Peter Thiel, managing partner at The Founders Fund, has been the target of some harsh gossip in recent months, much of it coming from the gossip site Valleywag, which has variously painted him as a misogynistic weirdo, under the sway of an anti-immigrant organization and a tax cheat. Clearly, Thiel, who has never retaliated against the accusations, reached a turning point earlier this month.
Asked to comment on the coverage he has received, Thiel hesitated, sighed and said, “I’m not sure I should answer this.” Then he let loose.
“I don’t feel that I’m being unequally targeted, but it’s disturbing to me that there are people who are so angry out there,” he said. “Maybe I’m wrong and did something terrible to them, but I’m not particularly flattered by being targeted. I actually think it’s sort of the psychology of a terrorist, where it’s purely destructive and that Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda.”
Does Thiel really think Valleywag is like a terrorist group?
“Yes, in that it scares everybody,” he said. “It’s terrible for the Valley, which is supposed to be about people who are willing to think out loud and be different. I think they should be described as terrorists, not as writers or reporters. I don’t understand the psychology of people who would kill themselves and blow up buildings, and I don’t understand people who would spend their lives being angry; it just seems unhealthy.”
Wolpert Braves the Bahamas
Richard Wolpert is once again getting ready to set off on a long WaveRunner journey. But this time, it’s for a good cause.
Wolpert, who currently sources deals for digital media investor The Mail Room Fund, announced last month that in early June he would take off for a week-long solo WaveRunner adventure in the Bahamas. Specifically, Wolpert says his trip will include an initial 80-mile-long crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to the Bahamas, a few days of jet skiing through and around the Bahamas, and then back home.
Wolpert is doing the trip to raise money and awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Camp Oasis, the Pediatric IBD Center at Cedars Sinai Hospital, and the IBD Support Foundation. Wolpert, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when he was 13, has been active with all the organizations for several years. He hopes to raise $50,000.
“I feel that I owe a lot of my success to Crohn’s Disease,” Wolpert says. “At a young age it taught me that life does have obstacles. With perseverance, hard work, optimism, and the help of family and friends, you can thrive.”
In July 2008, Wolpert, who has ridden jet skis for more than two decades, celebrated his 46th birthday by going on a 450-mile round-trip journey off the California coast from Channel Islands Harbor to the U.S.-Mexico border. The trip took five days. He says his Bahamas trip will be unlike any WaveRunner ride he has every taken.
IVP Poses Challenge
Institutional Venture Partners has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging other VC firms to compete in the Silicon Valley Triathlon on June 21 at Almaden Lake Park in San Jose, Calif. IVP Senior Associates Shiyan Koh and Elizabeth Weil and Associate Michael McLean will compete as a team in the triathlon, which features a swim of about three-fourths of a mile, a 25-mile bike ride and a run of just over six miles.
IVP spokeswoman Gina Bauman says the firm thought it would be fun to kick off the summer with some friendly competition. She says that a number of venture professionals from other firms have expressed interest in participating in the race. Among those who may compete is John Hall, founder and managing director of Horizon Ventures in Los Altos, Calif.
“There are number of great athletes among VCs, and by nature they are all very competitive,” Bauman says.
Minor Jockeying for Racetracks
Halsey Minor, founder of CNet Networks and Minor Ventures, is about to wager a substantial portion of his net worth on the racetrack. But the venture he has in mind relies more on modernizing an industry than on picking the winning horse.
Dismayed that many of the nation’s most storied horseracing venues are in danger of imminent closure, the 44-year-old entrepreneur and racing fan is investigating a plan to purchase several tracks from Magna Entertainment. The Washington Post reported that Minor is looking to buy all of the bankrupt company’s properties, which include the well-known Santa Anita, Pimlico and Laurel racetracks.
Halsey tells the Post that growing up in Charlottesville, Va., that “thoroughbred racing and horses were part of my life.” His mother was a breeder and trainer of English show jumpers, and he had a pony in the yard at age 5. The first business he started was painting fences at horse farms.
VC Ekes Out Win
Scott Murphy, managing director of Advantage Capital, has won a hotly contested Congressional election in upstate New York.
In a recount, Murphy beat the Republican candidate, state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, by a margin of 726 votes, according to an official vote count released in mid-May.
Call it money well-spent. Campaign finance reports filed April 15 with the Federal Election Commission show Murphy spent about $500,000 more than Tedisco before March 31. Murphy spent $1.8 million during the two-month campaign, while Tedisco spent $1.3 million.