Peter Thiel, billionaire founder of PayPal, is accused of starting a massive wave of withdrawals from Silicon Valley Bank that has destabilized a part of the global banking system.
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Few figures are more controversial and outlier than Peter Thiel in Silicon Valley. He has declared himself an enemy bigtech but struck gold after selling Facebook shares as the first outside investor in 2004. He made the case for the future of cryptocurrencies as a replacement for traditional money at a conference in Miami shortly after his equity fund sold all of its investments in those assets. And now many blame him for having unleashed the banking panic that precipitated the implosion of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) that today has a part of the world banking system in check.
They are not the only feats on his log sheet. In reality, nothing in his career is wasted. This 55-year-old German immigrant, born in Frankfurt in October 1967, He is the founder of two technological giants such as PayPal and Palantir, with a personal fortune of over 8,000 million dollars, according to Bloomberg. He’s gay, openly conservative -donated millions of dollars to Donald Trump’s campaign- and he is fully involved in artificial intelligence, the prolongation of life and seasteading, the illusion of creating homes in the sea outside of any government or country. “I think that if there was competition in the government, we would do much better,” he says.
At only 6 years old he began to play chess and over time he ended up becoming one of the best players in the United States. He also won a California math contest at the state level before going to Stanford to study philosophy, where he graduated in Law and obtained his doctorate in 1992.
He might as well have dedicated his life to the law, but after seven months and three days of tedium and irrelevance working for a financial firm in New York, he jumped straight into the world of stockbrokers. Upon his return to California, he began to explore investment ideas and with a million dollars of borrowed capital he was testing the ground. He ended up opting for digital payments. In 1998 he founded PayPal with Max Levchin and Luke Nosek. Today the firm is worth $84 billion. Thiel sold it four years later to eBay for $1.5 billion before embarking on his next project.
It did not go badly with the operation of Facebook either. He invested half a million dollars for 10.2% of the company founded by Mark Zuckerberg and sold his part in 2012 for more than 1,000 million dollars. Now he captains one of the most relevant investment funds in Silicon Valley, the Founders Fund. Sources close to the company have indicated that all the money was withdrawn from the SVB fund on Thursday morning, hours before the collapse of the bank on which hundreds of thousands of people depend in the San Francisco Bay area. and a mountain of startups.
Even so, Thiel has assured that he still had 50 million of his own money when the crisis of the bank occurred, as he explained to the Financial Times. He said he didn’t do it because he didn’t think the bank would fail. His account, with less than 1% of his personal fortune, was frozen when the FDIC came to control the entity. The intervention of the Federal Reserve on Sunday gave him back access to his funds.
According to people close to the bank, Thiel’s fund was one of the first to warn its clients of the risk SVB had become, which may have sparked the panic and massive withdrawal of funds. In just 24 hours, 40,000 million dollars were withdrawn from the entity. The accusations did not wait. “There should be more scrutiny on Peter Thiel and Bill Ackman (another billionaire investor) for yelling fire at a crowded theater on this SVB collapse,” CNBC journalist Sara Eisen wrote on Twitter.
Critics argue that the chaos could have been avoided if the bank had been given more leeway to act and pull itself out of the hole. The hasty withdrawal of funds was the final blow to the institution. But Thiel seems to be above good and evil at this point. The power of him in Silicon Valley is enormous. His investment fund has helped build giants like Airbnb, Spotify, Yelp, Yammer, Linkedin or Palantir itself, another company named in honor of his fascination with lord of the rings the JRR Tolkien saga. SVB’s stumble does not seem to alter its roadmap in the slightest or disturb its already dubious reputation.
In addition to his dream of forming his own companies in the middle of the sea, where there were no other regulations than his own and those of his partners, there is the idea of prolonging life expectancy beyond what is humanly foreseeable with the use of technology and scientific advances. Cryopreservation has been targeted with the aim that it can be revived by existing technology in the future. A character to study carefully.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism