|Someone is wrong on|
“”I'd rather be seen as evil than incompetent.
Peter Andreas Thiel (1967–) was born in Germany and raised in the US. He is a citizen of Germany (by birth), the United States (by naturalization), and New Zealand (by moolah), though there is suspicion about the circumstances under which Thiel became a New Zealand citizen. Thiel is a hedge fund manager and venture capitalist. He was a co-founder of PayPal and later used the proceeds from the sale of PayPal to make early investments in companies such as Facebook, where he made most of his fortune.
Thiel has gained significant publicity from being a homosexual who openly supports Republican politicians, including anti-gay Vice President Mike Pence. He has also gained ire in the media for funding multiple lawsuits against Gawker and its subsidiaries, leading to Gawker's bankruptcy. Thiel has been funding a network of anti-liberal Christians at Cambridge University, many of whom have links to racist and authoritarian ideas and figures such as Toby Young and Charles Murray.
Thiel made his first large investment by co-founding PayPal in 1999, giving the company $500,000 and taking partial control over its business decisions. His original goal was to promote PayPal primarily as an online currency exchange, but its secondary purpose of processing credit cards and wire transfers for eBay was far more popular and, most importantly, more profitable.[Note 1]
Thiel's half-million dollar investment in PayPal grew to $55 million after PayPal's IPO in 2002. To date, this is Thiel's highest-yielding investment as an annual percentage.
Thiel used the capital gains from his sale of PayPal stock to create Clarium Capital in 2002, a hedge fund that charges large "performance fees" for gains in place of a flat maintenance fee. The fund made its primary gains by betting on oil price spikes in the mid-2000s.
In 2008, Thiel used the Austrian school of economic reasoning to predict the following:
- Low interest rates would increase the money supply, thereby causing inflation and price spikes for oil, natural gas, and gold.
- The S&P 500 index would plummet due to high inflation, an energy crisis, and the election of any non-libertarian President.
- Barack Obama would somehow make doing business in the United States impossible.
- U.S. government bonds would lose value, and the Federal government would struggle to pay Carter-era bond yields of 20% or more.
The opposite happened:
- Low interest rates caused lending rates to plummet, but inflation remained subdued thanks to the majority of consumers depositing excess money in savings accounts. Banks would send excess money to the Federal Reserve, in effect giving the money the Federal Reserve "printed" back to the Federal Reserve.
- A sudden slump in demand for oil due to the 2008 Financial Crisis caused global oil prices to fall from a high of over $140 per barrel to a low of $28 per barrel. Low interest rates financed American natural gas operations, in particular fracking, causing the price of natural gas to fall from a high of $14 per MMBTU to $2.
- Obama enacted an extremely business-friendly policy for the technology sector and part of the automotive sector. On a related note, Thiel's former PayPal associate Elon Musk took advantage of Obama's policies by introducing a luxury electric sports car.[Note 2]
- Excess savings deposited into banks that were not sent back to the Federal Reserve were used to buy U.S. government bonds. This caused yields to fall to historic lows. As of 2017, the highest yielding Federal bond as of 2017 pays only 3% interest.
Thiel's fund lost over 90% of its value in 18 months.
Founded in 2004, Palantir Technologies is a private software firm that specializes in writing custom software to analyze large sets of data. Its largest sources of revenue include the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as customers. Palantir was sued by the U.S. Department of Labor in September 2016 for systematic hiring discrimination against Asian job applicants.
Thiel is a noted venture capitalist in Silicon Valley; after Thiel's PayPal success, in 2005, Thiel set up a venture capital firm called Founders Fund, which has gone on to help fund many startups. Although most of his venture capital activity is beyond the scope of RationalWiki, in the 2020s, Thiel curiously began to divert some of his funding to several projects whose main distinguishing philosophy was being "anti-woke". Thiel even stepped down from the board of Facebook in mid-2022 because, in his opinion, the company was too "woke" for his tastes.
The resulting "anti-woke" startups have often not exactly been success stories.
The Right Stuff
In February 2022, Thiel injected $1.5 million into a seed round for a new dating app targeting anti-"woke" conservatives, and headed by former Trump advisor John McEntee. The new app was named "The Right Stuff", despite this name already being used by an existing niche dating site targeting top-tier university and medical school graduates, as well as a rather racist blog. It is perhaps the only dating application that thinks that the type of profile questions that will spark a romantic relationship are topics like the 2021 U.S. coup attempt, your "favorite liberal lie", and your "favorite conservative pundit". Naturally (but, considering Thiel's orientation, ironically), at the time of the launch, only straight people were allowed.
After launching in September, early reports indicate relatively low usage (especially by women), in part due to its intense invite-only verification process intended to keep trolls away, and perhaps also in part due to its strange focus on extremist outrage politics.
Founded by energy investor Toby Neugebauer, co-founded by Candace Owens, and with the backing of Thiel and hedge-fund investor (and r/wallstreetbets arch-nemesis) Kenneth C. Griffin, GloriFi aimed to be an "anti-woke" banking alternative for conservatives who think that Wall Street is somehow too liberal. In particular, GloriFi sought to differentiate themselves from many big banks who in recent years pledged token support for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles in their business. The result was a disaster. Launching in September 2022, the bank shut down in November 2022, having burned through $50 million dollars of capital. Reportedly much of the blame for the collapse fell squarely on Neugebauer, who ran the startup from his home, engaged in volatile behavior and frequent bouts of drunkenness, and was more concerned with impractical conservative virtue signaling style marketing than the actual business of running a bank.
Strive Asset Management
GloriFi failure aside, in 2022, Thiel was just one of many conservatives pushing back against ESG investing and other sorts of corporate issues that trigger Republicans. These "triggers", such as wind and solar energy, diversity training, and reimbursing travel for abortion care, typically were labeled with the all-purpose 2020s conservative snarl word "woke", even though many of these topics have been Republican bête noires for some considerable time. (It is no surprise that the usual suspects such as ALEC and the Heritage Foundation have also played a large part in orchestrating these "anti-woke capitalism" campaigns.)
In spring 2022, Thiel backed a startup called Strive Asset Management, headed by former biopharmaceutical CEO (and perpetual complainer about supposed "woke capitalism") Vivek Ramaswamy. The fund claimed to eschew "short-sighted political agendas that have caused companies to underinvest in American oil, natural gas and other promising forms of energy", and "focus on profits over politics".
Unsurprisingly, the fund is hardly "non-political", as the creation of the fund aligned with Republican efforts to divest state pension funds from major investment firms that had "woke" policies (such as, say, actually being a touch concerned about potential long term risks like climate change). One commentator described the setup as "grift capitalism", as the overall effort was a scheme designed to shift state pension funds from well established passive investing firms like Vanguard and BlackRock into untested entities over-focused on being "anti-woke", with potential excess exposure to fossil fuels. The Economist also noted that these "anti-woke" funds, which tend to be more occupied with bashing ESG-promoting firms than prioritizing shareholder returns and cutting costs, are considerably more expensive investment vehicles to own. For instance, Strive's most popular "anti-woke" energy ETF (DRLL) charged 4 times the yearly fees on assets compared to the largest standard energy ETF (XLE). Of course, Strive also initiated corporate board campaigns attempting to steer away oil firms away from any emissions reduction mandates.
