Known for his entrepreneurial skills and innovative approach, Peter Thiel has created a name for himself. A co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook, his contributions to the tech world are undeniable. However, there are facets of his life and personality that remain intriguingly elusive. Here are ten things you probably didn’t know about this Silicon Valley giant, Peter Thiel.

1. The Early Years and an Interest in Chess

Peter Thiel was born on October 11, 1967, in Frankfurt, Germany. His family immigrated to the United States when he was just a year old, settling in California. Besides his academic inclination, a younger Peter discovered his passion for the game of chess and became one of the highest-ranked under-21 players in the country.

His capability to strategize and think steps ahead, a crucial aspect of chess, may well be a quality that Thiel transferred into his business undertakings. It’s a glimpse into how the mind of this tech mogul worked even at a young age.

2. Co-founder of The Stanford Review

Thiel’s outspoken nature is evident in his ventures. As a student of philosophy at Stanford University, he co-founded The Stanford Review in 1987, which till date remains a controversial and conservative publication. The magazine aims to present unvoiced opinions and challenge the perceived liberal bias in the university.

This endeavor reflects Thiel’s continued interest and participation in political discourse and broadened the foundations of his career as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur.

3. Peter Thiel is a Published Author

In addition to his business accomplishments, Thiel is a published author. In 2014, he published a book called “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future”, based on a course about startups that he taught at Stanford. The book offers insights into entrepreneurship and innovation.

Despite his many pursuits, Thiel continues to contribute to the world of literature, aiming to inspire innovation among budding entrepreneurs. His book remains a staple read for budding entrepreneurs and business schools globally.

4. Thiel Fellowship

In 2011, Thiel made headlines by founding the Thiel Fellowship, a two-year program that pays young people to not pursue their formal education but to start a business instead. With this, Thiel aimed to encourage innovation over traditional academic pursuits, which sparked much debate.

However, Thiel’s controversial move proved successful, as companies founded by Thiel Fellows are collectively worth more than $3 billion today. It undoubtedly brought a fresh approach to entrepreneurship and the pursuit of ideas.

5. Peter Thiel as a Movie Inspiration

Unknown to many, Thiel’s life journey has been inspirational enough to form the basis of notable movie characters. In the film “The Social Network”, Thiel’s character played a significant role, depicting his real-life investment in Facebook during its early days.

As a part of the movie, Thiel’s character vested belief in the potential of social networking at a time when others were cautious. His portrayal brought another dimension to Thiel’s risk-taking and forward-thinking entrepreneurial spirit.

6. Thiel’s Interest in Life Extension

Life extension science and anti-aging concepts have always intrigued Thiel. He’s known to invest in companies related to this sector, including the Methuselah Foundation, which researches ways to extend human lifespan.

This oft-overlooked part of Thiel’s approach reflects his penchant for conceptual depth, out-of-the-box thinking, and his fascination for scientific progress that could influence human lives in significant ways.

7. Peter Thiel is a Libertarian

Many entrepreneurs separate their political leanings from their business ventures, but Thiel is not one of them. He is a prominent supporter of libertarian causes, which uphold principles of individual freedom and limited government interference.

He’s been open about his political affiliations and beliefs, even serving on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group, a closed-door meeting of global influential figures, further manifesting his engagement in shaping global policies.

8. Thiel as a Part of the PayPal Mafia

The term “PayPal Mafia” refers to a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since created various successful tech companies. Thiel, being a co-founder of PayPal, is a prominent member of this group.

The PayPal Mafia members, including Thiel, are recognized for their significant contributions to Silicon Valley’s innovation and growth. They’ve gone on to create some of the world’s leading companies, including Tesla and LinkedIn, which have changed the tech industry’s landscape.

9. Accreditation as a Master chess player

Thiel’s interest in chess goes beyond being a mere hobby. He is a certified “life master” by the United States Chess Federation. This title is given to players who achieve a certain high performance in chess.

His achievement ties in with his problem-solving and strategic thinking skills, which undoubtedly enhance his entrepreneurial vision and prowess in the business world.

10. Peter Thiel and Seasteading

Seasteading, the concept of creating floating cities with political systems independent of current nation-states, is another interest of Thiel. He has invested in the Seasteading Institute, which works towards making this idea a reality.

Thiel’s willingness to invest in such radical concepts underscores his drive to foster disruptive innovation and his yearning for liberal societal systems. It’s indeed fascinating to envisage Thiel’s perspective on potential future civilizations.

If you’d like to learn more about Peter Thiel, check out the following resources:
– Biographies: The First Biography of Peter Thiel
– Books: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
– Interviews and speeches: Disruption Talk by Peter Thiel