The long-term member of the Meta board and earliest outside investor of Facebook is leaving the tech company to focus on his political career.
Peter Thiel will not seek re-election to the board of Meta this year, the social media group said on Monday. A billionaire tech investor is Silicon Valley’s most prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump.
He decided to focus on political endeavors and avoid his political association as a distraction for Facebook. He intends to focus his support on Republicans aligned with Trump’s agenda, such as Blake Masters and JD Vance.
They are seeking election to the Senate in November’s 2022 midterm elections.
In his statement, he said that it was a privilege to work with one of the great entrepreneurs of this time. Zuckerberg’s intelligence, energy, and conscientiousness are tremendous.
He expressed his confidence that Zuckerberg will serve the company and lead the company into a new era.
He was the first outside investor in Facebook and has sat on the board since 2005. He made his fortunes through numerous venture capital funds. He has made more than $1bn from selling those shares.
Because of his political affiliations, his presence on Facebook’s board is considered controversial. He was under fire when the social media company was criticized for handling political speech and misinformation.
Domestically Republicans accused it of censoring conservative voices, while Democrats argue it does not adequately police the content.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, he fomented divisions on Facebook’s board after lobbying Zuckerberg, CEO, to continue to run political advertising and not fact check them ahead of the 2020 election.
Last month also faced criticism when a report revealed that Founders Fund, another venture capital group he co-founded, had invested in a company claiming to have developed a way to hack the Meta-owned encrypted messaging app WhatsApp.
In 2016 Theil gave more than $1mn to pro-Trump groups and has been supporting the Republican Party throughout 2021. He donated $86,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and Republican leadership committees.
Recently he became a major donor to a new, younger crop of right-wing populists. Some of them are part of his venture capital networks such, as Masters, Thiel Capital, and his non-profit Thiel Foundation.
In 2021, he gave $10mn to a political action committee supporting Blake Masters. He also donated $5,800 directly to that campaign. His donation extends to JD Vance.
$10mn was donated to him for his Senate race in Ohio and another $3,000 directly to Vance’s campaign. The latter used to work as a principal for Mithril Capital, another venture capital group that Thiel co-founded.
These committees have not been afraid of aggressive campaign tactics.