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Tech-IndustriePeter Thiel kehrt dem Silicon Valley den Rücken

Investor Peter Thiel
Investor Peter ThielGetty Images


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Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, people familiar with his thinking said, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.

Mr. Thiel has also discussed with people close to him the possibility of resigning from the board of Facebook the people familiar with his thinking said. His relationship with the social-networking company—where he has been a director since 2005, the year after its founding—came under strain after a dispute with a fellow director over Mr. Thiel’s support for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and a related confrontation over boardroom leaks with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg last summer, the people said.​

However, Mr. Thiel feels he can still help the company and is likely to remain on the board at least for now, one of the people said.

Mr. Thiel’s plans are part of a broad move by the venture capitalist, who has ties to dozens of top startups, to reduce his direct role in the Silicon Valley tech industry that he helped to shape, the people said. Mr. Thiel has grown more disaffected by what he sees as the intolerant, left-leaning politics of the San Francisco Bay Area, and increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for tech businesses amid greater risk of regulation, they said.

As a result, after spending most of the past four decades in the Bay Area, the 50-year-old plans to permanently move into the 7,000-square foot home overlooking the Sunset Strip that he bought six years ago, a person familiar with the matter said. He also will move Thiel Capital and Thiel Foundation, two firms that oversee his investments, into new L.A. headquarters this year, the person said.

Mr. Thiel has long stood out in Silicon Valley for his vocal libertarianism, but he drew heavy criticism from many tech-industry peers—including fellow Facebook board member Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix Inc.—when he backed Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and later served as an adviser on his White House transition team.

Mr. Thiel has recently said tech culture has become increasingly intolerant of conservative political views since Mr. Trump’s election, an attitude he has said is intellectually and politically fraught.

“Silicon Valley is a one-party state,” Mr. Thiel said last month at a debate about tech and politics at Stanford University. “That’s when you get in trouble politically in our society, when you’re all in one side.”

His concerns are echoed by other conservatives in tech who say they feel alienated by the industry’s broad embrace of liberal values. A majority of the tech workers who responded to a recent survey by Lincoln Network, an advocacy group for conservatives and libertarians in the tech sector, described the cultural norms of their workplace as liberal. More than one-third of workers who identified as conservative said the clash between their views and those of those of colleagues kept them from doing their best work.