Max Chafkin: Peter Thiel and the Pursuit of Power in Silicon Valley
Over the past two decades, no industry has had a greater impact on the world than the tech industry, born and bred in California's Silicon Valley. And perhaps few individuals have done more to shape Silicon Valley than the enigmatic tech investor and entrepreneur, Peter Thiel. The billionaire venture capitalist and tech leader has been a behind-the-scenes operator influencing the tech industry and countless aspects of our contemporary way of life, from the technologies we use every day to the delicate power balance between Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington, particularly during the Trump administration. But despite his power, no public figure might be quite so mysterious as Thiel.
In the first major biography of Thiel, reporter Max Chafkin traces the trajectory of Thiel's singular life and worldview, from his upbringing as the child of immigrant parents and years at Stanford as a burgeoning conservative thinker to his founding of PayPal and Palantir, early investments in Facebook and SpaceX, and relationships with fellow tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt. Chafkin's book, The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley's Pursuit of Power, explores the extent to which Thiel has sought to have influence far beyond California's tech industry, including funding the lawsuit that destroyed the blog Gawker and supporting conservative political candidates, including Donald Trump in 2016.
To understand Silicon Valley and its impact, particularly on American political and civic life, an understanding of Thiel is a critical piece of the puzzle. Please join us for an important discussion on this critical player in the tech industry and American life. The discussion will be led by Brad Stone, best known for chronicling another enigmatic tech mogul, Amazon's Jeff Bezos.