- Peter Thiel turned both barrels on Silicon Valley in a blistering New York Times op-ed on Thursday.
- The tech billionaire said the tech scene is marked by an “extreme strain of parochialism” and is a place where people have done “exceedingly well for themselves” while others have suffered.
- His arguments are likely to play well with the White House, where President Donald Trump has been thunderous in attacking America’s biggest tech companies.
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Peter Thiel turned up the heat on Google in a blistering New York Times op-ed on Thursday, but he also pointed both barrels at Silicon Valley in general.
Thiel, a billionaire tech investor who co-founded Paypal, cast his eyes around at his peers and branded them “incurious” to the issues beyond their own bubble.
In a stinging assessment of Google’s decision to establish an AI lab in China, while also withdrawing from US military contract “Project Maven,” he said it was symptomatic of a narrow Silicon Valley outlook.
“How can Google use the rhetoric of ‘borderless’ benefits to justify working with the country whose ‘Great Firewall’ has imposed a border on the internet itself?” Thiel asked.”This way of thinking works only inside Google’s cosseted Northern California campus, quite distinct from the world outside.”
At this point, he broadened his critique of Google to the wider California tech scene.
“The Silicon Valley attitude sometimes called ‘cosmopolitanism’ is probably better understood as an extreme strain of parochialism, that of fortunate enclaves isolated from the problems of other places – and incurious about them,” he wrote.
He later said that the Valley and Wall Street are an “archipelago of inward-looking,” adding that they are places where people have done “exceedingly well for themselves while their fellow citizens have been left behind in a stagnant economy.”
Thiel is, of course, inextricably linked to this Valley and Wall Street bubble.
His net worth stands at $2.5 billion, according to Forbes. He is a board member at Facebook, one of the world’s most valuable companies. He has investments in other tech giants, like Airbnb and Lyft, which went public at a $24 billion valuation in April. Thiel recently sold his $7.4 million San Francisco mansion and paid $5 million for a cottage in the Hollywood Hills, according to Variety.
Nevertheless, his arguments are likely to play well with the White House, where President Donald Trump has been thunderous in attacking America’s biggest tech companies and their supposed – but unproven – liberal bias. It also coincides with Trump waging a vicious trade war with China, the very country Thiel is raising the alarm over.
Currying favor with the president is a strategy that appears to suit Thiel’s investments well. As Bloomberg’s Lizette Chapman points out, the revenue of three of his companies – SpaceX, Palantir, and Anduril – relies heavily on government contracts.