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The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley's Pursuit of Power

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30 review for The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley's Pursuit of Power

  1. 4 out of 5

    Venky

    The Contrarian” is easily the most controversial book I have read thus far, this year. Racy, rambunctious and reverberating, Max Chafkin’s bold and no-holds barred portrayal of the billionaire investor Peter Thiel, is part polemical and part biographical. Whether or not the reader agrees with all that Chafkin has to say, she sure will remember the book long after she is done with it. The nub of the book is an unraveling of a complex and conflicting persona who seems to be a bundle of contradicti The Contrarian” is easily the most controversial book I have read thus far, this year. Racy, rambunctious and reverberating, Max Chafkin’s bold and no-holds barred portrayal of the billionaire investor Peter Thiel, is part polemical and part biographical. Whether or not the reader agrees with all that Chafkin has to say, she sure will remember the book long after she is done with it. The nub of the book is an unraveling of a complex and conflicting persona who seems to be a bundle of contradictions. A man at odds with his own philosophy, an opulent character not thinking twice before associating himself with odious characters, and a vengeful human being hell bent on destroying those who offend him deeply, Peter Thiel is one of Silicon Valley’s most iconoclastic and enigmatic protagonists. An open and overt critic of Big tech who has in great measure contributed to its growth, an avowed proponent of privacy who is responsible for the most dominating intrusion of privacy in the West, courtesy his surveillance company Palantir, and a vociferous advocate of free and democratic speech, who singularly buried the media outlet Gawker for amongst others ‘outing’ him, Chafkin’s Thiel is a hypocritic, high flying colossus inhabiting the rarified yet delicate atmosphere of power and politics. Thiel is most popularly and prominently known as the leader of the “PayPal Mafia”, a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since gone on to incorporate technology companies that include Tesla Inc. LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, Affirm, Slide, Kiva, YouTube, Yelp, and Yammer. The Mafia coterie reads like a who is who of the phalanx of technological innovation and incubation – Elon Musk, Max Levchin, Steve Chen, Reid Hoffman, Ken Howrey, Chad Hurley, Joe Lonsdale, Dave McClure, Luke Nosek, Russel Simmons, amongst others. An acolyte of Ayn Rand and her libertarian ideals, Thiel even started a “Thiel Fellows” scheme – his foundation would churn out $100,000 each to aspiring young boys and girls who would drop out of college and start their own companies. As Chafkin chillingly illustrates in his book, the “Thiel Fellows” was a hastily and haphazardly concocted scheme that did more harm than help. Many of the fellows either dropped out or became slaves to vices such as addiction and alcoholism. Peter Thiel, even though reviled by many is a man who commands a maniacal degree of reverence. As Chafkin informs his readers, his acolytes are collectively known by the phrase – ‘Thielverse’ – a separate Universe that is home to a pulsating, teeming and throbbing hotbed of fangirls and fanboys. A Stanford alumni, Thiel, scowled at the culture that was permeating and pervading the residence halls at the University. “Shirtless men and bikini-clad women, and music blasted from speakers during what should have been study hours. They drank; they smoked pot; they hooked up. Needless to say, Thiel did not partake of any of it.” It was at Stanford that Thiel honed, fine tuned and perfected his Conservatism. Joining the College Republicans, he discovered Ayn Rand, and Rene Girard. Girard’s concept of “mimetic desire” would go onto greatly influence Thiel in both his personal life as well as professional career. It was also at Stanford that Thiel first became obsessed about the concept of besting death by defeating the notion of aging. Introduced to the concept of ‘extropianism’ (“the idea that burgeoning technological advances would enable humans to live forever and the use of cryonics to freeze human brains for subsequent ‘reanimation’ using computers) by Barney Pell, a computer geek, Thiel went on to invest in companies experimenting with the science of aging. The master manipulator that Thiel is, he also knew exactly when, where and upon whom he could hedge his fortunes on. Initially backing the candidacy of Carly Fiorina for the Republican nomination, in the run up to the elections of 2016, he slowly but surely shifted his allegiance towards Donald Trump. He even gave a stirring talk at the Republican National Convention. He in fact managed to win Trump’s confidence to such a degree that he was made an integral part of the Trump transition team. During the Trump era, companies formed by Thiel devotees and backed by him in the form of a shareholding, made absolute hay. While Palantir made mega bucks from defense contracts floated by the US Armed Forces, Anduril, a start-up backed by Thiel landed a $5 million contract to provide equipment as part of a ‘virtual wall’ involving inexpensive cameras and other sensors, paired with Artificial Intelligence. When Mark Zuckerberg was accused of filtering away posts put up by conservatives on his Facebook Platform, he requested Thiel to help organise a meeting involving the most prominent amongst all “Tea Party Proponents” to help resolve the issue and to explain the motto and business ethos of Facebook. Thiel, by the way also happens