It is big news that billionaire Peter Thiel, who founded PayPal with Elon Musk and was an early Facebook investor, is forsaking Silicon Valley for Los Angeles.
Thiel, a libertarian who became controversial in Silicon Valley after he supported Donald Trump's candidacy for the presidency, is packing his bags because he is sick and tired of the rigidly enforced liberal politics of the Valley. CNN reports:
Citing what they called Silicon Valley's "sclerotic" culture and "conformity of thought," a source close to Thiel told CNNMoney that the investor would soon move to Los Angeles, where he will "focus on a number of new projects including creating a new media endeavor."
"L.A. is a better place to do that," the source said. "L.A. is also less out of touch and it's a better place to connect with the rest of the country."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to have asked Thiel to resign from the Facebook board because of the Trump connection, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, also on the Facebook board, called Thiel's support of Trump "catastrophically bad judgment."
Since then, the source close to him said, Thiel has grown more aware of what he views as liberal intolerance.
"Peter thinks the same network effects that concentrate talent in the Valley (adding value) are leading to conformity of thought (limiting the generation of new ideas)," the source said in an email. "SF is still important but the most exciting future tech developments may come outside of it. Peter also thinks the Valley has become too mono-cultural and the cost of living is making the whole area more sclerotic, less vital."
Here is what Thiel said in a talk at Stanford last month:
“Silicon Valley is a one-party state,” he said. “That’s when you get in trouble politically in our society, when you’re all in one side.”
Mr. Thiel's departure should be a warning to Silicon Valley. As the Wall Street Journal sums it up, the warning is that "hostility to half America isn't good business." The Wall Street Journal writes:
The news that billionaire investor Peter Thiel is decamping to Los Angeles to escape the stifling political conformity of Silicon Valley won’t shatter the republic, but pillars of the Valley would be wise to heed its warning. One reason the maestros of tech are becoming political targets is because they are seen as partisan and disdainful of middle America.
. . .
Americans who once thought of Silicon Valley as a jewel of U.S. innovation are likely to turn against these companies if they see them as relentless political enemies. Mr. Thiel is giving his tech friends good advice.
Before Silicon Valley tells Mr. Thiel to close the door on the way out, it might ponder his message.