'We are in a surprisingly libertarian moment'.

Author:Cavanaugh, Tim
Position:Soundbite - Venture capitalist Peter Thiel - Interview


The libertarian entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal, was an early investor in Facebook, and currently serves as president of the global macro hedge fund Clarium Capital. He has donated money to several libertarian causes, including the Seasteading Institute, a group exploring ways to build autonomous communities in the ocean. He recently announced the creation of the Thiel Fellowship, which will award $100,000 each to 20 people under 20 years old to "stop out" of college and create their own business ventures.

In October, Thiel sat down with Senior Editor Tim Cavanaugh to talk about exit rights, the higher education bubble, and the Facebook-inspired film The Social Network.

Q: The Facebook movie has just come out. Could you speak about the accuracy of the movie?

A: Hollywood is a little bit of a zero-sum game--there can only be so many celebrities--whereas I think technology is fundamentally about creating a win-win where everybody can do better. The film tries to impose a Hollywood, or governmental, win-lose mentality on a world that's fundamentally about winning and winning.

Q: PayPal was initially viewed as highly utopian--maybe not by you, but by the world--as a possibility of revolutionizing the whole money system. Does the actual PayPal experience indicate that there's no escape from the government and from the dollar system?

A: It's not easy to escape. The regulatory issues surrounding the payment and monetary system are formidable. I think we are heading toward a world where people have somewhat more control over their money than they did 30 or 40 years ago. One macroeconomic way of describing this is that we're seeing lower and lower rates of inflation.

Q: Talk about the Seasteading Institute.

A: The goal has been to try to create some kind of space outside of politics. There's so much about the political sphere that has become just poisonous. It's about people collectively hating other people. That's basically what politics is about: collective hatred.

We need to figure out a way to escape from it. Even if a...

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