Dalliances with the alt-right
In a sense Thiel's affair with alt-right thought predates its existence and goes back to his childhood in what was then called South West Africa (now Namibia) when Thiel was a child. Thiel's engineer father worked for a uranium mine there while Thiel attended school there for two and a half years.:5-6 At the time, South West Africa was administered by Apartheid-era South Africa, which no longer had a United Nations mandate to do so, hence mineral extraction was effectively illegal. This is not particularly damning for Thiel since he was a juvenile at that time, except that when he attended Stanford University he defended Apartheid on at least two occasions, including on one occasion telling an African American student that denial of civil rights to black Africans in South Africa was 'economically sound'.:18-19
Although Thiel may have occasionally expressed disdain for the alt right ("he thought they were losers":203), it hasn't stopped him from funding and associating with them. Thiel has funded:
- alt-right activist Charles C. Johnson (between $100,000 and $200,000),:202 Thiel has also funded Johnson's company, Traitwell.:333
- Tlon, failed project, run by his longtime friend and founder of the neoreactionary movement Curtis Yarvin ("Mencius Moldbug").:247,320
- Quillette (secretly, according to Johnson):231
Thiel has also associated himself with VDARE and Kevin DeAnna, founder of the white nationalist organization Youth for Western Civilization.:203 Jeff Giesea, Thiel's longtime collaborator, has also funded alt-right endeavors.:255,278 Thiel's connection to the Trump White House went entirely through Steve Bannon, ending after Bannon left the White House following the Unite the Right riot.:271-272
In the 2022 midterms, Thiel notably spent $32.5 million in two Senate campaigns, split between J. D. Vance in Ohio, and Blake Masters in Arizona (the latter of whom once was Chief Operating Officer at Thiel Capital and thus closely aligned with Thiel's vision). Results were mixed: Vance won, and Masters lost, but in both cases the data showed that both candidates under-performed their expected result. This suggested that both candidates suffered from a "candidate quality problem" (as Mitch McConnell alluded to in August 2022), where their extremist views repelled voters.
Naturally, Thiel's reaction to both the mixed results of his hand-picked candidates, and the overall lackluster performance of the GOP (despite many favorable fundamentals) in the 2022 midterms, was not to blame extremist candidates pushed by people like himself, but to blame McConnell and "diversity" in the GOP.
Thiel considers himself a libertarian who subscribes to the Austrian school of economics. This is ironic, considering the most outspoken member of the Austrian school is Hans-Hermann Hoppe, an extreme homophobe. Also, much of Thiel's income comes directly from being a contractor for the American government.[Note 3]
Thiel also has a disdain for women.[Note 4] In a 2009 essay written for Cato Unbound, Thiel theorized that giving women the right to vote set the United States on a downward spiral:
The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of "capitalist democracy" into an oxymoron.—Peter Thiel 
Peter Thiel subscribes to various woo, having grown up in California, and believing he is smarter than everyone else.
Thiel believes that frequent blood transfusions from young orphans can extend his life indefinitely. This is the modern equivalent of bloodletting (or perhaps vampirism) and is nothing more than a panacea: "young blood" only replaces old blood, something the human body already does hundreds of times a day.
Thiel also prescribes human growth hormone to himself, believing that it reverses aging. The NIH condemns this practice, citing instances of diabetes, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and Hodgkin's lymphoma, among other side effects.
Thiel invested $500,000 in a failed LessWrong-inspired medical advice project called MetaMed.
Like many libertarians, he has flirted with seasteading, the concept of building a libertarian society in international waters, before deciding it's a stupid idea.
Feud with Gawker
Thiel funded several lawsuits against Gawker, most notably Gawker Media LLC v. Bollea, a.k.a Hulk Hogan. Bollea won the case and was awarded $140 million in damages.
Proponents of Thiel celebrate the verdict as a victory over tabloid journalism, while opponents consider the victory a chilling effect on freedom of the press. Either conclusion is extreme and is a result of the hostile media effect.
Arguments for Thiel
Defenders of Peter Thiel's actions typically refer to two events: Gawker "outing" Thiel as gay and Gawker publishing a recording of Terry Bollea as illegal voyeurism.
