Person

Peter Thiel

Born:

1967

Occupation:

Political donor, technology investor

Net worth:

$5 Billion [38]

Peter Thiel is a technology investor and a mega-donor to Republican Party candidates. [1] Thiel co-founded PayPal in 1998 and in 2004 was the first outside investor in Facebook. He was on the Facebook corporate board from 2005 to 2022. [2]

As of March 2022, Forbes ranks Thiel as 273rd among the world’s wealthiest people, with a net worth of $5 billion. [3]

Thiel secretly funded a lawsuit by retired wrestler Hulk Hogan that bankrupted Gawker Media, which had outed Thiel as gay years earlier. [4]

Personal Life

Thiel was born in Frankfurt, Germany in October 1967, and his parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was one year old. [5]

He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in philosophy and later from Stanford Law School. He was the founding editor of the Stanford Review, a conservative student newspaper, and was president of the Stanford chapter of the Federalist Society. [6] [7]

Thiel was heavily influenced by French philosopher Rene Girard, who taught at Stanford. Girard believed humans were deeply prone to copy and imitate one another. [8]

Thiel, who has called himself a proud gay Republican, is married to Matt Danzeisen, and they have two adopted children. [9] Thiel owns homes in Los Angeles and Miami. In 2021, he also bought a home in Washington, D.C., valued at $13 million, from former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. [10]

Career

Thiel was previously a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse Financial Products, a securities lawyer for Sullivan and Cromwell, a speechwriter for former Education Secretary William J. Bennett, and a law clerk for Judge Larry Edmondson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. [11]

Pivoting from law to business, Thiel raised $1 million from friends and family to launch Thiel Capital Management to invest in technology companies. He teamed with Max Levchin to launch PayPal in 1998. [12] After PayPal went public in 2002, eBay bought the company, with Thiel’s share valued at $55 million. He used funds from the PayPal sale to start Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund. [13] He is also a co-founder of Mithril Capital Management and Valar Ventures. [14]

In 2004, Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook, buying a 10 percent interest in Facebook for just $500,000. He was on the Facebook (later known as Meta Platforms) corporate board from 2005 to 2022. [15] [16] Criticizing censorship on Facebook in October 2021, while still a board member, Thiel said, “I will take QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories any day over a Ministry of Truth.” [17]

He launched Palantir Technologies, a data analytics company that that works in national security and global finance. The company went public in 2020. [18]

Thiel is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, “Zero to One: Nots to Startups, or How to Build the Future,” which sold about 3 million copies globally. [19] [20]

In 2021, working with former Donald Trump aide John McEntee, Thiel committed $1.5 million for a dating app for conservatives called The Right Stuff. [21] [22]

Thiel is a partner and managing director at Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has funded companies such as SpaceX, Airbnb, Affirm, and Stripe. [23]

As of March 2022, Forbes ranks Thiel 273rd among the world’s wealthiest people with a net worth of $5 billion. [24]

Gawker Lawsuit

The blog Valleywag, a subsidiary of Gawker Media, outed Thiel as gay in 2007. [25]

Thiel secretly funded legendary pro wrestler Hulk Hogan’s privacy lawsuit against Gawker that led to the website declaring bankruptcy in 2016. [26]

Philanthropy

Thiel runs a grantmaking organization, the Thiel Foundation, which supports science and technology, humanitarian efforts, and LGBT interests. [27]

In philanthropy, he has supported the Human Rights Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists. He has also supported GOProud, an organization of gay Republicans, and was a donor to the American Foundation for Equal Rights. [28]

Political Views and Activity

In 1995, Thiel and David Sacks wrote “The Diversity Myth,” which argued against “the extreme focus on racism.” [29] In a 2009 essay for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, Thiel wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” [30]

Thiel was a California delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention in his former hometown of Cleveland, Ohio for Donald Trump and has regularly been identified as one of the few open Trump supporters in Silicon Valley. He also spoke at the Republican National Convention that year. [31]

Thiel gave $1.25 million to Trump’s election effort and later served on then-President-elect Trump’s transition team. [32] Thiel reportedly recommended about 150 people for jobs in the Trump administration, but Trump only appointed about a dozen of those suggested. [33]

Thiel said while Trump was president: “There are all these ways that things have fallen short. It’s still better than Hillary Clinton or the Republican zombies.”  [34] However, he did not contribute money to President Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020. [35]

In 2022, Thiel has given more than $20.4 million to support Republican Senate and House candidates and announced he would support primary opponents to ten House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump over the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. As of March 2022, candidates Thiel has supported include Wyoming House candidate Harriett Hageman, Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, and Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters. [36]

Thiel ties Kenneth Griffin of the hedge fund Citadel as the largest individual donor to Republican politicians, according to the New York Times. [37]

