A biography of venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel, the enigmatic, controversial and hugely influential power broker who sits at the dynamic intersection of tech, business and politics
Since the days of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s, no industry has made a greater global impact than Silicon Valley. And few individuals have done more to shape Silicon Valley than billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel. From the technologies we use every day to the delicate power balance between Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington, Thiel has been a behind-the-scenes operator influencing countless aspects of contemporary life. But despite his power and the ubiquity of his projects, no public figure is quite so mysterious.
In the first major biography of Thiel, Max Chafkin traces the trajectory of the innovator’s singular life and worldview, from his upbringing as the child of immigrant parents and years at Stanford as a burgeoning conservative thought leader to his founding of PayPal and Palantir, early investment in Facebook and SpaceX, and relationships with fellow tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt. The Contrarian illuminates the extent to which Thiel has sought to export his values to the corridors of power beyond Silicon Valley, such as funding the lawsuit that bankrupted the blog Gawker to strenuously backing far-right political candidates, including Donald Trump for president.
Eye-opening and deeply reported, The Contrarian is a revelatory biography of a one-of-a-kind leader and an incisive portrait of a tech industry whose explosive growth and power is both thrilling and fraught with controversy.
[Chafkin] does an excellent job of unpicking the disparate elements of the Thiel mythology -- David Runciman, London Review of Books [A] deeply reported and gripping biography . . . It offers essential insights for anyone who wants to understand what Silicon Valley's global ascendance has wrought-and it's a really great read -- Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better The Contrarian is much more than a consistently shocking biography of Peter Thiel . . . It's also a disturbing history of Silicon Valley that will make you reconsider the ideological foundations of America's relentless engine of creative destruction -- Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store and Amazon Unbound A captivating, incisive, rigorously reported examination of Silicon Valley's most mysterious and controversial powerbroker -- Joshua Green, author of Devil's Bargain In The Contrarian, Max Chafkin takes us on a fascinating journey into the life and mind of one of the most influential, and least understood, figures in business and politics' -- Sheelah Kolhatkar, author of Black Edge A dogged reporter and an entertaining writer, [Chafkin] weaves an epic tale filled with startling ambition, cold calculation, and a large helping of contrarian-and contradictory-opinions -- Emily Chang, author of Brotopia
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