Peter Thiel: Today, Silicon Valley; Tomorrow, the Atlantic
Peter Thiel is an American entrepreneur, hedge fund manager and venture capitalist. He is Clarium’s President and the Chairman of the firm’s investment committee, which oversees the firm’s research, investment, and trading strategies. Before starting Clarium, Peter served as Chairman and CEO of PayPal, an Internet company he co-founded in December 1998 and was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.
Prior to founding PayPal, Peter ran Thiel Capital Management , the predecessor to Clarium, which started with $1 million under management in 1996. Peter began his financial career as a derivatives trader at CS Financial Products, after practicing securities law at Sullivan & Cromwell.
In addition to managing Clarium, Peter is active in a variety of philanthropic and educational pursuits; he sits on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Research Institute, the Board of Visitors of Stanford Law School, and is an adviser to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Peter received a BA in Philosophy from Stanford University and a JD from Stanford Law School. He is self-described libertarian and a minority investor in Big Think.
Question: As a libertarian, where is the best place to live and do business in the world?
Peter Thiel: Technology innovation is still... the best place is still Silicon Valley and California is still the best place for technology innovation which is the business that I’m in and you know going to be in for the decades ahead. You know, the worry is, obviously, that this engine gets regulated or constrained and slows down, and in that case I think you have you know, even worse problems in California and the U.S. that they are problems that probably extend to much of the developed world.
Question: Is that why you’re hedging your bets with your investment in the Seasteading Initiative?
Peter Thiel: The Seasteading Initiative that we’ve been talking about for the last few years is a bit of an experimental project. It’s run by this guy, Patrick Friedman, the grandson of Milton Friedman, the famous economist. This is an idea about, can you create experimental new types of communities on the oceans? I think from a technological perspective, something like seasteading is an important frontier for us to look at. We need to be looking at all the unexplored frontiers that have not been taken. And if you sort of go back to the 1960’s, people thought of space as the final frontier, but they also had all these ideas about exploring and developing the oceans, which cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and are largely undeveloped, plans to turn deserts into arable land and reforesting the deserts and so there are all these sort of frontiers that we think are very underdeveloped and it is worth trying to go back to that spirit of trying to move the frontier of human knowledge and progress.
Recorded November 15, 2010
Interviewed by Victoria Brown
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler
Image courtesy of Flickr user sergio_leenen.
California is still the best place for tech companies to do business. But colonies on offshore platforms might one day become our centers of innovation.
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