Peter Thiel has had it with Silicon Valley.
The popular libertarian billionaire investor is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, the WSJ reported, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.
According to WSJ sources, Thiel has recently said tech culture has become increasingly intolerant of conservative political views since Mr. Trump’s election, an attitude he has said is intellectually and politically fraught.
As a result, after spending most of the past four decades in the Bay Area, the 50-year-old plans to permanently move into the 7,000-square foot home overlooking the Sunset Strip that he bought six years ago, a person familiar with the matter said. He also will move Thiel Capital and Thiel Foundation, two firms that oversee his investments, into new L.A. headquarters this year, the person said.
Underscoring the growing ideological polarization of the Valley, what prompted Thiel to take the drastic action was his disappointment with “what he sees as the intolerant, left-leaning politics of the San Francisco Bay Area” coupled with increasing pessimism about the prospects for tech businesses amid greater risk of regulation.
Separately, the WSJ said that Thiel also discussed the possibility of resigning from the board of Facebook: “His relationship with the social-networking company—where he has been a director since 2005, the year after its founding—came under strain after a dispute with a fellow director over Mr. Thiel’s support for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and a related confrontation over boardroom leaks with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg last summer.“
Still, for now “Thiel feels he can still help the company and is likely to remain on the board at least for now.”
He may have his hands full: according to Mashable, Facebook has seen a decline in traffic in recent weeks along with millions of users leaving its platform, and is “taking rather drastic measures to win them back. Specifically, spamming the hell out of them in a most unfortunate place. “
Thiel’s involvement with Facebook has arguably been Thiel’s biggest triumph: in 2004 he invested $500,000 for a 10% stake in 2004. Today, Facebook is valued at over $500 billion and used by more than two billion people a month. Thiel has made more than $1 billion from the investment
Facebook aside, the reason why Thiel decided to cut the cord with Silicon Valley is hardly a secret:
Thiel has long stood out in Silicon Valley for his vocal libertarianism, but he drew heavy criticism from many tech-industry peers—including fellow Facebook board member Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix Inc.—when he backed Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and later served as an adviser on his White House transition team.
Furthermore, in 2016 Thiel’s support for Trump drew criticism within Facebook, from rank-and-file workers commenting on employee message boards to Hastings. In a 2016 email to Thiel, Hastings called his support of Mr. Trump “catastrophically bad judgment” and questioned his fitness to remain on the board, according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The contents of the email were reported last year by the New York Times.
It is almost as if Thiel is angry that Silicon Valley is “tolerant” as long as it does not have to tolerate Trump supporters. “Silicon Valley is a one-party state,” Thiel said last month at a debate about tech and politics at Stanford University. “That’s when you get in trouble politically in our society, when you’re all in one side.”
Thiel’s concerns have been “echoed by other conservatives in tech who say they feel alienated by the industry’s broad embrace of liberal values.”
A majority of the tech workers who responded to a recent survey by Lincoln Network, an advocacy group for conservatives and libertarians in the tech sector, described the cultural norms of their workplace as liberal. More than one-third of workers who identified as conservative said the clash between their views and those of those of colleagues kept them from doing their best work.
Meanwhile, Facebook CEO, and the person many have speculated is preparing for his own presidential campaign, Mark Zuckerberg publicly deflected the criticism of Thiel, saying in March 2017 that demands for his removal were “crazy” and that “ideological diversity” had become a necessary component of diversity in the workplace and boardroom.
“Diversity” yes, as long as that “diversity” is in line with what everyone else in Silicon Valley agrees on. And that’s the problem.
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So what’s next for the famous billionaire investor? According to the WSJ:
“Thiel’s new projects in L.A. will include the creation of a new media endeavor, one of the people said. Mr. Thiel sees an opportunity to build a right-leaning media outlet to foster discussion and community around conservative topics, the person said.
Thiel Capital and Thiel Foundation plan to move their dedicated staff of about 50 employees to L.A., where they will continue to oversee Mr. Thiel’s personal holdings, one of the people familiar with his thinking said. Other investment firms associated with Mr. Thiel, including Founders Fund and Mithril Capital, will remain in San Francisco, the person said.
Meanwhile, Thiel continues to sever his ties to the Valley one by one: he recently exited the boards of Zenefits and Asana, cut ties with startup incubator Y Combinator and sold off the majority of his stakes in Twilio. He still serves on the boards of several companies, including Palo Alto, Calif.-based data-mining firm Palantir Technologies Inc.
Thiel paid $11.5 million for his Los Angeles home in 2012, according to real-estate data website Property Shark. He also has a home in New Zealand, where he was granted citizenship in 2011.
Why New Zealand? Because as we have discussed in the past, and as The Guardian does today, the small Pacific nation is the “bug out” location where all of America’s billionaires plan on moving to, if a “worst case” scenario were to strike America.
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