Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is giving up his spot on the board of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, the social media giant announced this week.
Thiel has made a fortune as a venture capitalist investing in Silicon Valley startups. He was the first outside investor to back Facebook in 2004 and has served on the tech giant’s board since 2005. His departure from the board comes as he has ramped up involvement in politics ahead of the 2022 midterms, backing a number of Republican candidates.
Thiel was the most prominent conservative voice on Facebook’s board and is one of the most prominent conservative voices in Silicon Valley. The wealthy tech investor has often championed free speech and fought against censorship on tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. His departure from Facebook’s board comes as he seeks to put his energy and wealth instead into backing select GOP politicians. As The New York Times reports:
Mr. Thiel, 54, wants to focus on influencing November’s midterm elections, said a person with knowledge of Mr. Thiel’s thinking who declined to be identified. Mr. Thiel sees the midterms as crucial to changing the direction of the country, this person said, and he is backing candidates who support the agenda of former president Donald J. Trump.
Over the last year, Mr. Thiel, who has a net worth estimated at $2.6 billion by Forbes, has become one of the Republican’s Party’s largest donors. He gave $10 million each last year to the campaigns of two protégés, Blake Masters, who is running for a Senate seat in Arizona, and J.D. Vance, who is running for Senate in Ohio.
In total, Thiel is backing four Senate candidates and 12 House candidates ahead of the 2022 election. Thiel’s official departure from the board is expected to come after Meta’s annual shareholder meeting later this year.
Meta announced Thiel’s departure in a statement. “Peter has been a valuable member of our board and I’m deeply grateful for everything he has done for our company – from believing in us when few others would, to teaching me so many lessons about business, economics, and the world,” Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Peter is truly an original thinker who you can bring your hardest problems and get unique suggestions. He has served on our board for almost two decades, and we’ve always known that at some point he would devote his time to other interests. I’m grateful he’s served on our board for as long as he has, and I wish him the best in his journey ahead.”
Thiel said: “It has been a privilege to work with one of the great entrepreneurs of our time. Mark Zuckerberg’s intelligence, energy, and conscientiousness are tremendous. His talents will serve Meta well as he leads the company into a new era.”
Thiel has also reportedly been investing in tech startups committed to free speech and free expression. Thiel and fellow investor J.D. Vance, who Thiel is backing in Vance’s Ohio race for U.S. Senate, reportedly put money into the video platform Rumble. As The Daily Wire reported at the time:
Venture capitalists Peter Thiel and J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” are reportedly investing in Rumble, an alternative to YouTube that is popular among conservatives.
As The Wall Street Journal reported, Narya Capital is the Cincinnati-based venture capital fund leading the investment. Narya was co-founded by Vance and Colin Greenspon, and by Thiel, who is also a Narya investor, “in a personal capacity.”
The amount of money in the deal was not shared, but a source familiar with the deal told the Journal that the investment was significant. Others close to the matter said it values Rumble at about $500 million.