Top-tier venture capitalist Peter Thiel is ditching the intolerance of Silicon Valley and moving himself and his personal investment arm to Los Angeles for better business opportunities.
Thiel started PayPal in 1998 and became the first big angel investor in Facebook. He is the founder and CEO of cyber-security firm Palantir Technologies, and his early-stage “unicorn” investments include SpaceX, Lyft, Airbnb, Spotify, and Stripe.
Thiel has been a known techno-libertarian for decades. In a 1999 mission statement to employees, Thiel trumpeted that PayPal digital transactions would eliminate the coercive power of governments to use currencies to strip citizens’ wealth through inflation. Thiel’s Founders Fund reportedly made over $200 million on an early $20 million Bitcoin bet.
But Breitbart News reported in November that Ellen Pao, who lost a who lost her 2015 gender discrimination and retaliation suit against the prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, had formed “Project Include” as a not-for-profit to wield economic and social boycotts to purge Silicon Valley of free thinkers like Thiel.
Pao declared, “[W]e struggle to rationalize Peter Thiel’s power and influence as he moves further and further out there. We were confused by his seasteading funding, angered by his negative views on women’s voting rights, amused by his reported fixation with living to 120, and annoyed by his keynoting the Republican National Convention” (original links). After Thiel donated to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Pao wrote, “this isn’t a disagreement on tax policy, this is advocating hatred and violence.”
Breitbart News reported that Pao and a number of other leftists have been running a vicious and very effective Internet retaliation campaign against Thiel, who appears to have been forced in November to resign from Silicon Valley’s top start-up investor, Y Combinator.
Shortly thereafter, an email leaked from Netflix CEO and fellow Facebook Reed Hastings, telling Thiel in 2016 that he had displayed “catastrophically bad judgment” for supporting Trump and advising the President’s White House transition team. The Journal article indicates that Thiel recently offered to resign from Facebook’s board.
Last month at a Stanford University Cardinal Conversation, Thiel suggested that tech companies are playing the political game poorly. He said that Silicon Valley is a “one-party state,” leaning left, while the banking industry hedged its bets by supporting both political parties before and after the 2009 financial crisis. Thiel argues that Silicon Valley is now less able to understand and connect with the whole of the American electorate.
The Journal cites unnamed sources that billionaire Thiel now wants to “reduce his direct role in the Silicon Valley tech industry that he helped to shape.”
Thiel may have been planning his Silicon Valley exit as early as 2011, when he began lobbing New Zealand’s Cabinet ministers to grant him citizenship as a venture capitalist, despite only spending 12 days in the country, according to the New Zealand Herald. Thiel invested $50 million in local tech start-ups and is currently buying up real estate there.