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The four most interesting things Peter Thiel said today in New York

“I thought supporting Trump was one of the least contrarian things I ever did.”

left to right: President Donald Trump, Founders Fund’s Peter Thiel and Apple CEO Tim Cook at Trump’s technology executives meeting
Peter Thiel between Donald Trump and Tim Cook
Drew Angerer / Getty

Peter Thiel sharply criticized Silicon Valley culture and defended why exactly he was leaving it in an interview on Thursday that touched on all of the investor’s most controversial beliefs.

Those opinions have made Thiel, making a rare public appearance at the Economic Club of New York, one of the most closely observed venture capitalists in tech. Here are the highlights of what he told Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo.

On moving to Los Angeles

Thiel said he was eager to escape “herd-like thinking” and “lemming-like behavior” of Silicon Valley, and so he was “dialing it back one level” by moving to Los Angeles.

Thiel said that his political alienation after supporting Donald Trump was not a primary driver of his move, but he did continue to bellow against tech’s liberalism. Silicon Valley, he said, “has become almost a one-party state. If you have something that’s 85-15 as a split, that’s lopsided but understandable. If you have something where the apparent split is 99-to-1, where you have that sort of near-unanimity, that’s not because the 99 percent have figured out the truth. That’s where you’re dealing with something that’s almost totalitarian.”

On Trump’s performance, trade policy and reelection chances

Thiel largely declined to spell out his frustrations with Trump.

He defended his decision: “I thought supporting Trump was one of the least contrarian things I ever did. Half the country supported him.”

He defended his expectations: “It’s very hard to get things to work in this country,” he said. “Obviously there are all sorts of things that are somewhat disappointing — and at the same time, I don’t know how much one can expect.”

He defended Trump’s newly instituted tarrifs, even though Thiel is a noted libertarian. He said he felt that too many free-traders are “too dogmatic and too doctrinaire.”

And he defended Trump’s reelection chances, saying he would win but repeatedly with the caveat of “if he runs.”

On Gawker vs. Facebook

Thiel sits on the board of one media company — Facebook — but helped shutter another — Gawker — by funding the lawsuit that destroyed it.

Facebook, of course, lives on users forfeiting some of their privacy. Gawker obtained a private sex tape that motivated the Thiel-funded lawsuit. How does he reconcile that?

“What Gawker did vis-a-vis what the big tech companies are doing is very different,” he said. “If you voluntarily give the information, that’s quite different from it being illegally obtained in a privacy-violating way.”

On cryptocurrencies

Thiel is a prominent early backer of cryptocurrencies, with his venture capital firm, Founders Fund, holding crypto assets.

Thiel said crypto effectively served as a “hedge against the whole world falling apart.” But interestingly, Thiel said he was bearish on currencies that were not bitcoin.

“I would be long bitcoin and neutral to skeptical of just about everything else at this point,” he said. “My view is that there’s going to be one cryptocurrency that will be the equivalent of gold.”

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