What is the world's biggest challenge in the coming decade?
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: What is the world’s biggest challenge in the coming decade?
Peter Thiel: There are all sorts of macro trends that are significant, but are people sort of aware of them? The question is always which ones are there that are very significant that people are perhaps not fully aware of. I continue to believe that one of the bigger ones is that we have a serious, ongoing energy problem that, for a whole slew of reasons, people are not aware of. People on the left think it’s good if the world runs out of oil because it causes all this pollution. People on the right think that it’s a problem you don’t need to worry about because if we run out of oil people will invent something else. I think it’s a little bit more complicated than that. It’s the sort of thing that if you don’t plan and do something in advance, you could set yourself up for a crisis that would be quite as big or bigger than what we saw in the 1970s. I see everything very much in place for that. The objective facts are demands are going up two percent a year; supply is not going up; prices relentlessly drifting higher; and then nobody is changing their behavior. People aren’t investing more in alternatives. They’re not investing more in drilling, in conservation, in anything. And we still have a no-energy policy. And the left blocks nuclear power, the right blocks conservation, and so we end up with nothing at all in the U.S. It's very, very often in that direction.
Recorded on: Sep 05, 2007
There is a serious, on-going energy problem that for a whole slew of reasons people are not aware of.