Peter Thiel: I’m leaving ‘totalitarian’ Silicon Valley

By Art Moore


Explaining why he is moving his influential investment firm from the Silicon Valley, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel says it’s one thing for a culture to be “quite liberal” and another for it to be “totalitarian.”

Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal and an early Facebook investor, was virtually alone among his colleagues as one of President Trump’s biggest supporters in 2016.

Peter Thiel speaks at the Republican National Convention July 21, 2016
Peter Thiel speaks at the Republican National Convention July 21, 2016

He acknowledged in an interview Friday with the Fox Business Network that he “got heat” for his stance.

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Thiel, who spoke during prime time at the Republican National Convention in 2016, said that while he doesn’t mind being in a place “where most people are liberal or most people have views different from my own,” it’s
“something different when it goes from a large majority having one way to it being almost unanimous … because things are never unanimous.”

“When people are unanimously on one side, that tells me not that they’ve all figured out the truth but that they are in sort of a totalitarian place, that they are in a one-party state where they are not allowed to have dissenting views,” Thiel told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo.

Thiel said that while Silicon Valley has been the motor of innovation for the past 20 years, he sees potential in Los Angeles.

“It’s a more diversified economy, and I think it has much less of a sense of everyone being on top of one another thinking the same way in one place,” he said.

Silicon Valley’s control over political speech has become an issue ahead of the midterm elections.

British historian Niall Ferguson warned in an interview that the banning and curbing of conservative websites by Facebook, Google and Twitter will spell election disaster for Republicans, who currently hold the majority in both houses of Congress.

“The midterms are going to be worse, a lot worse. Because never again will the network platforms in Silicon Valley allow them to use them as Donald Trump’s campaign used them in 2016,” he said in an interview with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he is a senior fellow.

Breitbart reported in February that engagement on Trump’s Facebook posts had dropped by about 45 percent since the platform introduced a new newsfeed algorithm that gives greater emphasis to posts from “friends, family and groups” and less to “businesses, brands and media.” The change was followed by a promise to promote what Facebook calls “broadly trusted” news sources.

Ferguson said the change was a direct response to the role that Facebook played in Trump’s election.

“The sound of heads exploding on November the 9th of 2016 was deafening in California,” he said. “They couldn’t believe that Facebook advertising had been so vital to Trump’s success. Which it was. I don’t think he would have become president without Facebook.”

Ferguson said that as people “think more and more about this they will I think begin to grasp the power of the platforms.”

In January, two former Google employees filed a class-action suit for wrongful termination, accusing the tech giant of “alienating conservatives” at its Silicon Valley headquarters.

The complaint charges Google discriminated against them and other employees for their political views and for being white males.

It also provides evidence that Google managers developed “blacklists” of conservative employees with whom they wouldn’t work on any project.


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