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Peter Thiel is an American businessman, philanthropist, political activist, and author. The PayPal cofounder and Facebook's first professional investor was ranked number four on the Forbes Midas List of 2014, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, and number 246 on the Forbes 400 in 2016, with a net worth of $2.7 billion.
Thiel was born in Frankfurt and holds German citizenship. He moved with his family to the United States as an infant and spent a portion of his upbringing in Africa before returning to the US and attending San Mateo High School. He studied philosophy at Stanford University, graduating with a BA in 1989. He then went on to the Stanford Law School and received his JD in 1992. After graduation, he worked as a judicial clerk for Judge James Larry Edmondson, a securities lawyer for Sullivan & Cromwell, a speechwriter for former US Secretary of Education William Bennett, and as a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse prior to founding Thiel Capital in 1996. He then cofounded PayPal in 1999 and served as chief executive officer until its sale to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
After eBay's acquisition of PayPal, he founded Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund. He launched Palantir Technologies, an analytical software company, in 2004 and continues to serve as its chairman as of 2016. His Founders Fund, a venture capital firm, was launched in 2005 along with PayPal partners Ken Howery and Luke Nosek. Earlier, Thiel became Facebook's first outside investor when he acquired a 10.2% stake for $500,000 in August 2004. He sold the majority of his shares in Facebook for over $1 billion in 2012 but remains on the board of directors. He also cofounded Valar Ventures in 2010 and operates as its chairman, cofounded Mithril Capital, of which he is investment committee chair, in 2012, and has served as a partner in Y Combinator since 2015.