Quoted: on Peter Thiel’s support for Donald Trump

“Every time I read [of Peter Thiel’s support for Donald Trump], I typically check the calendar because I’m not completely sure it’s not April 1. It wouldn’t surprise me if the underlying reality of his choice were the sheer contrariness of what he is doing.”

Max Levchin, Thiel’s friend and PayPal co-founder, at a June conference. (Levchin, now the CEO of startup Affirm, had a “giggling fit” before making these comments, according to Bloomberg.)

Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and Palantir and a board member of Facebook, is scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention tonight — something that surely will get Silicon Valley all atwitter, probably on Twitter.

When news came out in May that Thiel was going to be a California delegate for Donald Trump, he became the first high-profile tech figure to be associated with the now-official GOP presidential nominee — and nobody of his stature has raised their hand since.

Thiel is a vocal libertarian and has made donations to Republican politicians, including Ted Cruz (who spoke at the RNC Wednesday night). In a 2014 interview with the Mercury News, Thiel shared some of his thoughts on politics.

“There’s this sense of stagnation in this country,” he said. “The younger generation is expected to do worse than their parents. People feel that they are not progressing in their careers, their salaries are stuck and there is a sense that the future is going to be worse than the present. So the question is how do we get out of that. And it would be nice if our politicians thought about that more.”

That sounds like the dissatisfaction that Trump has tapped into in this country. But this presidential campaign has been nasty and divisive, especially given Trump’s derogatory statements about immigrants, Muslims, women and more.

So why would Thiel support Trump? In the only public statement he has released so far since confirming that he’d be a Trump delegate, Thiel said last week: “Many people are uncertain in this election year, but most Americans agree that our country is on the wrong track. I don’t think we can fix our problems unless we can talk about them frankly.” His statement came as a big group of tech executives and others signed an open letter warning that a Trump presidency would be “a disaster for innovation.”

Recode reports that some of Thiel’s friends, including another member of the PayPal Mafia, Reid Hoffman, have tried to “pull him off the Trump train.”

But that train has left the station. Tonight, Thiel is expected to say he’s proud to be gay, according to BuzzFeed — which will be unusual for the GOP convention — and talk about “why Donald Trump is better for America over Hillary Clinton because of Trump’s anti-war stance and Trump’s economic credentials.”


Photo: Billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel. (Founders Fund)


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  • menlodesign

    This is not an article it is an editorial and should be identified as such.

    Many people in SV are going to vote for Trump because his message appeals to deep feelings about the state of affairs. They may not speak up about it.

    The alternate choice is a criminal who exposed state secrets in a callous and reckless way. If tech companies had lost designs and intellectual property due to a reckless employee they would not hesitate to take action. But they give a pass to a person who put not just the lives of operatives at risk but the survival of our entire nation at risk.

    The alternative to Trump is a predatory animal with a voracious appetite for your money to buy votes. Voting for her would only validate her history of prostitution in office to the highest bidder for self-aggrandizement. Maybe the tech executives that support her see themselves in her. Maybe they need validation of their own hypocrisy. She accepts money from Saudi Arabia in exchange for favors and Apple does big business there even though they suppress women and gays. Evil needs validation to persist.