One of the tech world’s most influential entrepreneurs and investors is saying goodbye to Silicon Valley and heading to Los Angeles. The often controversial figure will move his home and his investment firms in response to the larger political culture of the tech hub, which he views as increasingly intolerant to his conservative politics.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Thiel, one of the members of the PayPal mafia, has grown pessimistic over the tech business at large and is concerned regarding heightened government regulation of the industry. Sources suggest that he is considering resigning from the board of directors at Facebook as he battles with its Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and struggles to get past political differences with another board member. The tech industry legend has made over $1 billion on his $500,000 investment in the company in 2004.
Fifty-year-old Thiel was perhaps the most well-know backer of Donald Trump in Silicon Valley during the 2016 presidential race and later served as an adviser on his White House transition team. His libertarian-leaning ideology has clashed with many of his peers, including Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings.
“Silicon Valley is a one-party state,” said Mr. Thiel in a debate last month at Stanford University. “That’s when you get in trouble politically in our society, when you’re all in one side.”
The PayPal founder has been involved in some of the tech industry’s most powerful companies over the past four decades, including Yelp, LinkedIn and Quora. Last year, his Founders Fund also reportedly made a $15 to $20 million investment in bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Thiel has never been afraid to challenge Silicon Valley conventions, from his decision to back Elon Musk’s rocket startup in 2008 to investing in an institute that seeks to build ocean-based cities outside the reach of governments.
The WSJ suggests that in moving to more right-wing friendly L.A., Thiel could launch a conservative media outlet.
The investor will move Thiel Capital and Thiel Foundation, along with their 50 employees to L.A, while keeping Founders Fund and Mithril Capital in San Francisco. Over the past two years, he has quit the boards of Zenefits and Asana Inc., sold his stake in Twilio Inc. and ended his relationship with startup incubator Y Combinator.