also founded a voice communications company similar to Skype called Inquist, which shut shop in 2001.

Following that, he joined a real estate project with his brother, which also failed. 

Portrait of Bryan Johnson who is spending millions to reverse aging.
Bryan Johnson, the wealthy entrepreneur, is willing to pay what it takes to be 18 again.
Courtesy of Dustin Giallanza/Project Blueprint

Braintree: Johnson’s big break

Finally, Johnson got his big break when he founded the mobile payment platform Braintree in 2007. 

In just three years it had grown by over 4,000% and was boasting $4.6 million in revenue, earning it a spot on Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing companies for two years running.

The company ranked 47th in 2011 and 415th in 2012. That year, the company acquired Venmo for $26.2 million.

By September 2013, the business which was processing $12 billion in payments annually, was bought by Paypal for $800 million.

Johnson used $200 million from the acquisition to create the biotech venture firm OS Fund in 2014 and then later, the neurotechnology company Kernel. 

The OS Fund says it’s seeking founders who see beyond our lifetimes and has raised funding for 28 portfolio companies which range from designing protein that doesn’t exist in nature to kits that can detect diseases in your DNA.

Nearly all of the investments have received follow-on funding, three have been valued at over $1 billion and at least, two have been acquired.

Johnson’s Kernel launched in 2016. In just a year, it had already grown to a team of 30.

It has since designed headwear to measure brain signals with the aim of testing conditions like Alzheimer’s and by 2020, it had already raised around $53 million from outside investors.

Not one to slow down, Johnson published two children’s books between 2017 and 2019. On top of his investments and startups, the sales of Code 7: Cracking the Code for an Epic Life and The Proto Project: A Sci-Fi Adventure of the Mind, will be adding to his already sizable fortune.

His most recent venture is what made the recent round of headlines: Johnson launched Blueprint in 2021 with the aim to measure (and reverse) the aging process of 70 of his own organs and share his learnings with the world.

He recently claimed to have reversed his epigenetic age by 5.1 years. However, we are yet to find out just how lucrative chasing youth will be for Johnson.

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