Conservative businessman Peter Thiel officially stepped down from Facebook parent company Meta’s board of directors on Wednesday.
Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and Palantir, is one of very few prominent conservatives in Silicon Valley. Meta announced the end of Thiel’s 17-year tenure on the board in February — and reports indicated that the billionaire is leaving to prioritize supporting Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.
“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,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year. “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.”
Indeed, The New York Times reported that a person familiar with Thiel’s thinking attributes his exit to a desire to influence the midterms.
“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,” the outlet reported. “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.”
In particular, Thiel has invested in Senate candidates Blake Masters of Arizona and J.D. Vance of Ohio. Earlier this week, Thiel contributed $3.5 million to a super PAC supporting Masters, his former employee — bringing his total contribution to $13.5 million, according to The Washington Post.
Thiel also backed a super PAC in support of Vance, another employee, with $10 million. He added $3.5 million more after Vance earned the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, as well as $1.5 million in the final days of Ohio’s primary — from which Vance emerged victorious.
In total, Thiel is backing four Senate candidates and 12 House candidates ahead of the fall elections.
“It has been a privilege to work with one of the great entrepreneurs of our time,” Thiel said of his departure from Meta. “Mark Zuckerberg’s intelligence, energy, and conscientiousness are tremendous. His talents will serve Meta well as he leads the company into a new era.”
Turnout data indicate that Republicans may be well-positioned for victories in November. In the primary elections in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho, and Oregon, Republicans made up 54.9% of the total votes cast. When factoring in the other five states that have already held primaries — Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, and West Virginia — Republicans account for fully 60% of votes cast in the primaries so far.
“In every state where I’ve been measuring turnout changes relative to previous midterms, I’m seeing a clear advantage on the Republican side,” JMC Analytics founder John Couvillon told the New York Post.
Beyond Republican candidates, Thiel has backed several conservative-leaning initiatives over the past year. Narya Capital — a venture fund co-founded by Thiel and Vance — invested in video platform Rumble, which markets itself as an alternative to video websites created by Big Tech.
Thiel also joined with other prominent investors in backing entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s Strive — an asset management company that will compete with BlackRock, Vanguard, and other firms that push “stakeholder capitalism” and other progressive viewpoints onto firms in their portfolios.