to be one of the earliest backers of Facebook. No small testimony to the power and influence wielded by Thiel in both Silicon Valley and amongst politicians. It was such a political clout that egged on Thiel to audaciously propose the name of Balaji Srinivasan as the top pick to lead the FDA during the Trump regime. Srinivasan happens to be a cryptocurrency entrepreneur, a Stanford University lecturer and also a co-investor along with Thiel in a company formed by Curtis Yarvin (an American far-right blogger purveying extraordinarily radical views under the pen name Mencius Moldbug, once argued in a blog titles “Unqualified Reservations” that democracy in America represented a failed endeavour and hence must be replaced by oligarchy). Even Steve Bannon, the ultimate alt-right proponent, found Thiel’s pick of Srinivasan, inconceivable and inappropriate. Thiel also comes across in Chafkin’s work as a paranoid believer in the coming of an apocalypse. Owning a gargantuan property in New Zealand, popularly known as the “Plasma Screen House” overlooking the spectacular landscape surrounding Lake Wakatipu, Thiel secured a citizenship by subverting all the necessary rules and regulations. By making ‘strategic investments’ in a New Zealand based company, Thiel satisfied a rule which allowed anyone with more than $7 million in investment capital to stay on indefinitely in the country. But getting a citizenship also meant displaying a concrete intent to relocate to New Zealand and a lengthy stay. Using the weapon of contacts and lobbying, Thiel hobnobbed with the then Prime Minister of New Zealand and managed to get the citizenship despite the fact that he had resided within the territory of New Zealand for all of 12 days as against the mandatory tenure of 1,350 days. Thiel was also fascinated by the concept of “sea steading”. Patri Friedman, a self-styled anarcho-capitalist and the grandson of the most rabid free market economist of all time, Milton Friedman) founded the Sea steading Institute in San Francisco in 2008. Friedman managed to procure funding from Thiel for his endeavour. The Institute’s founding document articulated its vision in the following words, “to establish permanent, autonomous ocean communities to enable experimentation and innovation with diverse social, political, and legal systems”. Thiel was so enamoured with this concept that he was optimistic about “the nature of government is to change at a very fundamental level”. Thiel however, strategically exited Friedman’s venture by telling the latter that it would “have to stand on its own”. Thiel’s contrarianism could also be gathered and gleaned by his choice of literature. One of his favourite books was an abstract work, or a political screed rather penned by Venture Capitalist, James Dale Davidson, along with journalist William Rees-Mogg. Titled ‘The Sovereign Individual’, this book represented, in the words of Chafkin, “a cyber-libertarian manifesto that predicts the end of the nation state. An uncanny resemblance to the concept of sea steading. Chafkin’s book is full of astonishing revelations and jaw dropping tales of deceit and deception. It is the chronicle of a man whom the world finds it difficult to both deify and demonise. A man who has cleaved a chasm of opposites in terms of both thought and deed. A nihilist for some and a natty investor for the others, Thiel is a conundrum in himself, However Chafkin ends his book on a more mellow and optimistic note. At the time of its writing, Thiel and his partner Danzeisen are proud parents of two children. Maybe parenthood would induce a paradigm shift in the otherwise ruthless thought process of Peter Thiel. (The Contrarian – Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power by Max Chafkin is published by The Penguin Group and will be on sale from the 21st of September 2021)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    If Michael Moore wrote a biography... Chafkin is embarrassingly naive, disturbingly dishonest and shamefully cynical. I was really excited for this book and now am really looking forward to an adult tackling this book. Daniel Schulman has shown how a partisan opponent can write a compelling, even handed and honest biography of a foe (Sons of Wichita is a tremendous look at the Koch brothers from of all things a Mother Jones staffer!) and I wish Chafkin had a bit of that talent. Reading this book If Michael Moore wrote a biography... Chafkin is embarrassingly naive, disturbingly dishonest and shamefully cynical. I was really excited for this book and now am really looking forward to an adult tackling this book. Daniel Schulman has shown how a partisan opponent can write a compelling, even handed and honest biography of a foe (Sons of Wichita is a tremendous look at the Koch brothers from of all things a Mother Jones staffer!) and I wish Chafkin had a bit of that talent. Reading this book we learn next to nothing about Thiel as a businessman (or person) but we learn a hell of a lot about Chafkin. If you disagree with Max you are a "reactionary" (haven't seen that insult hurled this much since the Great Leap Forward. To Mr. Chafkin "libertarian" means xenophobia, closed borders and crony capitalism (in other words Chafkin has no idea what the word means). Thiel invented the idea of "exit" and "voice" (read Hirschman sometime, it's great!). Perhaps most ludicrous is Chafkin's blaming Thiel for the 1/6 insurgency. The Contrarian is a bizarre mess of an attempted hit job that fails on all accounts. It's so personal in its animus you have to wonder what the ax being ground here is. Two stars because I listened to the audiobook and Will Damron does a great job!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rahul Sibal

