Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel just gave a phenomenal speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC) and endorsed GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. But who is this guy? Search term uses of phrases like “Peter Thiel Wiki,” “Who is Peter Thiel,” and “Peter Thiel net worth” have shot through the roof.
To make it simple for our readers, here are seven things you need to know about Peter Thiel:
1. Peter Thiel Is a Co-Founder of PayPal
If you conduct transactions on the Internet, you will likely have heard of Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL), the popular online payment system. Peter Thiel co-founded this company with Max Levchin, Luke Nosek, and Ken Howery back in 1998. At first, it was a security software company named Confinity. The actual transaction service was later developed and launched in 1999. Eventually, Confinity merged with Elon Musk’s online banking company, X.com, in 2000 to create Paypal. Two years late, Paypal went public.
2. Peter Thiel Is the First Outside Investor of Facebook
Peter Thiel did not walk away from the tech world after cashing out on his Paypal stake, though. Next, he invested in something much bigger.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) now commands more than $300 billion in market cap, but 12 years ago, it was just a startup—albeit one with great potential. At that time (in 2004), Peter Thiel made a $500,000 angel investment in the social network for a 10.2% stake. When Facebook stock went public, Peter Thiel sold some of his shares in the company for a whopping $640 million. (Source: “Facebook’s First Big Investor, Peter Thiel, Cashes Out,” CNN, August 20, 2012.)
3. Peter Thiel Also Invested in Airbnb, Spotify, and Lyft
After seeing such enormous success with Paypal and Facebook, Peter Thiel was not done yet. The billionaire investor also made early bets on Spotify, Airbnb, SpaceX, Lyft, and Palantir Technologies. (Source: “The Strange Politics of Peter Thiel, Trump’s Most Unlikely Supporter,” Bloomberg, July 21, 2016.)
4. Peter Thiel Has a Law Degree
With his involvement in so many tech companies, you might think that he started out as an engineer or computer scientist, but that’s not really the case. Peter Thiel studied 20th-century philosophy as an undergraduate at Stanford University. In 1989, he received his BA in Philosophy from Stanford. He then continued his studies at Stanford Law School, where he received a JD in 1992.
5. Peter Thiel Worked as a Law Clerk
While many Silicon Valley legends dropped out of school to start their own shops, Peter Thiel’s first job was less exciting. After graduating from Stanford Law School, he clerked for Judge J. L. Edmondson of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit for one year. After that, he worked as a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse Group where he made enough money to build what is now Paypal. (Source: “Who Is Peter Thiel?,” Business Insider, May 25, 2016.)
6. Peter Thiel Is a Libertarian
Peter Thiel is a Libertarian and has been one since his university days. He said that when he was studying philosophy in the late 1980s, he was naturally “drawn to the give-and-take of debate and the desire to bring about freedom through political means.” He started a student newspaper, The Stanford Review, which has become the university’s main conservative/libertarian newspaper. (Source: “The Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009.)
7. Peter Thiel Just Made History at the GOP Convention
Peter Thiel is not the first gay republican to speak at a GOP convention, but he is the first one to say that he’s proud to be gay. At the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, he said “I am proud to be gay, I am proud to be a Republican, but most of all I am proud to be an American.” The crowd cheered. (Source: “Peter Theil Gives Full-Throated Endorsement of Donald Trump,” Fortune, July 21, 2016.)
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