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Peter Thiel
Born 1967 (1967)
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Occupation Venture capitalist, hedge fund manager
Net worth $1.3 billion

Peter Andreas Thiel (born 1967) is an American entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, libertarian and venture capitalist. With Max Levchin, Thiel co-founded PayPal and was its CEO. He currently serves as president of Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund with more than $2 billion under management, and a managing partner in The Founders Fund, a $275 million venture capital fund he launched with Ken Howery and Luke Nosek in 2005. He was an early investor in Facebook, the popular social-networking site, and sits on the company’s board of directors.

Thiel was ranked #377 on the Forbes 400, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.[1]


Life and career

Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and raised in Foster City, California, Thiel was a US-rated Chess Master and one of the highest ranked under-21 players in the country.[2] He studied 20th century philosophy as an undergraduate at Stanford University. An avowed libertarian, he founded The Stanford Review, now the university's main conservative/libertarian newspaper.

After earning his J.D. from Stanford in 1992, Thiel clerked for Judge J.L. Edmondson of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, practiced law and later traded derivatives. He eventually founded Thiel Capital Management, a multistrategy fund, in 1996. After co-founding PayPal, Thiel took the company public on Feb. 15, 2002, and sold it to eBay for USD 1.5 billion later that year.[3] His 3.7 percent stake in PayPal was worth approximately $55 million at the time of the acquisition.[4] Immediately after the sale, Thiel launched a global macro hedge fund, Clarium, pursuing a global macro strategy. In 2005, Clarium was honored as global macro fund of the year by both MarHedge and Absolute Return, two trade magazines. Thiel’s approach to investing became the subject of a chapter in Steve Drobny’s book, Inside the House of Money. Thiel successfully bet that the US dollar would weaken in 2003, and gained significant returns betting that the dollar and energy would rally in 2005.

In addition to Facebook, Thiel has made early-stage investments in numerous startups (personally or through his venture capital fund), including Slide, LinkedIn, Friendster, Rapleaf,, Yammer, Yelp, Inc., Powerset, Vator, Palantir Technologies, Joyent and IronPort. Slide, LinkedIn, Yelp,, and Yammer were each founded by colleagues of Thiel’s from PayPal: Slide by Max Levchin, Linkedin by Reid Hoffman, Yelp by Jeremy Stoppelman, and Yammer by David Sacks. Fortune magazine reports that PayPal alumni have founded or invested in dozens of startups with an aggregate value of around $30 billion. In Silicon Valley circles, Thiel is colloquially referred to as the "Don of the PayPal Mafia", as noted in the Fortune magazine article. [5] Thiel's views on management are highly regarded, especially his famous observation that start-up success is highly correlated with low CEO pay.

Thiel is an occasional commentator on CNBC, having appeared numerous times on both Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo, and Squawk Box with Becky Quick [6]. He's twice been interviewed by Charlie Rose on PBS [7]. In 2006, he won the Herman Lay Award for Entrepreneurship.[8] In 2007, he was honored as a Young Global leader by the World Economic Forum as one of the 250 most distinguished leaders age 40 and under. [9] He was also reported to be an attendee of the elite and highly secretive Bilderberg Group conference in both 2007 and 2008.[10]. On November 7, 2009, Thiel was awarded an honorary degree from Universidad Francisco Marroquin.

Thiel’s cultural pursuits have recently included executive producing “Thank You for Smoking,” a feature film based on the Christopher Buckley novel of the same name. He is the co-author (with David O. Sacks, who produced TYFS) of the book The Diversity Myth: 'Multiculturalism' and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford, and has contributed articles to The Wall Street Journal, First Things, Forbes, and Policy Review, the journal of The Hoover Institution (on whose board he sits).


In late 2004, Thiel made a $500,000 angel investment in Facebook.


In February 2006 Thiel provided $100,000 of matching funds to back the Singularity Challenge donation drive of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Additionally he joined the Institute's advisory board and participated in the May 2006 Singularity Summit at Stanford.

In September 2006 Thiel announced that he would donate $3.5 million to foster anti-aging research through the Methuselah Mouse Prize foundation.[11] He gave the following reasons for his pledge: "Rapid advances in biological science foretell of a treasure trove of discoveries this century, including dramatically improved health and longevity for all. I’m backing Dr. de Grey, because I believe that his revolutionary approach to aging research will accelerate this process, allowing many people alive today to enjoy radically longer and healthier lives for themselves and their loved ones."

In May 2007 Thiel provided half of the $400,000 matching funds for the annual Singularity Challenge donation drive.

On April 15, 2008, Thiel pledged $500,000 to the new Seasteading Institute, directed by Patri Friedman, whose mission is "to establish permanent, autonomous ocean communities to enable experimentation and innovation with diverse social, political, and legal systems".[12]

Thiel is a supporter of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which promotes the right of journalists to report the news freely without fear of reprisal.[13]


When asked about his political beliefs in a 2006 United Press International interview, Thiel stated, "Well, I was pretty libertarian when I started [in business]. I'm *way* libertarian now."[14] In December 2007, he endorsed Ron Paul for President.[15]

Peter Thiel professes that he is unable to engage in what he terms “unacceptable compromise politics", further spelling out his views in a piece for the Oslo Freedom Forum: "We tend to like a government very much when we believe we’re among its net winners. That makes it very hard to think clearly about whether any of its laws are just or unjust. And because power corrupts, any state unchecked by vigorous public scrutiny and a free press will attempt to become the judge in its own cause and the intermediary of all human interaction."[16]

In 2009 it was reported that Thiel helped fund college student James O'Keefe's "Taxpayers Clearing House" video - a satirical look at the politics behind the Wall Street bailout.[17] O'Keefe went on to produce the ACORN undercover sting videos.[18]


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  3. ^ "eBay picks up PayPal for $1.5 billion". Archived from the original on 2008-07-14. Retrieved 2008-01-24. "On Monday, eBay said it is acquiring online payments company PayPal in a deal valued at $1.5 billion. [...]"  
  4. ^ "SEC Info - Ebay Inc - S-4 - On 8/6/02". Archived from the original on 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2008-01-24.  
  5. ^ "The PayPal mafia - Nov. 14, 2007". Archived from the original on 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2008-01-24.  
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  8. ^ "The Association of Private Enterprise Education". Archived from the original on 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2008-01-24.  
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  11. ^ "The Mprize-PayPal Founder pledges $3.5 Million to antiaging research". Archived from the original on 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2008-01-24.  
  12. ^ "Introducing The Seasteading Institute". Archived from the original on 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2008-04-16.  
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  15. ^ "Endorsements » Blog Archive » Peter Thiel". Retrieved 2008-01-24.  
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  18. ^ Facebook Investor Peter Thiel Funded ACORN Sting

Further reading

External links

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