Before Gawker published its now-infamous article, Peter Thiel is totally gay, people, in 2007, writer Owen Thomas contacted Thiel, requesting a comment. Thiel did not object to the publishing of the article at the time. The article was not an attempt to demonize Peter Thiel; rather, it was a celebration of a homosexual who appeared to be a wealthy, well-adjusted individual succeeding in a world dominated by Bible-thumping Wall Street stiffs.
Thiel's objection to Gawker came only after his hedge fund company, Clarium Capital, lost billions of dollars in 2008 and 2009. In private, Thiel blamed the Gawker article for scaring away potential investors in the Middle East. Thiel was a very confident individual who considered himself too smart to lose money. Rather than blame his loss of billions of dollars on his own bad ideas, he sought a scapegoat.
Unfortunately for Thiel, suing a media company for calling him a homosexual would have gotten him nowhere. He could not sue for libel, since it's technically true that he is a homosexual.[Note 5] Thiel could not sue under any California privacy statute, since Thiel himself had admitted to being gay before the Gawker article was released.
Hulk Hogan sex tape
Peter Thiel defends his funding of Terry Bollea's legal action against Gawker, claiming that "a single digit millionaire" could not afford a proper legal offense against a large media company. This is patently false, particularly in Florida, where Terry Bollea's former friend Bubba The Love Sponge (a.k.a., Todd Alan Clem)[Note 6] is also a single-digit millionaire. Clem brags that his litigation team has never lost a case, though nearly all of those cases feature "Bubba The Love Sponge" as a defendant.
Clem was a defendant in a separate case involving the sex tape. Though "Bubba The Love Sponge" has a name that makes him sound like a dolt, he was smart enough to settle the case out of court for a mere $5,000.
Clem has a unique position in the sex tape scandal because he is not just an accomplice: he is also a victim. The sex tape itself was part of Clem's home security system. Clem alleges that his former co-workers, Michael "Cowhead" Calta, and Matthew "Spice Boy" Lloyd, stole the recording and searched for a tabloid to sell it to.[Note 7] Clem also alleges Calta and Lloyd brokered the sale of the sex tape to Gawker through Don Buchwald. Calta and Lloyd were asking for "millions" but only received $8,000.
Peter Thiel has declined to fund any legal case against Michael Calta or Matthew Lloyd. Apparently, Bubba The Love Sponge Clem isn't enough of a "single-digit millionaire" to warrant Thiel's help.
Arguments against Thiel
Journalists and media company executives — notably, former Gawker CEO Nick Denton — argue that litigating against media companies for publishing unsavory information about public figures has a "chilling effect" that will lead to censorship. Denton is correct, to a point.
Freedom of speech
"Whistleblower laws" already exist to defend journalists, employees, and activists in general from litigation for illicitly recording a newsworthy event. However, these laws only offer protection when the recorded act is illegal. Had the recording in Bubba The Love Sponge Clem's house actually recorded a crime, Denton may have had a valid defense in court. Having sex with your best friend's wife is not illegal in Florida.
Nick Denton does have a point about Peter Thiel's choice of action. The act of funding Terry Bollea's lawsuit against Gawker appears to be part of a larger action to destroy Gawker by any means necessary, a textbook example of "the ends justifying the means".
Thiel has funded another lawsuit against Gawker: a defamation case filed for Shiva Ayyadurai. Ayyadurai claims he invented email in 1978 (not Ray Tomlinson in 1971 as consensus reality has it), and claims that Gawker's refuting of Ayyadurai's claim had hurt his reputation.[Note 8] Gawker settled the case for $750,000, but only to close the case so that Gawker could be sold.
- ↑ Processing credit cards in the United States yields up to a 3% fee, versus a 1% fee or less for currency exchanges and wire transfers.
- ↑ IRC 30D allows Tesla owners to claim a one-time $7,500 tax credit for buying an electric vehicle. While commendable, the credit would have phased out faster if Musk had founded a marque for an established automobile company, since the credit only applies to the first 200,000 vehicles sold by a company including all of its marques. The tax credit would phase out faster from sales of the Nissan Leaf, Ford Fusion Energi, or Chevrolet Volt if Musk had partnered with Nissan, Ford, or GM, respectively.
