Peter Thiel is resigning from Meta's board to focus on electing pro-Trump candidates at the 2022 midterms, reports say

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Peter Thiel is resigning from Meta's board to focus on electing pro-Trump candidates at the 2022 midterms, reports say
Peter Thiel.Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times
  • Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel is stepping down from the board of Facebook parent Meta.
  • Thiel was one of the social media giant's first investors and board members.
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Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel is stepping down from the board of Facebook's parent company later this year, the company said on Monday.

Thiel will instead focus on helping to elect Republican candidates that support the agenda of President Trump during the midterm elections in November 2022, according to multiple reports.

The exit of one of Meta's most notable and most politically visible board members comes as Facebook deals with yet another crisis, this time of outside confidence in its vision for the future and its ability to rebuild its vital advertising infrastructure in the face of a crackdown on user privacy from several fronts.

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Thiel has been with Facebook since the beginning, as its first outside investor and one of its original board members, having joined back in April 2005 after giving the young company $500,000 for a little more than a 10% stake. He became a mentor and confidante to founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has credited Thiel with teaching him how to lead his company. Thiel is also credited as the mastermind behind Zuckerberg's continued and immovable leadership position due to the way shares of Facebook are broken up and his additional role as board chair.

"I'm deeply grateful for everything he has done for our company -- from believing in us when few others would, to teaching me so many lessons about business, economics, and the world," Zuckerberg said.

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Facebook, which last year changed its corporate name to Meta, said that Thiel would not seek re-election to the board at the company's May annual shareholder meeting. It last month added DoorDash CEO Tony Xu to its board. Zuckerberg added of Thiel, "We've always known that at some point he would devote his time to other interests."

Those interests are political, according to a report in The New York Times. Thiel, who has been associated with right-wing advocacy and was an advisor to former President Donald Trump, is said to be leaving Facebook in part to focus more of his attention on the upcoming US midterm elections. Thiel is seeking to elect pro-Trump candidates, The Times said.

In addition to his political activities and fundraising, Thiel leads the venture capital firm Founders Fund, chairs Palantir, which he cofounded, and was a cofounder of PayPal. He's a leading member of what's been dubbed the "PayPal mafia," a group of powerful tech players that had early success with the payments technology and have gone on to be even more influential. Thiel also funded the lawsuit by Hulk Hogan against media gossip site Gawker, which put it out of business.

"It has been a privilege to work with one of the great entrepreneurs of our time," Thiel said in a press release. "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's conservative politics have often been at the forefront of his advising of Zuckerberg. He reportedly urged Zuckerberg to not take action on political speech or advertising on Facebook platforms as it was accused of proliferating misinformation and being manipulated by foreign governments. Thiel and Zuckerberg also had dinner with former President Trump during Thiel's time as an advisor to then-president. As Trump's rhetoric became increasingly violent and more frequently false, Zuckerberg refused to deplatform him.

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The Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection proved a breaking point on social media for Trump, and he was subsequently banned from Facebook and Twitter. Since then, conservative politicians, a few of whom Thiel openly supports, have accused Facebook of censoring right-wing views. Last year, Thiel, in a discussion with Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, suggested that Facebook "overreached" in its banning of Trump, who will be allowed back on the platform in 2022.

"I'm on Facebook's board so I have to be careful with what I say here, but the de-platforming of President Trump was really quite extraordinary," Thiel said. "When you have Angela Merkel and Obrador from Mexico saying that the tech platforms have been too anti-Trump, too mean to Mr. Trump, that tells you that you've really overreached."

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