Republicans Tap Facebook’s Peter Thiel To Speak At RNC As Silicon Valley Runs For The Hills

CREDIT: STEPHEN BRASHEAR/CREATIVE COMMONS
CREDIT: STEPHEN BRASHEAR/CREATIVE COMMONS

Paypal cofounder and sworn enemy of Gawker Peter Thiel will publicly endorse Donald Trump for president during next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The billionaire tech investor was announced as a speaker earlier this week along with a star-studded conservative line-up that included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and ex-footballer Tim Tebow, who has since dropped out of the convention.

The tech industry is known for being unapologetically progressive on issues such as immigration and marriage equality. But Thiel stands alone. The Facebook board member, who controversially backed Hulk Hogan’s first amendment lawsuit against Gawker, isn’t afraid of going against the grain — even if his personal opinions pose a conflict of interest with the industry. Thiel discourages higher education, paying 20 kids $100,000 not to go to college, and has talked about creating his own island utopia that doesn’t have laws.

Thiel is also a vocal libertarian and often supports Republican-backed causes. Earlier this year, he was named as one of Trump’s delegates. But his endorsement of Trump is seemingly in opposition to the general consensus in Silicon Valley, which tends to rally around individual issues and isn’t always party loyal.

Nearly 150 tech executives wrote an open letter criticizing Trump’s presidential bid as potentially disastrous for the tech community.

We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

The undersigned tech executives go on to say that besides Trump’s past racist and xenophobic remarks, the real estate mogul simply doesn’t understand how technology works and has made troublesome proposals, including shutting down the internet.

We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

Finally, we believe that government plays an important role in the technology economy by investing in infrastructure, education and scientific research. Donald Trump articulates few policies beyond erratic and contradictory pronouncements. His reckless disregard for our legal and political institutions threatens to upend what attracts companies to start and scale in America. He risks distorting markets, reducing exports, and slowing job creation.

Tech executives can back whoever they want and actively advocate for certain issues — Apple CEO Tim Cook has frequently used his position as a platform to promote diversity and criticize public policy. But Thiel’s endorsement of a candidate who’s policy proposals contradict the very principles that make Silicon Valley so successful — freedom of expression on the internet, immigration, and government partnerships for cybersecurity — seems at minimum counter-intuitive.