Peter Thiel, Co-founder, PayPal to speak at Live Talks LA October 2

We’re excited to be exclusively hosting Peter Thiel, Co-founder of PayPal on October 2, 2014, in Santa Monica.  Ticket info.

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel first gained attention for innovations in banking and startup finance. In 1998, Thiel made e-commerce easier, faster, and more secure by co-founding and leading PayPal, which now has more than 128 million active financial accounts. In 2002, PayPal sold to eBay and he founded a global macro fund, Clarium.  He works to accelerate innovation by identifying and funding promising technology ideas and by guiding successful companies to scale and dominate their industries.

In 2004, he co-founded Palantir Technologies, which offers platforms for finance companies and intelligence, defense, and law enforcement communities to integrate, visualize, and analyze the world’s information. In the same year, he made the first outside investment in Facebook, whose board he serves on, and now has more than a billion active members.

Building on his personal success as a venture capital investor, Thiel co-founded and manages Founders Fund, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital fund that has pioneered new methods of venture financing that benefit founders. Through Founders Fund, as well as through his private investing, he has helped the next generation of tech companies, such as SpaceX, LinkedIn, YelpRoboteX, and Spotify.

And in 2012 he co-founded Mithril Capital Management, an international technology investment fund.

Thiel established and funds the Thiel Foundation, which promotes freedom in all its forms. He sponsors the Committee to Protect JournalistsThe Seasteading Institute, and the Human Rights Foundation. He funds the artificial intelligence research of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. He also aids work against violence through the Oslo Freedom Forum and through the research of philosopher René Girard, which is extended and promulgated by Imitatio. He also promotes better health by funding the longevity research of Dr. Cynthia Kenyon and the SENS Research Foundation.

Thiel created the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, which nurtures the tech visionaries of tomorrow. And he formed Breakout Labs to help independent scientists, engineers, and inventors advance their most radical ideas.

Thiel earned a B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he occasionally teaches on globalization and technology and serves on the board of overseers of the Hoover Institution. His articles have appeared in Policy Review and the Wall Street Journal. He co-produced the film Thank You for Smoking, was rated a master by the United States Chess Federation, and received the Innovation Award from the Economist in 2010. He lives in San Francisco.

Thiel book jcketZERO TO ONE (co-authored with Blake Masters) is Thiel’s impassioned plea for an entirely new way of thinking about innovation, urging future business leaders not to compete on well-trodden paths but to explore a new frontier, stake their claim, and do something that has never been done. It is about the questions one must ask to find value in unexpected places. It is at an optimistic view of what the future of progress looks like in America and an intellectual meditation on the nature of innovation and other challenges of today’s business world of which Thiel writes: “If American business is going to succeed, we are going to need hundreds, or even thousands, of miracles. We call these miracles technology.   

In recent decades there have been rapid advances in information technology, but there is no reason why technology should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley for that matter. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It requires just one thing: a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and ask oneself the question: what valuable company is nobody building?

ZERO TO ONE does teach is the most important skill every future business leader must master: the ability to think for oneself.

Thiel’s often contrary views underscore his point; that to build the future we must challenge convention and believe that what lies ahead is a world where things are not only different but better. Among the many ideas presented, he takes on such topics as:

  • The fallacy of “lean” methodology so widely embraced by startups
  • The benefit of monopolies and why capitalism cannot thrive without them
  • The limitations of globalization and its detriment to innovation
  • The ideology of competition in business and academia that poses a threat to creativity
  • Man vs. Machine: why computers will never really replace people

These topics and more were at the core of a course taught by Peter Thiel at Stanford University in 2012, the goal of which was to help students see beyond the world of academia and on to the broader future that is theirs to create. One of the students taking that course, Blake Masters, took detailed notes on Thiel’s lectures and posted them on his blog. Within days, they had circulated far beyond the campus and generated over 350,000 readers and more than a million page views. Those notes have been revised, expanded, and refined to form the backbone of ZERO TO ONE.