Billionaire investor Peter Thiel announced Monday that he would leave the board at Meta, ending a run with the tech giant formerly known as Facebook that began when he acquired a 10 percent stake in the company in 2004 for a paltry $500,000. Like many ultrarich people who step away from their career, Thiel will now reportedly focus on his latest passion project: spending millions to get Trump supporters he likes elected to the Senate.
Thiel has had some past success nudging Republicans into office, donating $300,000 to Senator Josh Hawley’s 2018 campaign in Missouri. But the conservative billionaire has stepped up his efforts for this year’s midterms, which he sees as pivotal to changing the country’s direction, according to a source close to Thiel who spoke with the New York Times. Whether he’s spending wisely remains an open question. Already he has donated $10 million each to two former employees, Blake Masters in Arizona and J.D. Vance in Ohio. Both are clean-cut, Trump-supporting candidates who parrot many of Hawley’s criticisms about the rise of China and the fall of traditional American values. (It’s rich, considering their backer, that they also bad-mouth the tyranny of big tech.) But Masters has yet to gain traction, while Politico reported on Monday that a super-PAC friendly to Vance warned in a memo that the Hillbilly Elegy author has seen a “precipitous decline” in standing in the race in recent months and “needs a course correction ASAP.”
Whether or not Thiel’s political investments will be as successful as some of his past $10 million interventions, his departure from Meta means the board loses its most conservative voice and biggest advocate for unrestricted free speech. In October, a year after Facebook banned the Q conspiracy from its sites, he said he would take “QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories any day over a Ministry of Truth.”