Peter Thiel is a business mogul who has built companies worth billions of dollars. He is either a founder, shareholder, or investor of tech companies that include PayPal, FaceBook, Mithril Capital, Valar Ventures, Y Combinator, Palantir, and Founders Fund.
Thiel’s ventures have made him not just a popular person but also an extremely wealthy one. This puts him among the richest people in the world. Another aspect of his life that has caught media attention is his personal life. Asides from being gay, his coming out was not very conventional, even though he never really denied the facts.
Peter Thiel Started Out As An Ordinary Kid With Extraordinary Math Skills
Born on 11, October 1967 to Susanne and Klaus Thiel in the largest city in Germany, Frankfurt, Peter Andreas Thiel almost always seemed like a kid that would succeed in anything that had to do with numbers, be it business, computers, or science in general. This was not very surprising as his father worked as a chemical engineer.
When he was just a year old, his family moved across the Atlantic Ocean to Cleveland, Ohio, because of his father’s job, and from there, Peter’s childhood was further spent in different countries, including South Africa and Namibia. This led to him attending up to seven elementary schools before the family eventually settled down in California.
Interestingly, Peter Thiel who also played chess studied Philosophy when he went for his university education at Stanford University. During his time at Stanford, he created the newspaper The Stanford Review where he operated as the Editor-in-Chief until his graduation in 1989.
When Thiel was done at Stanford, he went on to their law school and in 1992, graduated with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. It was during his time at Stanford that Thiel decided to apply a certain principle of competitiveness to all aspects of his life. He worked for a judge right after law school, then worked for the law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell in New York for seven months before he quit. He went on to work in a few other capacities around the U.S for a while before returning to California in the late 90s.
His First Business Failed But The Second – PayPal, Was The Charm
Deep into the 1990s, the internet was growing fast and Thiel noticed that it was a viable market to invest in. The first business he put his money in, was Luke Nosek’s web-based calendar project in which he injected $100,000. Unfortunately, this did not work and he lost his money.
However, his second attempt became a success as it gave birth to one of the best innovations that came out of the internet boom of the late 90s, the online payment processor PayPal. He was first drawn to the idea of PayPal by Max Levchin and Luke Nosek. The first idea of the company when it started as Confinity in 1998 was to come up with security software for handheld devices but before long, the dream changed into creating a virtual wallet.
PayPal was created to give consumers ease of payment when it came to purchasing goods or services on the internet. Peter Thiel and his other co-founders had noticed that people either had mail checks or cash for an online transaction which sometimes dissuaded them from continuing the purchase. The company was launched in 1999 and by October of 2002, it was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion but his stake was $55 million.
He Became Facebook’s First Outside Investor
When Facebook was starting out, Peter Thiel gave the company $500,000 in investments and became a board member. His financial investment helped the company grow exponentially. In the same manner, he has yielded bountifully from this investment over the years, yielding more than a billion dollars from the gradual sale of his shares.
Initially, he invested in Facebook to get over 10 percent of the company as a convertible note once it matured to 1.5 million users. After the company missed the repayment date which was set as 2004, Thiel allowed for it to be converted into equity. His shares of Facebook stock as of 2017 was said to be 53,602, which he indirectly owned, while his holdings have been placed at over $9.7 million the following year.
By 2020, he had already sold most of his shares with Facebook, with less than 10,000 remaining. From the earlier shares he has sold, the investor made $640 million in 2012, $400 million later in the same year, and then in 2018, he smiled to the bank with $4 million.
Other Tech Companies The Venture Capitalist Is A Part Of
Other businesses he has created or helped create are Founders Fund, which is made to provide funding for businesses that are just starting up, Mithril Capital, Valar Ventures, Y Combinator, and Palantir. All of these companies serve very different functions and cater to different groups of people. Here are some of the well-known companies:
In 2003, Peter Thiel started yet another company, Palantir Technologies, which follows the idea of using the technology of PayPal’s fraud system to fight terrorism. Today, the company has infrastructures that serve to manage, as well as secure large amounts of data among other things.
As the chairman of Palantir and one of its first founders, Thiel was the largest shareholder of the company as of December 2014. At around that time, the company was valued at $15 billion.
At the moment, he has 12% of Palantir, which has a value of $2.4 billion. Others that join the table as founders of the firm are Alex Karp, who is the CEO, Nathan Gettings, Joe Lonsdale, and Stephen Cohen.
One of the biggest companies he founded is a venture capital firm known as Founders Fund which now has $2 billion in capital and has raised $3.45 billion since it started in 2005. Sean Parker, Ken Howery, and Luke Nosek join him as partners in this business.
Since its inception, this Silicon Valley venture has put in money on different firms and companies spanning from health, mobile technology, finance, and almost everything else. More so, it invests across geography. Some of the businesses that it has invested in are SpaceX, Spotify, Facebook, Stripe, Quora, Nanotronics Imaging, Rypple, and Bitcoin.
Peter Thiel Was Dragged Out Of The Closet By Gawker
Prior to December 2007, the personal life of Peter Thiel and his sexuality were strictly matters that were private to him. This changed when Gawker made a report titled “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.”
Although not all felt it was right to publicly out Theil that way, the blog insisted he had already come out for his close friends in the past. The report did not sit well with Thiel who was said to have started seeing Gawker as a bully. He would go on to liken them to a terrorist organization, Al Quaeda, in 2009.
In the report which was written by Owen Thomas, the blog revealed that the PayPal co-founder’s sexuality might be one of the reasons why he was opposed to conventional ways of doing things. One thing that the post made clear of was that it was not against his chosen lifestyle, but it looked at the discrimination gays in the tech environment faced.
Fast-forward to 2012 in a totally different event, Gawker made a report detailing an affair Hulk Hogan had with Heather Clem who was the wife of his friend, Bubba the Love Sponge. Gawker accompanied the post with a video of the amorous affair. Hogan’s lawyer demanded that Gawker took off the video as the former wrestler was recorded without his consent, but the blog refused, leading to a lawsuit that would end up swallowing Gawker and pushing it to bankruptcy after a settlement of $31 million was paid to Hogan.
It was later revealed that the entire event was bankrolled by Peter who had a thing against the publishers. He was said to have spent as high as $10 million to finally bury Gawker.
Meet His Husband, Matt Danzeisen
In 2017, at Peter Thiel’s 50th birthday party, he announced that he would be getting married to his partner Matt Danzeisen. When guests were first invited, they thought it was only for the birthday of the PayPal co-founder, but ended up getting a surprise wedding as the two lovers exchanged their vows right there.
Obviously, Danzeisen is not as famous as his husband, but it is known that he was born in the United States, which is also where he was brought up. Unfortunately, most other information about him have remained well away from the reach of the public.
Thiel keeps his personal life very private and the same goes for Danzeisen. As a result of this, it is not known how they met each other or how long they had been dating before their engagement. It is however known that Danzeisen currently works at Thiel Capital as a portfolio manager.
Although they maintain a very private life, it is known that the two have a daughter.