Thiel makes RNC history and aligns with Trump as a builder

Steven Loeb · July 22, 2016 · Short URL:

Thiel is the first person to declare he's gay at the RNC, but most still disappointed

Tonight, on the fourth night of the Republican National Convention, we finally got to hear the speech that all of us were waiting for.

No, not Donald Trump's. I'm speaking, of course, of Peter Thiel, who could not have had a more high profile spot, speaking right before Ivanka came out to introduce the candidate himself.

Thiel, who is also a delegate for Trump representing California, seemed like an odd choice for such a high profile speech, mainly because he's such an important member of the tech community, a group that has very little love for Trump as a whole. His being there, however, showed just how much of an independent thinker he is. Too many people in Silicon Valley, are lemmings in their thoughts and investments.

More notably, Thiel is also openly gay, making him the first RNC speaker to hold that distinction since Arizona Representative Jim Kolbe all the way back in 2000.

Unlike Kolbe, though, Thiel used the platform to discuss his sexuality. In fact, he made history when he said this: "Of course, every American has a unique identity. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican, but, most of all, I am proud to be an American."

No other speaker had ever declared themselves to be gay at the RNC before. 

There was a lot more to Thiel's six-minute long speech, of course. Here are some of the best quotes:

  • "I'm not a politician, but neither is Donald Trump. He is a builder, and it's time to rebuild America."
  • "Instead of going to Mars, we have invaded the Middle East... It's time to end the era of stupid wars and rebuild our country."
  • "Wall Street bankers inflate bubbles in everything, from government bonds to Hillary Clinton's speaking fees."
  • "When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union, and we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?"
  • "I don't pretend to agree with every plank in our party's platform, but fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline."

Silicon Valley reacts

As I said above, Silicon Valley, overall, is no fan of Trump, making Thiel something of an outlier in the community. So it's not a surprise that the reaction to his speech from his contemporaries was mixed, at best, with most of the reaction coming on the negative side. 

The prevailing mood seemed to be disappointment, including from John Lilly, Partner at Greylock and former CEO of Mozilla; Hunter Walk, founder of Homebrew; Tristan Walker,  Founder & CEO of Walker & Company Brands; Mike Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz; and Muneeb Ali, Co-founder of Blockstack Labs.

Of course, some were also proud of Thiel, not only for speaking his mind, but of being brave enough to say what he said. That included Kyle Zink, marketing lead of Project Ara at Google, and Michael Dearing, founder of Harrison Metal.

Some decided to take some of the air out of the speech by using humor, including Aaron Levie, founder of Box and Mark Twomey, a Technical Director in the CTO team for EMC's Data Protection & Availability Division.

And at Nikolai Yakovenko, a member of the deep learning team at Twitter, while a big fan of the speech, was just thankful the speech didn't go on forever.

You can see Thiel's entire presentation below:

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