    Inaccurate hit piece. **edit - expanded due to questions, and messages by other readers. The basis of a biography should be facts, and not narrative. Facts cannot be changed for the narrative. Although, I am doubtful whether I should waste so much time writing a review, but consider the following: (a) The book portrays Nick Denton and Gawker as heroes, and victims of Peter's lawsuit. The book fails to clarify that Gawker published the sex tape of a famous wrestler without his consent. The wrestler Inaccurate hit piece. **edit - expanded due to questions, and messages by other readers. The basis of a biography should be facts, and not narrative. Facts cannot be changed for the narrative. Although, I am doubtful whether I should waste so much time writing a review, but consider the following: (a) The book portrays Nick Denton and Gawker as heroes, and victims of Peter's lawsuit. The book fails to clarify that Gawker published the sex tape of a famous wrestler without his consent. The wrestler didn't have the funds to sue and protect his rights himself. Peter agreed to fund him. May be he did it out of vengeance, but that was the right thing to do. The world is better of without a company that publishes sex tapes without consent.. This is not a free speech-first amendment issue. For a more balanced take, please read Ryan Holiday's book Conspiracies. (b) If Mussolini says that 2 +2 =4, and I agree with him, on that specific proposition, does that make me a fascist? Max appears to think so. It is surprising how such philisophers with such wide ranging, and ecletic works are classified as racists, and Nazis. Maybe, and thats a big maybe, some of their works might establish some support for right wing causes, but their majority, central works have nothing to do with racism. Girard's main thesis is the mimetic theory, which has nothing to do with racism or Nazis. Strauss' main argument is that due to societal censorship, philisophers are never explicit about their true meaning, and that there is always a hidden meaning to be understood. Peter merely agreed with these specific propositions, not with everything else. Does that make a him a racist? Refer back to the 2 +2 example. (c) As Paul Graham rightly says, the book failed to understand Peter's basis of being contrarian. In fact, as the atlantic rightly points out in its book review, its Peter contrarian philosophy which made him successful in his venture capital investments. Look at Stripe, AIRBNB. There is no mention of these invesments, because it goes against Chafkin's narrative. He only mentions investments which are attributable to Peter's friends, such as SpaceX (it was Luke Nosek who insisted that the Fund invest), to drive home his narrative that it is Peter's friends/colleguess who made the right decisions and not him. He fails to understand that maintaining contact, and listening to the advice of such colleagues is also an admirable quality. (d) The biggest factual inaccuracy is to blame Peter for Mark's handling of right wing views/propaganda on Facebook. Some say that Mark has a responsibility to censor/remove such information. Others say, that it affects free speech, and is censorship. I am not entering that debate. My point is merely this, that Mark's actions or inactions on this point cannot be attributed to Peter. As many sources, books, former employees of Mark will tell you, he is too independent to OBEY peter. Take Yahoo for example. Peter wanted Mark to sell, Mark strongly disagreed. (e) Or take the example of ageing. Peter's central thesis is that we should, unlike the stoics, not consider death as inevitable, and not adopt a defeatist attitude towards it. There is an entire subreddit - longevity" which espouses that ideology. Why should somebody be demonized for holding such a view? You can disagree, but them bring out substantial reasons as to why such views are harmful. (f) He interviews everyone who has a negative view about Peter, but no one who has a positive or balanced view about him (Paul Graham, Paypal Mafia such as Reid Hoffman, Keith Rabois, or even liberal venture capitalists, such as Brian Singerman, or several others. The only people interviewed are the ones who definitely dislike him. This is not called detailed research. The point I am making is that there are aspects about Peter that could be criticised. But the problem of today's Left (and I am Left wing myself), is that we don't research or understand the other/right wing person's views before debating (or rather name calling them). Max should have researched about him more. His analysis is too simplistic and narrative driven, and does not do justice to a personality as complex as Peter. Hopefully, in the future, there are more balanced biographies about Peter, out there.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    Well that was a huge waste of time and money... this isn't a biography of any sorts, it's a narrative-driven hit piece. What did Peter Thiel do to you Max? Echoing what others have said, incredibly disappointing since Thiel is such an enigmatic, interesting and complex character. Someone with a more balanced POV should definitely take a crack at this... Well that was a huge waste of time and money... this isn't a biography of any sorts, it's a narrative-driven hit piece. What did Peter Thiel do to you Max? Echoing what others have said, incredibly disappointing since Thiel is such an enigmatic, interesting and complex character. Someone with a more balanced POV should definitely take a crack at this...

