Peter Thiel's bet on Trump is paying off

Steven Loeb · November 11, 2016 · Short URL:

Thiel is just the latest to cross over from tech to politics, and vice versa

Peter Thiel was one of the few outspoken people in tech to voice his support for Donald Trump. At one point that move seemed to present quite a risk for him, getting him in trouble with many of his peers in Silicon Valley, and forcing him to go and defend his political choices publically

Now that Trump has won the election, Thiel's support is already paying off. He will be joining the campaign's transition team as it spends the next two months getting ready to enter the White House, according to a report out from Bloomberg on Friday.

That means that the PayPal founder will not only be involved with the vetting of presidential appointments, but he will also play a part in policy, helping to select which of Trump’s campaign promises he actually follows through on.

The Huffington Post had reported on Thursday that Thiel was actually being considered as a potential leader for the transition team, replacing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had held that spot since May. That role has now been filled by Vice President Mike Pence instead. 

Thiel’s title and exact role on the team are still being determined, due to Thiel being outside of the country at the moment. 

As for what policies he would push, sources told Bloomberg that government waste will be one of the top issues Thiel will try to get Trump to move on. 

VatorNews reached out to Thiel for confirmation, and for comment on what policies he will push as a member of the team. We will update this story if we learn more. 

Thiel's support of Trump

Throughout the election season, Thiel remained an outlier in Silicon Valley, the majority of whom backed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Thiel was a California delegate for Trump, thereby helping him secure the nomination, and he spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, getting the spot right before Ivanka Trump came out to introduce the candidate himself.

"I'm not a politician, but neither is Donald Trump. He is a builder, and it's time to rebuild America," Thiel said in his speech.

All of this has caused major controversy, which reached a head after it came out that Thiel was actually going to bankroll the Trump campaign, donating $1.25 million. Suddenly, his peers in Silicon Valley were seriously talking about ostracizing both Thiel, and anyone who defended him.

That forced Thiel to speak publicly about why he supporting Trump, something he called "the first time I've done something that's actually conventional."

"He points toward a new Republican party, beyond the dogmas of Reaganism. He points even beyond the remaking of one party, to a new American politics that overcomes denial, rejects bubble thinking, and reckons with reality," said Thiel.

It always seemed likely that, were Trump to win, Thiel would have at least some kind of role in the administration, though being an adviser seems like a better fit than the first rumored job: a justice on the Supreme Court.

Tech and government merge

If Thiel joins the Trump administration perminently, he would just be the latest person to cross over from tech to government, and vice versa.

He'd be following Stephanie Hannon, Google's director of product management for civic innovation and social impact, who was tapped by the Hillary Clinton campaign to be its new chief technology office last year, 

Megan Smith, the currently Chief Technology Officer of the United States, who assumed office in 2014, was also previously an executive at Google, where she had been vice president of Google[x], and was vice president of business development at Google for nine years before that. She was also the former CEO of Planet Out.

Josh Miller, who joined Facebook as a product manager following the acquisition of social sharing service Branch Media, left last year to become the first ever first director of product for the White House.

On the other side of the equation, there have been numerous tech companies, especially those with big media relations problems, that have brought in politicians to help sell themselves to the American people.

Uber hired David Plouffe as its new Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy in 2014. Plouffe is famous for being Barack Obama's campaign manager in 2008 and a Senior Advisor to the President when he got to the White House.

Plouffe's job was to manage all global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts. Essentially to build up Uber's brand in the same way he did for Obama, to get out ahead of the taxi industry, and to get both customer and regulators on Uber's side. In May of last year, Plouffe stepped back from that role, but remains an advisor to the company. 

In September of 2014, Snapchat hired Jill Hazelbaker, who had also been Senior Director of Communications and Government Relations at Google, to be its new Vice President of Communications and Public Policy.

Hazelbaker had previously worked as a political consultant for a number of Republican candidates, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She also worked as National Communications Director for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Jay Carney, former White House Press Secretary, joined Amazon last year as its senior vice president leading the company's Global Corporate Affairs department, and a month later Thumbtack hired its first CFO, bringing on Katie Biber, who had been General Counsel for Romney for President from 2011 to 2013.

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