Peter Thiel should rightly be admired for sometimes seeing what many others cannot. He understood the power of online money transfers well before most traditional financial institutions. He wrote Facebook a check when it was little more than an interesting startup from another Harvard dropout. Most recently, he anticipated what few of his peers predicted could possibly come to fruition: a Trump presidency.
Of course, Thiel more than recognized that Trumpâs ascendancy was unstoppable. He spoke out publicly on Trumpâs behalf, including in a keynote speech at the Republican National Conventional. He also donated to Trumpâs campaign.
If Trump retreated back to the world of reality television and his real estate dealings after this yearâs election, as was widely expected to happen, Silicon Valley and the rest of the business world would eventually forget about Thielâs ringing endorsement of Trump. As distance grew between Trumpâs political aspirations and his ability to initiate global annihilation, the tech community would have been increasingly willing to forgive and forget.
Instead, Trump is now President-elect of the United States of America. And no matter what your position on that outcome â whether you consider him aÂ genius for acknowledging anÂ angry republic and for cutting his way to the most powerful office in the worldÂ virtually single-handedly, or you deem him a repellant human being who has repeatedly shown disdain for women, minorities, civility, and critical thinking more generally â he is wholly inexperienced as a politician. Things will be said that canât be unsaid. Mistakes will invariably made.
Some of these missteps will impact the people that Peter Thiel knows or wants to know. TheyÂ will also serve as a constant reminder ofÂ his support for Trump.
You might think itâs good news for Thiel that Trump isnât going away, that heâll become a powerful and sought-after conduit to the Oval Office. Maybe so. Unless the next presidentÂ pleasantly surprises the tech world, however, itÂ seems just as likelyÂ that theÂ extreme opposite is going to proveÂ true, that Trumpâs years in officeÂ will turn Thiel into the pariah that many in Silicon Valley were eager to cast him as during this divisive campaign season.
ThielÂ made his contrarian bet, and he was right.Â NowÂ heÂ may discover how deeply unpopular it makes him.
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