Occupation: entrepreneur and venture capitalist
Birthday: 11 October 1967
Birthplace: Frankfurt, West Germany
Nationality: United States, Germany, New Zealand
Birth Sign: Libra
Peter Thiel Career
Born in Frankfurt, Peter moved with his family to the United States as an infant after he spent a portion of his upbringing in Southern Africa. He studied philosophy at Stanford University and earned his J.D. from Stanford Law School.
After graduating from Stanford, Thiel clerked for Judge James Larry Edmondson of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Sullivan & Cromwell
He left the law firm after seven months, due to a lack of transcendental value in his work.
After leaving Sullivan & Cromwell, Peter took a job as a derivatives trader in currency options at Credit Suisse. He was also working as a speechwriter for former United States Secretary of Education William Bennett.
Thiel Capital Management
After returning to the Bay Area, Thiel noticed that the development of the internet and personal computer had launched the dot-com boom. With financial support from friends and family, he raised $1 million toward Thiel Capital Management. Early on, he lost money after investing $100,000 in his friend Luke Nosek’s unsuccessful web-based calendar project. His luck changed when Nosek’s friend Max Levchin introduced him to his cryptography-related company idea, which later became their first venture called Confinity in 1998 which would go on to create Paypal.
With Confinity, Thiel helped develop to bridge a gap in making online payments. At the time many online merchants lacked the necessary hardware to accept credit cards so shoppers had to pay with cash or check. Thiel wanted to create a digital wallet built for consumer convenience and security by encrypting data on digital devices. Thiel viewed PayPal’s mission as liberating people from the erosion of the value of their currencies due to inflation.
PayPal continued to grow through mergers with Elon Musk‘s online financial services company X.com, and with Pixo, a startup specializing in mobile commerce. PayPal went public on 15 February 2002 and was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion that year.
Thiel used $10 million of his proceeds to create Clarium Capital Management, a global macro hedge fund focusing on directional and liquid instruments in currencies, interest rates, commodities, and equities.
In 2003, Thiel successfully bet that the United States dollar would weaken. In 2005, Clarium saw a 57.1% return as Thiel predicted that the dollar would rally.
In May 2003, Thiel started Palantir Technologies, a big data analysis company which he started after realizing “the approaches that PayPal had used to fight fraud could be extended into other contexts, like fighting terrorism”. He saw Palantir as providing data mining services to government intelligence agencies that were maximally unintrusive and traceable.
Palantir’s first backer was the CIA and the company steadily grew. In 2022 the company is valued at $15 billion.
In 2004, Thiel made a $500,000 angel investment in Facebook for a 10.2% stake in the company and joined Facebook’s board. In 2012, Thiel sold almost all of his remaining stake for or $395.8 million, for a total of more than $1 billion.
In 2005, Thiel created Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital fund with other partners include Sean Parker, Ken Howery, and Luke Nosek.
In addition to Facebook, Thiel made early-stage investments in numerous startups, including Airbnb, Slide.com, LinkedIn, Friendster, Yammer, Yelp, Spotify, Powerset, SpaceX, Palantir Technologies, Asana, Big Think, Quora, Stripe, and AltSchool. In 2017, Founders Fund bought about $15–20 million worth of bitcoin.
In 2012, Peter launched Mithril Capital Management, named after the metal in The Lord of the Rings. Mithril Capital, a fund with $402 million, targets companies that are beyond the startup stage and ready to scale.
In 2015, Thiel joined Y Combinator as one of 10 part-time partners, but in 2017 it was reported that Y Combinator had severed its ties with Thiel.