Peter Thiel, true to his reputation as the most contrarian soul in Silicon Valley, is doubling down on Donald J. Trump.
The only prominent supporter of the Republican candidate in the high-tech community, Mr. Thiel is making his first donation in support of Mr. Trump’s election. He will give $1.25 million through a combination of super PAC donations and funds given directly to the campaign, a person close to the investor said on Saturday.
The donation puts the billionaire investor high on a very short list of big Trump contributors. One of the biggest donors is Robert Mercer of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. He and his daughter Rebekah Mercer have given $15.5 million in support of the Republican candidate’s election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Geoffrey Palmer, a Los Angeles developer, has donated $2 million.
Mr. Thiel, who spoke at the Republican National Convention, apparently is unfazed by the storm around the candidate in the last week following the broadcasting of lewd conversations recorded by the syndicated program “Access Hollywood.” The source, who requested anonymity, said the investor feels the country needs fixing, and Mr. Trump can do it.
A spokesman for Mr. Thiel declined to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a message for comment.
The technology world has kept its wallet shut regarding Mr. Trump. By one accounting, the Trump campaign has raised $300,000 from tech companies; by another, only $19,000.
The candidate and Silicon Valley began on a bad note, with Mr. Trump lashing out at Amazon, Apple and other large companies. His position on immigration is the opposite of the tech industry’s, and he has shown little interest in other issues important to entrepreneurs. A meeting this month between tech industry advisers and Trump advisers was largely considered a bust.
Silicon Valley has been forced to confront its lack of diversity in recent years, which would make support of Mr. Trump especially problematic. Brian Krzanich, the chief executive of Intel, had planned to hold a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump in June, but hours after the event became public, it was abruptly canceled. In a Twitter message, Mr. Krzanich said he did not intend to endorse either presidential candidate.
Mr. Thiel, 49, emigrated from Germany as a child. He co-founded PayPal and Palantir, which focuses on pattern-finding software. His net worth is estimated at about $2.7 billion. Ever since Mr. Thiel was reported to be a California delegate for Mr. Trump, questions have swirled about why he had not given any of his wealth to help his candidate.
At the convention, Mr. Thiel sounded a populist tone rarely heard among entrepreneurs.
“Across the country, wages are flat. Americans get paid less today than 10 years ago,” he said. “But health care and college tuition cost more every year. Meanwhile, Wall Street bankers inflate bubbles in everything from government bonds to Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees. Our economy is broken. If you’re watching me right now, you understand this better than any politician in Washington D.C.”
David Streitfeld nytimes.com | Photo: Twitter
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