• 1967 October 11
    (b.) - ?


A German-born American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and hedge fund manager, he is a co-founder of PayPal with Max Levchin, and later, Elon Musk, and served as its CEO. He also cofounded Palantir, of which he is presently Chairman. Palantir Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA, with offices in McLean, Virginia, New York City, Santa Monica, London, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Wellington, New Zealand, and Canberra, Australia is a software company that produces the Palantir Gotham and Palantir Metropolis platforms. He currently serves as President of Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund with under $700 million in assets under management; a managing partner in Founders Fund, a $275 million venture capital fund that he launched with Ken Howery and Luke Nosek in 2005; and co-founder and investment committee chair of Mithril Capital Management. He was the first outside investor in Facebook, the popular social-networking site, with a 10.2% stake acquired in 2004 for $500,000, and sits on the company's Board of Directors. He was ranked #293 on the Forbes 400 in 2011, with a net worth of $1.5 billion as of March 2012. He lives in San Francisco, California. Born to German parents in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, he moved to the United States with his parents when he was a toddler, and was raised in Foster City, California. He was a US-rated Chess Master and one of the highest ranked under-21 players in the country. He studied 20th-Century Philosophy as an undergraduate at Stanford University. He received his B.A. degree in Philosophy from Stanford in 1989 and acquired a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1992. He formed friendships with other students at Stanford, which include Keith Rabois, David O. Sacks, and Reid Hoffman. Some of these friends later took up jobs at PayPal and became part of the PayPal Mafia. He clerked for Judge J.L. Edmondson of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. From 1993 to 1996, he traded derivatives for Credit Suisse Group. He founded Thiel Capital Management, a multi-strategy fund, in 1996. In 1998 he co-founded PayPal, an online payments system, with Max Levchin. The company later merged with X.com; then headed by Elon Musk. PayPal went public on February 15, 2002, and was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion later that year. His 3.7 percent stake in PayPal was worth approximately $55 million at the time of the acquisition. He viewed PayPal's mission as liberating people throughout the world from the erosion of the value of their currencies due to inflation according to Eric Jackson's account of PayPal in his book The PayPal Wars. In August 2004, he made a $500,000 angel investment in the social network Facebook for 10.2% of the company and joined Facebook's Board. This was the first outside investment in Facebook, and he went on to be portrayed in The Social Network (2010) by actor Wallace Langham. As a Board member, he was not actively involved in Facebook's day-to-day decision making. He did provide help with timing the various rounds of funding. Zuckerberg credited him with helping him time Facebook's 2007 Series D to close before the 2007-2010 financial crisis. In September 2010, he, while expressing skepticism about the potential for growth in the consumer Internet sector, argued that relative to other Internet companies, Facebook (which then had a secondary market valuation of $30 billion) was comparatively undervalued. Facebook's IPO was in May 2012, with a market cap of nearly $100 billion ($38 a share), at which time he sold 16.8 million shares for $638 million. In August 2012, immediately upon the conclusion of the early investor lock out period, he sold almost all of his remaining stake for between $19.27 and $20.69 per share, or $395.8 million, for a total of more than $1 billion. He still retained 5 million shares and a seat on the Board of Directors. In 2005 he created Founders Fund, a San Francisco based venture capital fund. Other partners in the fund include Sean Parker, Ken Howery, and Luke Nosek. In addition to Facebook, he has made early-stage investments in numerous startups (personally or through his venture capital fund), including Booktrack, Slide, LinkedIn, Friendster, Rapleaf, Geni.com, Yammer, Yelp, Inc., Powerset, Practice Fusion, MetaMed, Vator, Palantir Technologies, IronPort, Votizen, Asana, Big Think, Caplinked, Quora, Rypple, Stripe, and Legendary Entertainment. Slide, LinkedIn, Geni.com, and Yammer were founded by his former colleagues at PayPal: Slide by Levchin; Linkedin by Reid Hoffman; Yelp by Jeremy Stoppelman; Geni.com, Yammer by David Sacks; and Xero by Rod Drury. Fortune magazine reports that PayPal alumni have founded or invested in dozens of startups with an aggregate value of around $30 billion. In Silicon Valley circles, he is colloquially referred to as the "Don of the PayPal Mafia", as noted in the Fortune magazine article. His views on management are highly regarded, especially his famous observation that start-up success is highly correlated with low CEO pay. He founded Palantir Technologies funded by the CIA's venture capital arm In-Q-Tel. In February 2013, he received a TechCrunch Crunchie Award for Venture Capitalist of the year. In June 2012, he launched Mithril, a late-stage investment fund with $402 million at the time of launch, intended for companies that were at the cusp between being private and going public. Other partners in the fund include Jim O'Neill, co-founder of the Thiel Fellowship, and Ajay Royan, a former Managing Director at Clarium Capital. He carries out most of his philanthropic activities through a nonprofit foundation he created called the Thiel Foundation. He concentrates the bulk of his philanthropic efforts on what he sees as potential breakthrough technologies. In November 2010, he organized a Breakthrough Philanthropy conference that showcased eight nonprofits that he believed were working on radical new ideas in technology, government, and human affairs. A similar conference was organized in December 2011 with the name "Fast Forward". He believes in the importance and desirability of a technological singularity. In February 2006, he provided $100,000 of matching funds to back the Singularity Challenge donation drive of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (then known as the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence). Additionally, he joined the Institute's Advisory Board and participated in the May 2006 Singularity Summit at Stanford as well as at the 2011 Summit held in New York City. He occasionally teaches classes at Stanford University, his alma mater . For instance, in the spring of 2012, he taught a class, CS183, on start-ups.
  • Date of Birth:

    1967 October 11
  • Gender:

  • Noted For:

    Co-founder of PayPal, Inc.
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