  5. 4 out of 5

    James Beggarly

    Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Press for the ebook. Peter Thiel is one of the most influential, and enigmatic, leaders to come out of Silicon Valley. Secretive, but craving respect. Insightful enough to make PayPal a success and to put early money into Facebook, but not investing more funds into the company when given the chance (losing out on billions) and too petty to invest in Tesla because of past disagreements with Musk. Politically naive backing Ron Paul for president, but later seeing Tr Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Press for the ebook. Peter Thiel is one of the most influential, and enigmatic, leaders to come out of Silicon Valley. Secretive, but craving respect. Insightful enough to make PayPal a success and to put early money into Facebook, but not investing more funds into the company when given the chance (losing out on billions) and too petty to invest in Tesla because of past disagreements with Musk. Politically naive backing Ron Paul for president, but later seeing Trump for what he could do and backing him. This book gives you glimpses into this complicated man who seems like he wants all the money in the world and then recklessly mismanages it. Who seems to want to change the political system, but at other times wants to tear it all down. He seems to want to abolish college, but wants all these schools to respect him. Such an interesting book about a very angry and dangerous man.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rick Wilson

    Interesting but lacking direction in the last third. Definitely going to offend the Thiel fanboys. But I think if read with a pinch of critical thinking, this is one of the better books out there demystifying Thiels world. In my opinion, the mark of a good book hits a few things. On the lowest level a good book entertains, a better book will inform, and on the highest levels a great book changes who you are. This book is not great. But as an informative you into the world of Peter Thiel and the Interesting but lacking direction in the last third. Definitely going to offend the Thiel fanboys. But I think if read with a pinch of critical thinking, this is one of the better books out there demystifying Thiels world. In my opinion, the mark of a good book hits a few things. On the lowest level a good book entertains, a better book will inform, and on the highest levels a great book changes who you are. This book is not great. But as an informative you into the world of Peter Thiel and the entities he’s created it’s the best that I know out there. It’s informative and overall a well done, negatively oriented, unofficial biography of a fairly reclusive SV giant. A few years ago I worked at a company backed by one of Thiels partners. And as such, I’ve always been curious about Founders Fund, the Thiel fellowship, and follow a good number of current and former FF guys. I never really placed the ecosystem that they existed in until now. So in that way, this book is tops. What unfortunately I think was missed in some of the hatchet wielding is that there’s an interesting ethos attributed to Thiel, basically that he hates all government and authority, that Im not sure about. My cynical orientation is that he wants to deregulate so that private (Thiel backed) tech companies can regulate. But I think the impact there gets lost in this idea of Thiel as a maniacal anarchist. Anarchists don’t build fortunes. I think you go into reading this book knowing that it’s presenting a negative view of someone who typically doesn’t get much negative press. It seems like the author wrote this as an attempt to balance the scales, whether or not you think a book should do that is entirely up to you. I’d maybe stay away from this if you’re not familiar with the players and events as it’s going to be difficult to distinguish fact from hyperbole. I wish it was a bit more impartial so that the author could take a step back at the end and have a reasonable synthesis of the information presented.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    I only ever heard of Peter Theil as a sort of right wing odd duck. He is so much more and scarier than that. This book is the story not only of an unprincipled and powerful man. It's also kind of a tour through Silicon Valley of the time. I'm well versed in the origin stories of HP and Apple, but nothing I knew before prepared me for this. Great book. Very well written. I only ever heard of Peter Theil as a sort of right wing odd duck. He is so much more and scarier than that. This book is the story not only of an unprincipled and powerful man. It's also kind of a tour through Silicon Valley of the time. I'm well versed in the origin stories of HP and Apple, but nothing I knew before prepared me for this. Great book. Very well written.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Richard Zhu

