Peter Thiel, a longtime member of Facebook's board known for his sometimes-contrarian views, will leave the company this year to focus on politics. He was an early investor in the company and joined the board in 2005, one year into the small startup's existence, CNN reports. He was a mentor to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who thanked him Monday for "teaching me so many lessons about business, economics, and the world." Meta, as the parent company is now called, didn't say whether Thiel will be replaced on the board.
He had received more attention in recent years as he became more involved in politics, per the New York Times. One of the Republican Party's biggest donors, Thiel is leaving to concentrate on helping candidates who support former President Donald Trump's politics win in the midterm elections. Zuckerberg has prized Thiel's Republican positions and presence on the board as ensuring ideological diversity. Thiel and his venture capital firm had a 10% stake in Facebook after he kicked in $500,000 in capital to Zuckerberg 18 years ago.
The entrepreneur co-founded PayPal and got in early on such tech startups as LinkedIn and Yelp. Lauded by Zuckerberg as "an original thinker," Thiel has supported creating floating cities, argued that young people should not go to college, and made the case that entrepreneurs should strive toward establishing monopolies. He's also backed the development of facial recognition software. In the process, a book released last fall said, Thiel has had a major effect on Silicon Valley. (Read more Peter Thiel stories.)