- ↑ However, getting government money and being a libertarian are compatible with objectivism.
- ↑ Homosexuals typically support women's rights. Thiel's hatred for women is almost at Dr. Strangelove-level insanity.
- ↑ In the United States, truth is an absolute defense against a libel claim.
- ↑ Born Todd Alan Clem, he legally changed his name to "Bubba The Love Sponge Clem" after receiving the nickname on his eponymous radio show, The Bubba The Love Sponge Show.
- ↑ Unfortunately, neither Calta nor Lloyd legally changed their names to "Cowhead" or "Spice Boy".
- ↑ Ayyadurai wrote a software program in 1979 called EMAIL that only operated in one office for one internal network. Ray Tomlinson is widely accepted as the actual inventor of email, having sent the first "user@domain" message over the Internet in 1971.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley's Pursuit of Power by Max Chafkin (2021) Penguin Press. ISBN 1984878530.
- ↑ New Zealand decided it was in the public interest to make Peter Thiel a citizen by Anna Fifield (February 1, 2017 at 2:30 AM) The Washington Post.
- ↑ How the Gawker Media Bankruptcy Will Work by Jonathan Guilford (06/21/16 09:45AM) Gawker.
- ↑ Peter Thiel’s Free Speech for Race Science Crusade at Cambridge University Revealed by Nafeez Ahmed (10 December 2021) Byline Times.
- ↑ Jackson, Eric M. (2004). The PayPal Wars. pp. 321–327.
- ↑ Ebay Inc – ‘S-4’ on 8/6/02
- ↑ "Thiel’s Hedge Fund Plummet". The New York Post.
- ↑ "Pessimism Exacts a Price on the Skeptics". Wall Street Journal.
- ↑ [http://gawker.com/5310398/the-quick-gutting-of-peter-thiels-clarium-capital "The Quick Gutting of Peter Thiel's Clarium Capital" Gawker.
- ↑ "Leaked Palantir Doc Reveals Uses, Specific Functions And Key Clients". TechCrunch.
- ↑ Palantir Sued Over Alleged Hiring Discrimination: Labor Department says data-mining firm has shown bias against Asian job applicants since at least 2010 by Tim Higgins (Updated Sept. 27, 2016 1:09 a.m. ET) The Wall Street Journal.
- ↑ "Peter Thiel helped build big tech. Now he wants to tear it all down." by Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 2022 June 19
- ↑ "Peter Thiel backs conservative dating app The Right Stuff" by Sara Fischer, Axios, 2022 February 2022
- ↑ "Right Wing Dating App Prompts Users to Share Details About January 6th" by Lauren Leffer, Gizmodo, 2022 October 5
- ↑ "‘Jan. 6 was…’: Peter Thiel-backed conservative dating app prompts are exactly what you’d expect" by Claire Goforth, Daily Dot, 2022 September 30
- ↑ "I Tried The Right Stuff, The Conservative Dating App" by Ginny Hogan, Bustle, 2022 October 10
- ↑ "Gay Billionaire Peter Thiel Is Backing a Straights Only Anti-Woke Dating App" by James Factora, Them, 2022 August 16
- ↑ "Peter Thiel’s Conservative Dating App Floundering After 3 Months" by Noah Kirsch and Zachary Petrizzo, Daily Beast, 2022 December 28
- ↑ "The Reviews For That Conservative Dating App Are In—and They’re Thrilling" by Inae Oh, Mother Jones, 2022 October 6
- ↑ "Ken Griffin: The Hedge Fund Titan In The Middle Of The Reddit Investing Revolt" by Ryan Kailath, NPR, 2021 February 4
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 21.2 "How Fast Can A Non-Bank Startup Burn $50 MM?" by Ann Rutledge, Forbes, 2022 November 25