    real ones read between the lines

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lucian

    Not a fanboy of Elon Musk or Peter Thiel but would highly recommend the book on Elon: "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future". Would not recommend this book. This book has some major flaws. The first flaw is the author fails to draw reasonable conclusions but keeps putting his narrative on the events anyways. The second is the author is either deliberately doing this mainstream leftist tribal signaling or has been immersed in it so long, he's just unaware he's doing it. The Not a fanboy of Elon Musk or Peter Thiel but would highly recommend the book on Elon: "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future". Would not recommend this book. This book has some major flaws. The first flaw is the author fails to draw reasonable conclusions but keeps putting his narrative on the events anyways. The second is the author is either deliberately doing this mainstream leftist tribal signaling or has been immersed in it so long, he's just unaware he's doing it. There's constant aside-commentary from the author with trivial philosophical political commentary. It's fine to frame up the different arguments of an issue (as it's relevant to the story), but to parenthetically constantly commentate on which source is "alt right" or "far right", or to remind the current climate change theory is gospel, tell you which person is "linked" to "ideas" about racist genocide according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, or any kind of good-evil insinuation, heavily detracts from it's credibility. He might not do it for pages, but when he does, it's pretty jarring. Makes you very skeptical of every detail in the book. The early part of the book takes partial sentence quotes of college freshmen debating politics in the dorms, and uses it to tag them for the rest of the book. It only leaves me wondering what their full arguments for the alleged statement was, or specifically what they were responding to, or if the context was simply not as serious as the author makes it. But the author doesn't provide this. He brings it up to simply make you think: evil and uncompassionate. Finally, there's this annoying repeating structure in the book. Each chapter (sometimes entertaining) is filled with a chain of events where it seems Thiel (or just a person loosely associated with Thiel because there's not enough content on Thiel) are stumbling through the insanely chaotic real world, doing whatever they can to not have their project implode, scrambling week to week, sometimes poorly executing on mediocre ideas -- and then the chapters always end with a weird recap instuating Thiel is some kind of Sauron character, carefully mapping his moves years ahead, and asking vague ominous rhetorical questions. The chapters are filled stories of consistent incompetence but the end tries to steer you towards a conclusion of evil genius. I think Thiel is mildly interesting, and don't have any high regard for him but this book is so non journalistic, you find yourself feeling defensive for a billionaire. Another example is the author takes a few chapters to establish Thiel as an antagonizing loner weirdo from grade school through and beyond law school who is thoroughly antisocial. But then glosses over the fact that when he starts PayPal, he's somehow able to draw on many friends to drop whatever they're doing and work with him full time. By the time that chapter comes around, his ability to be well-liked is portrayed as a weak person charismatically surrounding himself with yes-people. Again, I wonder if this is book is a reverse psychology troll in itself but I've probably been ingesting too much lame analysis from the author. For instance, Thiel established a fine dining/nightclub hybrid location in San Francisco after he got rich. The author suggests that this was a deviously crafted social power tool so that any financial or business meetings Thiel personally took, could be hosted at this venue. Or, he's a gay guy who likes to go out, eat well, who likes talking to people, and when he finally had millions of dollars to blow, he spent it in the way not that unsurprising. But I guess that would make him look mundane, impulsive, not scheming, and maybe incompetent (given they spent millions on it and supposedly the restaurant went under a few years later). To sell the book, we'll tell you a story about an evil genius. I give it two stars because it's barely readable if you ignore the political speed bumps. Another because it's a compilation of publicly available knowledge in one medium. Many of the things I hadn't heard that are present in the book, are unsubstantiated rumors such as Thiel, who's gay, attending a party where men wore assless chaps. Did Thiel have sex with any of them, the author wonders. We don't know, the author further reports. Great. Thanks for the information. I was surprised when I turned to the book jacket and saw the author was married. I started to assume part way through the book that the author was being motivated by a previous relationship with the subject because it comes off a fairly axe-grinding after a while.