References

  1.  “Peter Thiel.” Thiel Foundation. Accessed March 11, 2022. http://www.thielfoundation.org/peter ^
  2.  “Peter Thiel.” Thiel Foundation. Accessed March 11, 2022. http://www.thielfoundation.org/peter ^
  3. “Peter Thiel—#273.” Forbes. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/profile/peter-thiel/?sh=1046491b533a ^
  4. Streigfeld, David. “Peter Thiel’s Money Talks, in Contentious Ways. But What Does He Say?” New York Times. March 7, 2018. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/technology/peter-thiel-trump-facebook.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article ^
  5. “Thiel Foundation.” Web Directory. March 12, 2022. https://texturestudios.net/listing/the-thiel-foundation-64 ^
  6. “Peter Thiel.” Independent Institute. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.independent.org/aboutus/person_detail.asp?id=456 ^
  7. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  8. Streigfeld, David. “Peter Thiel’s Money Talks, in Contentious Ways. But What Does He Say?” New York Times. March 7, 2018. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/technology/peter-thiel-trump-facebook.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article ^
  9. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  10. Lizza, Ryan and Lippman, Daniel. “Peter Thiel is coming to Washington.” Politico. November 15, 2021. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/15/peter-thiel-is-coming-to-washington-522605 ^
  11. “Peter Thiel.” Independent Institute. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.independent.org/aboutus/person_detail.asp?id=456 ^
  12. De Vynck, Gerrit and Tiku, Nitasha. “Who is Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire trying to push the U.S. to the right?” Washington Post. February 9, 2022. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/02/09/who-is-peter-thiel/ ^
  13. “Peter Thiel.” “Guide to Individual Donors.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/guide-to-individual-donors/peter-thiel.html ^
  14. “Peter Thiel.” Independent Institute. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.independent.org/aboutus/person_detail.asp?id=456 ^
  15. “Peter Thiel.” Thiel Foundation. Accessed March 11, 2022. http://www.thielfoundation.org/peter ^
  16. Stieb, Matt. “Peter Thiel to Leave Meta Board to Focus on Giving Republicans Money.” New York Magazine. February 7, 2022. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/02/peter-thiel-leaves-meta-to-focus-on-giving-republicans-money.html ^
  17. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  18. [1] “Peter Thiel—#273.” Forbes. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/profile/peter-thiel/?sh=1046491b533a ^
  19. “Peter Thiel.” Thiel Foundation. Accessed March 11, 2022. http://www.thielfoundation.org/peter ^
  20. Mallaby, Sebastian. “Peter Thiel Hates a Copycat.” The Atlantic. September 14, 2021. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/10/peter-thiel-max-chafkin-contrarian/619823/ ^
  21. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  22. Fischer, Sara. “Peter Thiel backs conservative dating app The Right Stuff.” Axios. February 15, 2022. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.axios.com/peter-thiel-conservative-dating-app-the-rightstuff-0ddffa1e-7296-4279-81c7-8d5eb3c75608.html ^
  23. “Peter Thiel—#273.” Forbes. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/profile/peter-thiel/?sh=1046491b533a ^
  24. “Peter Thiel.” “#273.” Forbes. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/profile/peter-thiel/?sh=1046491b533a ^
  25.  Mallaby, Sebastian. “Peter Thiel Hates a Copycat.” The Atlantic. September 14, 2021. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/10/peter-thiel-max-chafkin-contrarian/619823/ ^
  26. Streigfeld, David. “Peter Thiel’s Money Talks, in Contentious Ways. But What Does He Say?” New York Times. March 7, 2018. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/technology/peter-thiel-trump-facebook.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article ^
  27. “Peter Thiel.” “Guide to Individual Donors.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/guide-to-individual-donors/peter-thiel.html ^
  28.  [1] “Peter Thiel.” “Guide to Individual Donors.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/guide-to-individual-donors/peter-thiel.html ^
  29. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  30. Thiel, Peter. “The Education of a Libertarian.” Cato Unbound. April 13, 2009. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian/ ^
  31. “Peter Thiel—#273.” Forbes. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/profile/peter-thiel/?sh=1046491b533a ^
  32. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  33. [1] Mallaby, Sebastian. “Peter Thiel Hates a Copycat.” The Atlantic. September 14, 2021. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/10/peter-thiel-max-chafkin-contrarian/619823/ ^
  34. Streigfeld, David. “Peter Thiel’s Money Talks, in Contentious Ways. But What Does He Say?” New York Times. March 7, 2018. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/technology/peter-thiel-trump-facebook.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article ^
  35. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  36. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  37. Mac, Ryan and Lerer, Lisa. “The Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker.” New York Times. February 14, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/technology/republican-trump-peter-thiel.html ^
  38. “Peter Thiel—#273.” Forbes. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/profile/peter-thiel/?sh=1046491b533a ^
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