Billionaire investor Peter Thiel, one of the few tech executives who supports Donald Trump, is packing his bags and leaving Silicon Valley. He is reportedly fed up with one-sided politics.
Continue Reading Below
Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco, while also dialing back association with the tech industry, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with his thinking.
“Silicon Valley is a one-party state,” Thiel said during a debate over politics and technology at Stanford University, his alma mater. “The other side doesn’t care for you, and your side doesn’t care for you because they don’t need to.”
A rare, but prominent conservative within Silicon Valley, Thiel’s relationship with the tech industry has soured, particularly at Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The venture capitalist, who has served on the company's board of directors since 2005, was involved in a dispute with a fellow director due to his support for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to the Journal’s sources, who also said a related confrontation over boardroom leaks with the social media firm’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg last summer contributed to the strain.
The New York Times reported in August that Thiel was told he would receive a negative review of his board performance by Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and a member of Facebook’s board.
Thiel, who co-founded payment service PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) and invested $500,000 in Facebook in 2004—the year the social media giant was founded—sold three-quarters of his remaining stake in the company last November, part of a previously established plan. He had already sold more than $1 billion worth of stock before the filing, according to Reuters. Thiel sold 16.8 million shares at the company’s IPO in 2012 for about $640 million, and 20 million of his remaining 26 million shares for $400 million after a lockup expired. He sold just shy of 1 million shares for approximately $100 million in 2016.
Facebook shares are little changed this year.
Trump wasn't the first underdog Thiel supported. He took on media site Gawker, now defunct, by privately funding former pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan’s [whose real name is Terry Bollea] privacy suit over the publication of a sex tape in 2012. In 2016, a jury awarded Bollea a total of $140 million in damages, but the two sides eventually reached a settlement of around $30 million. As a result, Gawker is no more. The suit followed Gawker’s outing of Thiel, who is gay. In a New York Times Opinion piece, Thiel discussed the need for “moral limits”.
The 50-year-old Thiel plans to move into a 7,000 square-foot home that he bought six years ago, which overlooks the Sunset Strip, and will move the headquarters of Thiel Capital and Thiel Foundation to Los Angeles, a personal familiar with the matter told the Journal.