The So-Called Philosopher King of Silicon Valley
The Anti-Dystopians #2
Woohoo! Podcast #2 is live. On this week’s episode, I talked to Andrew Granato (Stanford, ‘17, now a 1L at Yale Law) about the so-called Philosopher King of Silicon Valley: Peter Thiel. Thiel is one of the original co-founders of Paypal, a co-founder of the data analytics firm Palantir, the first outside investor in Facebook, and the first high-level tech executive to come out in support of Donald Trump in 2016. We discussed Thiel’s politics, what they reveal about how he thinks about his businesses, and how he influences and shapes Silicon Valley politics and beyond.
Articles Mentioned in this Podcast
Andrew’s research into Peter Thiel began as an undergraduate at Stanford University, when he conducted an eleven month long investigation into Peter Thiel’s influence and legacy at Stanford. Check it out here.
Andrew has also published some very interesting writing about the “Rise of the Tech Founder-Emperor” and how that relates to the emergence of dual-class share structures at many tech companies. Read it here.
If you want some other features on Thiel, here’s a 2011 New Yorker profile, Ryan Mac on Peter Thiel’s meeting with the “racist fringe”, Scott Lucas on why Thiel supported Trump, and more on the link between Thiel and and literary scholar and anthropologist René Girard. There’s also the notes Blake Masters took on the class Thiel taught at Stanford which became the basis for Thiel’s book “Zero to One.”
The New York Times Magazine did a bit of a bizarre feature on Palantir and the relationship between Thiel and its CEO Alex Karp (we break it down more in the pod). Link here.
Greg Ferenstein’s take on the politics of Silicon Valley, what he calls a “data-driven book about Silicon Valley’s political endgame: the path toward overhauling the Democratic Party and orienting our lives toward innovation.”
How does Brexit fit into a conversation about Peter Thiel? The answer has to do with William Rees-Mogg (father of Jacob) and the strange influence of the Sovereign Individual in Silicon Valley. More on that story here.
On the phenomenon of doomsday prepping, and why so many Silicon Valley elites are obsessed with it.
Related to that, what is seasteading (spoiler alert: it’s not as cool as it sounds) and why some Silicon Valley folks think it could be the next “political start up”.
What I’m Reading
Looks like the Biden Administration is going to be more tech heavy than we thought. Sigh. Keep an eye on the Office of Management and Budget especially.
Don’t forget that WestExec Advisors, co-founded by Antony Blinken (Biden’s top foreign policy advisor) and Michèle Flournoy (a top Biden candidate for Secretary of Defense) was created in order to “bridge the Pentagon-Silicon Valley divide.” And one of their clients was Google’s Jigsaw (remember when Jared Cohen made a lot of people cry?)
Facebook’s internal employee message board briefly became a site for misinformation. It’s a little funny.
Jeffrey Paul on the new Apple Big Sur update and why it’s very bad for privacy. (Did you know the Apple quietly added a backdoor to its end-to-end encryption on iMessage!? I did not!)
Is there ANYWHERE AWS doesn’t pop up? This article “This College Degree is Brought to You by Amazon” and on the AWS Cloud Innovation Center embedded in universities around the US.
And the Atlantic’s fascinating feature “Why Can’t A Girl Inherit a Dukedom?” on sexism in the British aristocracy. Best insight is that the Earl of Carlisle’s family motto is “Volo non valeo” (“I am willing, but not able”)—the history of which is exactly as petty as you think it is.
Things You’re Reading
I know it’s a futile search, but does anyone have a good book (or long reads) on Nick Clegg? I have been trying to figure him out since he joined the team at Facebook.
Or send me anything else you’ve been reading!