Since the days of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s, no industry has made a greater global impact than Silicon Valley. And few individuals have done more to shape Silicon Valley than billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel. From the technologies we use every day to the delicate power balance between Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington, Thiel has been a behind-the-scenes operator influencing countless aspects of contemporary life.
But despite his power and the ubiquity of his projects, no public figure is quite so mysterious. In the first major biography of Thiel, Max Chafkin traces the trajectory of the innovator's singular life and worldview, from his upbringing as the child of immigrant parents and years at Stanford as a burgeoning conservative thought leader to his founding of PayPal and Palantir, early investment in Facebook and SpaceX, and relationships with fellow tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt. The Contrarian illuminates the extent to which Thiel has sought to export his values to the corridors of power beyond Silicon Valley, such as funding the lawsuit that bankrupted the blog Gawker to strenuously backing far-right political candidates, including Donald Trump for president.
Eye-opening and deeply reported, The Contrarian is a revelatory biography of a one-of-a-kind leader and an incisive portrait of a tech industry whose explosive growth and power is both thrilling and fraught with controversy.