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 "How a New Anti-Woke Bank Stumbled" by Rachel Louise Ensign, Peter Rudgeair, and AnnaMaria Andriotis, Wall Street Journal, 2022 October 10
- ↑ "Anti-woke' Texas banking startup GloriFi folds like a lawn chair" by Michael Murney, Houston Chronicle, 2022 November 21
- ↑ "The ESG Investing Backlash" by Ellen Kennedy, Kiplinger, 2022 September 6
- ↑ "Peter Thiel-Backed Startup Rolls Out ‘Profits Over Politics’ ETF", Financial Advisor IQ, 2022 August 15
- ↑ "Republicans Prepare to Ramp Up Their Anti-ESG Campaign in 2023" by Saijel Kishan and Danielle Moran, Bloomberg News, 2022 December 29
- ↑ "Grift Capitalism: The GOP’s Brilliant Strategy For Ripping Off Ordinary Americans" by Robert G. Eccles, Forbes, 2022 July 5
- ↑ "The anti-ESG industry is taking investors for a ride", The Economist, 2023 March 2nd
- ↑ "Investors ramp up pressure on Big Oil firms to set 2030 climate targets" by Ron Bousso and Sabrina Valle, Reuters, 2022 December 18
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on South West Africa.
- ↑ Kelly Kauffman (March 1, 2023). "'Guardian angel' donors poured more than $440.9 million into 73 federal super PACs during 2022 cycle". Open Secrets News.
- ↑ "Peter Thiel’s picks Masters, Vance split key Senate races in Arizona, Ohio after billionaire spent $32 million on 2022 midterms" by Brian Schwartz, CNBC, 2022 November 12
- ↑ "The GOP had terrible Senate candidates and it really did sink them" by Andrew Prokop, Vox, 2022 November 16
- ↑ "Peter Thiel calls midterms ‘not merely disastrous but also depressing’ for GOP" by Julia Mueller, Hill, 2022 December 14
- ↑ Thiel, Peter. "The Education of a Libertarian". Cato Unbound.
- ↑ Peter Thiel Wants to Inject Himself With Young People's Blood. by Maya Kosoff (August 1, 2016) Vanity Fair.
- ↑ Peter Thiel Is Interested in Harvesting the Blood of the Young by J. K. Trotter (08/01/16 01:00PM) Gawker.
- ↑ Israel, Brett. "Young blood does not reverse aging in old mice, UC Berkeley study finds". Berkeley News.
- ↑ "Peter Thiel: I'm on the Human-Growth-Hormone Pill". Bloomberg.
- ↑ Provision or distribution of growth hormone for "antiaging": clinical and legal issues. NIH.gov.
- ↑ Come With Us If You Want to Live: Among the apocalyptic libertarians of Silicon Valley by Sam Frank (January 2015) Harper's. mirror
- ↑ An island nation that told a libertarian 'seasteading' group it could build a floating city has pulled out of the deal, Business Insider, Mar 14, 2018
- ↑ Peter Thiel-founded floating-island plan sunk by the government of paradise?, The Mercury News, Mar 15, 2018
- ↑ GAWKER MEDIA LLC v. BOLLEA LLC LLC LLC KFT. Retrieved from FindLaw.
- ↑ Madigan, Nick. Jury Tacks On $25 Million to Gawker's Bill in Hulk Hogan Case". The New York Times.
- ↑ Podnar, Rachel. Blog Log: Weep for the ‘single-digit millionaires’ and bust out your holiday gear. The Washington Post
- ↑ Bollea v Clem
- ↑ Mitchell, Houston. Hulk Hogan settles lawsuit with Bubba the Love Sponge. Los Angeles Times.
- ↑ Spice Boy is a Thief. Bubba The Love Sponge
- ↑ Morris, David Z. The $750,000 Gawker Settlement That Could Distort Internet History