  10. 5 out of 5

    CBW Librarian

    There are a lot of negative reviews of this book, and I think they are overblown. This book helps elucidate the power and influence that Peter Thiel wields behind the scenes of many political and technological movements. I feel the same way about this book that I did about 'Dark Money' by Jane Mayer. Power and money could be used for the greater good. Thiel and the Koch brothers use their influence for the good of themselves and their corporations. I'm grateful to this author for bringing Thiel' There are a lot of negative reviews of this book, and I think they are overblown. This book helps elucidate the power and influence that Peter Thiel wields behind the scenes of many political and technological movements. I feel the same way about this book that I did about 'Dark Money' by Jane Mayer. Power and money could be used for the greater good. Thiel and the Koch brothers use their influence for the good of themselves and their corporations. I'm grateful to this author for bringing Thiel's story to light.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    I've read a lot of biographies over the years, but it's hard to think of one where I've ended up disliking the *author* as much as this one. It seems that Mr. Chafkin is unable to go for more than a page without inserting his smug, conformist and banal political opinions into the narrative. Not only does he seem obsessed with putting a negative spin on everything Thiel has ever done or said, but often his description of events (even those tangential to Thiel) veers into pure distortion (to give I've read a lot of biographies over the years, but it's hard to think of one where I've ended up disliking the *author* as much as this one. It seems that Mr. Chafkin is unable to go for more than a page without inserting his smug, conformist and banal political opinions into the narrative. Not only does he seem obsessed with putting a negative spin on everything Thiel has ever done or said, but often his description of events (even those tangential to Thiel) veers into pure distortion (to give a single example, you would never know, based on his description of the Rolling Stone rape story, that the story had fallen apart and ended up costing the magazine millions in defamation suits). I'm concurrently reading a biography of Vladimir Lenin, and the author of that book treats his subject with more sympathy than Chafkin does with Thiel. Hopefully one day someone will write a biography of Peter Thiel that offers an unbiased perspective on the man, but this ain't it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Swystun

