Peter Andreas Thiel (; born October 11, 1967) is a German-American entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, venture capitalist, philanthropist, political activist, and author. Referred to as the "Don of the PayPal Mafia", Thiel was ranked No. 4 on the Forbes Midas List of 2014, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, and No. 246 on the Forbes 400 in 2016, with a net worth of $2.7 billion.
Born in Frankfurt, Thiel moved with his family to the United States as an infant. He spent a portion of his upbringing in Africa before returning to the U.S., where he attended San Mateo High School. He studied philosophy at Stanford University, graduating with a B.A. in 1989. He then went on to the Stanford Law School, and received his J.D. in 1992. After graduation, he worked as a judicial clerk for Judge James Larry Edmondson, a securities lawyer for Sullivan & Cromwell, a speechwriter for former-U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett and as a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse prior to founding Thiel Capital in 1996. He then co-founded PayPal in 1999, and served as chief executive officer until its sale to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
After eBay's acquisition of PayPal, he founded Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund. He launched Palantir Technologies, an analytical software company, in 2004 and continues to serve as its chairman as of 2016. Before launching Founders Fund, a venture capital firm, in 2005 with his PayPal partners Ken Howery and Luke Nosek, Thiel became Facebook's first outside investor when he acquired a 10.2% stake for $500,000 in August 2004. He sold the majority of his shares in Facebook for over $1 billion in 2012, but remains on the board of directors. He also co-founded Valar Ventures in 2010 and operates as its chairman, co-founded Mithril Capital, of which he is investment committee chair, in 2012, and has served as a partner in Y Combinator since 2015.
Thiel is involved with a variety of philanthropic and political pursuits. Through the Thiel Foundation, he governs the grant-making bodies Breakout Labs and Thiel Fellowship, and supports life extension, seasteading and other speculative research. A founder of The Stanford Review, he is a conservative libertarian who is critical of excessive government spending, high debt levels, and foreign wars. He has donated to numerous political figures, and provided financial support to Hulk Hogan in Bollea v. Gawker. In November 2016, he was named to the executive committee of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team.