Peter Thiel – An Animated Biography

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Peter Thiel – The Don of The Paypal Mafia

Peter Thiel is a German-American entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal with Max Levchin and Elon Musk, and is currently said to have a net worth of around $2.2 billion

Thiel was born to German parents Klaus Thiel, a chemical engineer, and Susanne Thiel, in Frankfurt , West Germany.
Peter moved to the United States with his parents when he was one year old, and was raised in Foster City, California
In his teens, he was a US-rated Chess Master and one of the highest ranked under-21 players in the country.
Thiel studied 20th-century philosophy as an undergraduate at Stanford University. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Stanford in 1989 and acquired a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1992

Early career
In his early career Thiel was a Judges Clerk for a year after his graduation from Stanford Law School, and from 1993 to 1996, traded derivatives for the Credit Suisse Group
In 1998, Thiel co-founded PayPal with Max Levchin. The company later merged with, then headed by Elon Musk. PayPal went public on February 15, 2002, and was sold to eBay for $1 and a half billion later that year.
Thiel’s 3.7 percent stake in PayPal was worth approximately $55 million at the time of the acquisition.
According to Eric Jackson’s account of PayPal in his book The PayPal Wars, Thiel viewed PayPal’s mission as liberating people throughout the world from the erosion of the value of their currencies due to inflation.
Thiel’s approach to investing became the subject of a chapter in Steve Drobny’s book, Inside the House of Money. After Thiel had successfully bet that the U.S. dollar would weaken in 2003, and gained significant returns betting that the dollar and energy shares would be stronger 2005.

In his book The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick outlines the story of how Thiel came to make his investment:
Former Napster cofounder Sean Parker, who was President” of Facebook, was seeking investors.
First Parker approached LinkedIN’s Reid Hoffman, and although Hoffman liked Facebook he declined to be the lead investor because of a conflict of interest with his duties as the LinkedIn CEO.
He told Parker to contact Peter Thiel, whom he knew from their PayPal days.
Thiel met Parker and Mark Zuckerberg
Thiel and Zuckerberg got along well and In August 2004, Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook and made a half a million angel investment in return for 10.2% of the company and a place on Facebook’s board.
In September 2010, Thiel, sold 16.8 million shares in Facebook for $638 million and In August 2012 sold almost all of his remaining stake for more than $1 billion
He still retained 5 million shares and a seat on the board of directors.

The Paypal Mafia
In addition to Facebook, Thiel has made investments in numerous start-ups such as Slide, LinkedIn, Yelp,, and Yammer which were all founded by Thiel’s former colleagues at PayPal:
Slide by Levchin,
Linkedin by Reid Hoffman,
Yelp by Jeremy Stoppelman, and Yammer by David Sacks.

Fortune magazine reports that the so called PayPal mafia have founded or invested in dozens of start-ups with an aggregate value of around $30 billion.

In his quest for eternal life, or at least to slow down the aging process, Thiel donated $3 and a half million to foster anti-aging research through the Methuselah Mouse Prize foundation.
He also supports the work of the SENS Research Foundation that is working to achieve the reversal of biological aging, and the work of anti-aging researcher Cynthia Kenyon.
Thiel also registered to be cryonically suspended, meaning that he would be subject to low-temperature preservation when he dies in the hope that he might be successfully revived by future medical technology.

In spring 2012 Thiel taught Stanford class on Startups and the course-notes that were taken by student Blake Masters, led to a book titled Zero to One, by Thiel and Masters, which was released September 2014.
Thiel is also the co-author, with David O. Sacks of the 1995 book
The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford

Thiel recently funded wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuite against Gawker and Hogan received $140 million in a verdict against the news company.
Thiel had an axe to grind after he was publicly outed by Gawker as being Gay, but was basically making a statement in defense of other people hurt by the invasion of their privacy, whereas Hogan sued after Gawker released a sex tape of his.
Users of the social network Twitter started the hashtag #ThanksPeter in support of him standing up against Gawker which ultimately caused the company’s Bankruptcy.

Love him or hate him, he definitely deserves the title of The Don of the Paypal Mafia

Thanks for watching, here are the links to the books mentioned in this video.

Further Reading

The PayPal Wars by Eric Jackson –

Inside the House of Money by Steve Drobny –

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick –

Zero to One by Thiel and Masters –

The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford by David O Sacks –