Peter Thiel arrived in the nation’s capital Monday to lay out his case for Donald Trump as the country’s next president, but some of his remarks were aimed at his comrades back in the technology industry mecca of Silicon Valley.
The liberal bastion has been deeply supportive of Democrat Hillary Clinton (and President Obama before her) and Thiel’s endorsement of her Republican opponent has drawn harsh criticism from others in his industry. Thiel, a billionaire and proud contrarian, has co-founded two tech companies, PayPal and Palantir, and successfully invested in several others.
When asked whether Silicon Valley understands the rest of the country, Thiel gave a long answer that more or less amounted to “no.”
“Silicon Valley has been extremely successful over the last decade or so. . . . The story Silicon Valley always wants to tell is one in which their specific success as individuals and as companies gets conflated with the story of general success and general progress in the United States,” he said. “We’re doing well and therefore our whole civilization is doing well. Everybody is doing well. The whole country is taken to the next level. That’s the narrative people love to tell, specific success linked to general success. The truth has been one of more specific success but more general failure” as a country.
Thiel added that Silicon Valley’s perspective is different from, and perhaps out of touch with, the rest of the country because it operates in “the world of bits,” meaning computers and software.
The tech industry hasn’t been encumbered by government regulation in the same way as other industries, and its workforce hasn’t been diminished by trade policies that sent lower-skilled labor overseas, he said. That’s not the case for many other industries in many other parts of the country, Thiel said.
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