Peter “Thiel boasts a World Chess Federation rating of 2,199, one point short of the group’s lowest honorific, candidate master,” Max Chafkin and Lizette Chapman report for Bloomberg. “At 48, he’s co-founded PayPal, was Facebook’s first outside investor, and is worth almost $3 billion. He still sits on Facebook’s board, and through his firm, Founders Fund, made early bets on Spotify, Airbnb, SpaceX, Lyft, Palantir Technologies, and a half-dozen other private companies worth more than $1 billion each.”

“His status as ringleader of the PayPal Mafia, the network of former employees and co-founders that includes SpaceX’s Elon Musk and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, makes him one of Silicon Valley’s most influential and admired figures; his iconoclastic politics make him a subject of amusement. Not coincidentally, and disconcertingly to many of those close to him, Thiel is also one of Donald Trump’s most prominent backers,” Chafkin and Chapman report. “Thiel is scheduled to address the Republican National Convention in a prime-time speaking slot shortly before Trump accepts the nomination. Thiel declined to comment for this article, but according to a person familiar with his speech, he plans to embrace Trump’s skepticism about recent U.S. wars in the Middle East and to praise the candidate’s economic qualifications—despite Trump’s advocacy of protectionist tariffs and extreme immigration restrictions, measures that would seem at odds with the radical libertarian image Thiel projects. Thiel also plans to say that, though he considers identity politics a distraction, he’s proud of his identity as a gay man. Thiel will be the first speaker to publicly acknowledge his or her homosexuality at a Republican convention.”

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel

“His speech also marks an historic moment for Silicon Valley. After decades of avoiding politics, technology companies have suddenly taken an interest in elections,” Chafkin and Chapman report. “But the industry has been moving into more heavily regulated areas of the economy in recent years. Uber and Airbnb are locked in battles with municipalities over the “sharing economy.” Tesla Motors faces scrutiny over its driverless car program. Google and Apple have been fighting off federal government pressure to build backdoors into their technology… In interviews, four of Thiel’s friends and colleagues—all of whom would speak only on the condition of anonymity—characterized his decision to back Trump as in keeping with his entrepreneurial instincts. He loves disruption, in the Silicon Valley sense of “creative destruction,” as opposed to the usual connotation of “making things worse,” and has weighed the candidate’s demagoguery against a hope that a Trump administration would clear the way for further disruption. It is, these friends and colleagues say, a perfectly sensible chess move—the political equivalent of the king’s pawn.”

Tons more in the full article here.

Tech investor Peter Thiel’s embrace of Donald Trump for U.S. President has Silicon Valley squirming – July 20, 2016
Tech billionaire Peter Thiel funded Hulk Hogan lawsuit to take down Gawker which outed him, Tim Cook, and others – May 27, 2016
An open letter from Apple co-founder Woz, other techies on Donald Trump’s candidacy for U.S. President – July 14, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]