Goldberg: Why is Peter Thiel, a GOP megadonor, buying a Maltese passport?
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, venture capitalist and tech evangelist, was born in New York City. In the early 2000s, with the U.S. stock market at its lowest point, he had just over $300,000 in his savings account and was working part-time for an environmental group. His parents were of German descent. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003. But Thiel’s career has been a high-profile one. The son of wealthy parents who are both self-described libertarians, he began his business career as an entrepreneur. In 2003, he launched an online money transfer business. Three years later, Thiel’s company Paypal launched the popular “pay with Paypal” money transfer service. In 2009, Thiel co-founded Palantir, a company that builds “big data analytics solutions” that can enable “big data to solve big problems.” (There was a brief period during which Thiel was associated with LinkedIn, co-owning stock in the company, and it was suggested in 2015 that this might be the start of a Thiel company, but it has since dissolved.)
The year 2016 was shaping up for Thiel to be one of the most interesting of his life. The same year, Thiel spent time “working as an angel investor to make a small fortune investing in technology companies.” He started one of his own companies, Planetary Resources, a company founded to “focus on Mars exploration,” and sold its shares to Microsoft for $1.4 billion in cash and stock. In 2019, he began funding a new company, The Information, focused on “exploring the next generation of disruptive technologies.” The Information announced in late February that it had raised $12 million worth of venture capital, including $10 million from Peter Thiel.
For Thiel, what’s exciting is “all kinds of things going on,” he told me for an interview on March 26, 2019. It’s not just the space he’s interested in, but the “next level of technological disruptions,” he added. Thiel is particularly excited about the “next level of technological disruption around artificial intelligence and robotics.” Thiel’s new company is called One Laptop Per Child