Peter Thiel at the GOP convention: Reaction from tech and beyond

Silicon Valley icon Peter Thiel introduced himself to the rest of America Thursday night.

“I’m proud to be gay, I am proud to be Republican, but most of all I’m proud to be an American,” the billionaire entrepreneur and investor — of PayPal, Palantir and Facebook fame, among other things — said to a standing ovation at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Thiel, a longtime libertarian and supporter of other Republican politicians, hadn’t said much publicly since the revelation in May that he would be a California delegate for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. But during his speech Thursday, he enthusiastically threw his support behind Trump, echoing the candidate’s disdain for the U.S. government and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Thiel wasn’t the first gay person to speak at the RNC — former Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona reportedly was the first to do that in 2000 — but he was the first to declare that he’s proud to be gay. After being applauded by the crowd, though, he pushed back against part of the Republican platform.

“Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom,” he said. “This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?”

He added: “I don’t pretend to agree with every plank in our party’s platform. But fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline.”

But Thiel did hew to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” theme. Thiel talked about how good things used to be and how broken he believes they are now.

“It’s hard to remember this, but our government was once high tech, too,” Thiel said. “When I moved to Cleveland, defense research was laying the foundations for the Internet. The Apollo program was just about to put a man on the moon, and it was Neil Armstrong, from right here in Ohio. The future felt limitless.” Now, he said, “it would be kind to say the government’s software works poorly, because much of the time it doesn’t even work at all.”

Thiel also said he agreed with Trump that “it’s time to end the era of stupid wars and rebuild our country.”

Here’s some Twitter reaction from the tech industry and beyond.

Venture capitalist and former Googler Hunter Walk pointed to the open letter the tech industry published last week, which warned that Trump wouldn’t be good for the country or for innovation:

Thiel mentioned during his speech that he’s a German immigrant who came to the United States at the age of 1. Walk had a comment about that.

Marc Andressen, venture capitalist/Silicon Valley sage/prolific tweeter, also weighed in:

Andreessen also retweeted the following:

But Thiel had some support from the tech industry, including this entrepreneur.

Meanwhile, PayPal, which Thiel co-founded in 1998, may be affected by its co-founder’s support of Trump.

Photo: Peter Thiel delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)


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    Creepy clammy Peter. He doesn’t resonate with most forward thinking entrepreneurs.

  • advancedatheist

    The people who don’t understand Thiel’s endorsement of Trump need to look at it as an identitarian issue. Germans like Thiel’s and Trump’s extended families, along with Scots like Trump’s mother, have a long history of valuing the United States as a second home and a refuge from the Old World. German Americans’ proprietary orientation towards this country predisposes them to treat it as an asset that needs good management to maintain its value. These two German American billionaires therefore have teamed up to replace the country’s current bad managers with better ones.