Just last week, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States of America in an electoral upset and unexpected victory against his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In his first week as President-Elect, Trump started forming his transition team. On Friday, he officially added Peter Thiel to the team. What does this mean for the tech community, and specifically Bitcoin advocates?
Peter Thiel’s Unique History in Politics
To some, Silicon Valley is a hotspot for liberals. However,Peter Thiel, Co-Founder of PayPal and venture capitalist, stands out. Thiel recently joined the Republican Party after identifying as a libertarian for the majority of his adult life. He not only identifies with Republican and libertarian causes but contributes financially as well. Thiel is also known for his early angel investment in Facebook back in 2004 and his role in Founder’s Fund, which has investments in companies including Lyft and Airbnb.
Thiel took a larger step onto the US political scene this summer when he addressed the Republican Party Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. You can watch his full speech here.Perhaps Thiel’s most noteworthy quote addressed Donald Trump’s outsider stance on politics. Thiel stated, “I am not a politician, but neither is Donald Trump.”
Thiel Invests in Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology
In 2013, Thiel made a grand entrance into the Bitcoin space through his early seed investment in BitPay, a global payment processor. PayPal also partnered with BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin to enable Bitcoin payment acceptance for PayPal’s Payment Hub. Thiel is known for his fellow’s program. In 2014, Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, was selected as a fellow. Thiel fellows include Gary Le of Zcoin and Joey Krug of Augur who are working on blockchain related projects. Thiel’s Fellows Program not only provides funding for these projects but also provides opportunities for mentorship.
Thiel sees the merit of Bitcoin but also provides a mixed perspective on bitcoin as a mechanism for payment.
In 2015 at the Buttonwood Summit he stated:
“PayPal had these goals of creating a new currency. We failed at that, and we just created a new payment system. I think bitcoin has succeeded on the level of a new currency, but the payment system is somewhat lacking. It’s very hard to use, and that’s the big challenge on the bitcoin side.”
Thiel has repeatedly expressed the need for solid infrastructure around bitcoin as a currency. It will be interesting to see how he will help shape the team who will advise the newly elected president on tech policy and perhaps even cryptocurrency.
So what do you think? Do you view Peter Thiel’s role on the presidential transition team as a positive for Bitcoin and blockchain technology? Do you view the Trump administration as open to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Flickr, WSJ.com, Wikimedia Commons