The alarming rise of Peter Thiel, tech mogul and political provocateur

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These steps of the cross led Thiel to Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s, hot to quit the great law and bet on the young Randian. Übermenschen. An early bet on a coder named Max Levchin made big. The two designed PayPal, the company Thiel is famous for, which has supercharged his antipathies with capital. Thiel, who had published a book called “The Myth of Diversity,” “capitalized on his aversion to multiculturalism,” writes Chafkin. “Besides youth, the other defining quality of PayPal was its white masculinity.”

In 2000, PayPal partnered with Elon Musk. “Peter thinks Musk is an impostor and a swagger,” a source told Chafkin. “Musk thinks Peter is a sociopath.” According to Chafkin, Thiel remained cool during the dot-com crash that year, as PayPal escaped market dominance. The company rebounded with a growth strategy known as “blitzscaling” as well as the use of extremely nasty tactics. “While [Steve] Jobs saw business as a form of cultural expression, even art, ”writes Chafkin,“ for Thiel and his peers, it was a mode of transgression, even activism ”.

When PayPal went public, Thiel pulled out tens of millions and turned to full-time investing. With various backgrounds, he sought out more entrepreneurial twerps, and in the mid-2000s he hung on to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. He also set up a hedge fund called Clarium, where, according to Chafkin, Thiel employees presented themselves as intellectuals and savored the spirit of VDARE, an anti-immigration website that regularly posted white nationalists. Hoping to make death less inevitable, at least for himself, Thiel also began dating the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, which has regularly frozen the corpses of affluent narcissists in liquid nitrogen since 1976.

Thiel continued to invest in Tesla, telling Musk (according to Musk) that he had not “fully embraced the issue of climate change.” But he gave Zuckerberg a loan for Facebook, which allowed him to intermittently keep a leash on the young founder. After September 11, Chafkin reports, Thiel also panicked about “the threat posed by Islamic terrorism – and Islam itself.” Libertarianism has abandoned it; he created Palantir, a data analytics surveillance technology company designed, in essence, to root out terrorists. The CIA used it, the NYPD used it, and Thiel became an entrepreneur with a great government. In 2006, his Clarium had $ 2 billion under management.

Around this time, the crafty Nick Denton of the Gawker gossip empire noticed what Chafkin calls “Thiel’s extremist politics and ethically questionable business practices.” Gawker’s Valleywag site dragged Thiel, whose homosexuality was an open secret, suggesting he was being suppressed. This enraged Thiel, who in 2008 seemed to have lost him, by issuing a flowery religious letter to investors in Clarium warning them of the impending apocalypse and urging them to save their immortal souls and “accumulate treasures in heaven, in the sky. Eternal City of God ”.

The planet avoided the apocalypse, as it tends to do, but that year the financial crash ruined the economy. Several large investors withdrew from Thiel’s fund. In Chafkin’s account, Thiel inexplicably criticized Denton for scaring away the ultraconservatives by unmasking him. He decided to bankrupt Denton, and in 2016, by secretly funding a nuisance lawsuit designed to bankrupt Gawker, he did so.


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