Peter Thiel Is Stepping Down From Facebook to Go Full MAGA

The billionaire tech investor has already funneled millions into Republican Senate campaigns.
Peter Thiel speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Nov. 18, 2019. (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Peter Thiel speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Nov. 18, 2019. (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel is stepping down from the board of Meta, Facebook’s parent company said Monday. And he’s planning to spend his free time—and some part of his vast wealth—to get candidates allied with former President Donald Trump elected, according to the New York Times


Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, was the first outside investor in the company that became Meta last year. Meta announced Monday that Thiel would not run for re-election to the company’s board of directors, which he’s been on since 2005. In a statement, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Thiel a “valuable member of our board” and thanked him for, among other things, “teaching me so many lessons about business, economics, and the world.”

“It has been a privilege to work with one of the great entrepreneurs of our time,” Thiel said in a statement provided by Meta. “Mark Zuckerberg's intelligence, energy, and conscientiousness are tremendous. His talents will serve Meta well as he leads the company into a new era."

Thiel plans to focus his energy on the 2022 midterms, a person described as having knowledge of Thiel’s thinking told the New York Times. Thiel has already spent tens of millions of dollars on the 2022 election, dumping $10 million each last year into PACs supporting J.D. Vance and Blake Masters, who are running right-wing populist campaigns for U.S. Senate seats in Ohio and Arizona, respectively. 


Both are closely connected with Thiel. Masters is the president of the Thiel Foundation philanthropic organization, and co-wrote a book with him. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, was a principal at Mithril Capital, which Thiel founded. 

Thiel’s Republican activism goes back years: He donated more than $31,000 to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and was an early donor to Rand Paul and Ted Cruz’s first campaigns for Senate, according to FEC filings. But Thiel has increased his giving substantially since the rise of Trump, spending more than $850,000, for example, on Kris Kobach’s failed bid for Senate in Kansas in 2020.

Thiel has donated to a dozen House candidates and four 2022 Senate candidates so far, according to the New York Times. But actually getting these people elected is proving a little more difficult. 

Despite his high-profile life prior to his candidacy and Thiel’s millions, Vance has struggled to find traction in a crowded Ohio Senate primary. A pollster commissioned by the Protect Ohio Values PAC—the group Thiel donated $10 million to last March—produced a presentation last month which said Vance had seen a “precipitous decline” and was “still ideologically misaligned and has problems that need to be corrected,” Politico reported. Vance’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

And the Arizona Senate race for the seat formerly held by McCain hasn’t gone much better for the Thiel-backed candidate. Masters has consistently polled in the single digits behind Mark Brnovich, the Arizona attorney general, in the primary to likely face Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly. And recent polling indicated that Gov. Doug Ducey—who’s been the subject of intense criticism from Trump ever since he certified the 2020 election results in Arizona—would be a clear favorite should he decide to run. 

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, reportedly wants Ducey to run for Senate, according to Politico. Ducey, however, has said repeatedly that he won’t, saying as recently as last week that he has “more than enough on my plate” between finishing out his term as governor and serving as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

“Of course it’s always satisfying or gratifying when people are encouraging you to do more in public life,” Ducey told KTAR in Phoenix last week. “I’ve got the job I want. This is a great job. I love being the governor.”

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