    After finishing the book, I questioned its point. The author delicately sets out to indict multi-billionaire Peter Thiel who is definitely on some spectrum, possesses a form of narcissism, and is only self-interested. Here is Chafkin’s thesis, “More than any other Silicon Valley investor or entrepreneur—more so even than Jeff Bezos, or Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or Zuckerberg himself—he has been responsible for creating the ideology that has come to define Silicon Valley: that t After finishing the book, I questioned its point. The author delicately sets out to indict multi-billionaire Peter Thiel who is definitely on some spectrum, possesses a form of narcissism, and is only self-interested. Here is Chafkin’s thesis, “More than any other Silicon Valley investor or entrepreneur—more so even than Jeff Bezos, or Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or Zuckerberg himself—he has been responsible for creating the ideology that has come to define Silicon Valley: that technological progress should be pursued relentlessly—with little, if any, regard for potential costs or dangers to society.” This form of progress produces “new forms of entertainment, new mediums of communication, and a better way to hail a taxi, but one that is also indifferent to the addiction, radicalization, and economic privation that have come with these advances.” The book catalogues Thiel’s big bets and vindictiveness. While called, The Contrarian, the author points out that contrarianism is a methodology. I was more interested in the man’s drive and belief systems. It his ideology that is dangerous given his influence in business and politics. Core to understanding Thiel is his “attempt to impose a brand of extreme libertarianism that shifts power from traditional institutions toward startup companies and the billionaires who control them.” Chafkin writes, “The libertarian success manual also argues that monopolies are good, that monarchies are the most efficient form of government, and that tech founders are godlike.” It is this examination of Libertarianism that makes the book worth reading. It actually goes a long way to explaining why Donald Trump, a PT Barnum-like huckster and buffoon, ever became president. While I believe Facebook and Twitter helped him win the 2016 election and that the Russians definitely mucked about, it seems to me it was a big mess of different interests that serendipitously slightly overlapped that propelled Trump to the White House. Trump is not a Republican but that party shares some of his beliefs and still believe they can use him to their advantage. Picture a photo of Trump with several overlapping circles on that image. Each circle represents a tribe or special interest group or cabal. These include racists, climate change deniers, xenophobic Americans, war hawks, Putin and the FSB, neoconservatives, 2-tier health advocates, anti-immigration pundits, second amendment gun enthusiasts, neo Nazis, misogynists, and more. These are not concentric circles. Each tribe is independent, most fiercely so. But at times, their goals overlap. As the saying goes, ‘politics makes strange bedfellows’ but, it is money that buys the sheets. Trump was a vehicle but not the engine. He was and remains, a stooge. A puppet ultimately controlled by a certain stripe of financial elite. Many were concerned that Trump was an autocrat heading towards dictator. I now believe he was being positioned as King Trump. A figurehead to sit atop a monarchy of sorts, one imperialistic in design. Thiel and other uber wealthy people like him would be the true power. Fiefdoms would pop up in the form of monopolies in key industries: finance, tech, pharma, agriculture, media, munitions. All would give allegiance. I know, I know. The endgame sounds very Game of Thrones. This theory also suggests a conspiracy of epic proportions. I can assure you I am not wearing a tinfoil hat. I do not picture a handful of Doctor Evils sitting around a big table in an evil lair. What I do see is the goal. Extreme libertarians desire an unregulated financial system. This would bring about a new order. It was under way during Trump’s presidency. Look at the bills and laws passed. See how he damaged longstanding democratic institutions. The judiciary, state, intelligence, and more have been diminished and damaged. The FBI alone is in tatters. Thiel would have viewed this with glee. All through the book, the author notes that many of Thiel’s contemporaries could not understand his support of Trump. For one thing, Thiel is gay and that hardly synchs with anything “Trump”. To me, it was crystal clear. As was Thiel’s eventual distancing from Trump when the reality star no longer aided his cause. Lord Palmerston famously said, “We have no permanent enemies, and no permanent friends, only permanent interests.” Thiel is interested in accumulating wealth, treating 99.9% of the population as serfs, paying no taxes, and acknowledging no other ideology but his own. Many wealthy and powerful people are sympathetic to these beliefs. If their circles overlap, jarring change will result. The most shocking part of this is, it will occur more by happenstance than diabolical design. Palmerston also said this, “You may call it combination, you may call it the accidental and fortuitous concurrence of atoms.” Extreme libertarianism is the unofficial third party in America. It is waiting and sometimes directing from the wings hoping for a fortuitous concurrence of atoms.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Tollemache

    Max Chafkin's " The Contrarian" serves as a pretty good biography of Peter Thiel tracing his rise from introverted son of German immigrants to conservative activist on the 1980s Stanford U campus to his successes in the realm of venture capital investing in such companies as PayPal, Facebook, SpaceX and Palantir. Chafkin does his best work on the biographical narrative and even his depictions of Thiel as being a rather unpleasant social outcast who made a fortune but has a knack for taking on e Max Chafkin's " The Contrarian" serves as a pretty good biography of Peter Thiel tracing his rise from introverted son of German immigrants to conservative activist on the 1980s Stanford U campus to his successes in the realm of venture capital investing in such companies as PayPal, Facebook, SpaceX and Palantir. Chafkin does his best work on the biographical narrative and even his depictions of Thiel as being a rather unpleasant social outcast who made a fortune but has a knack for taking on esoteric and, yes contrarian notions on politics, culture and even life extension. The book gets weaker when it tries to paint Thiel as a LEx Luther mastermind tweaking the wheels of power to get richer and change America. Trump may have become President with Thiel chipping in to help get him elected, but in no way was Trump a Thiel story. Most of Thiels other big political horse picks have been rather big duds. Chafkin also spends a ton of time arguing that Thiel, a supposed libertarian has used political lobbying as a means to grow the value of his stakes in Facebook, Palantir and SpaceX, but also claims that Thiel cashed out of these holdings at what in many cases were their post IPO lows (ie. Palantir and Facebook). I am not a big Thiel fan, but towards the end the book gets almost hysterical that there are obscure Thiel acolytes saying dumb stuff on Twitter.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    It's a shame. Chafkin has a talent for storytelling. Unfortunately, he also appears to have little journalistic integrity. This work is clearly a hit piece, missing no opportunity to impute evil intention wherever possible and note cosmetic inconsistencies in PT's beliefs—or, Chafkin's strawman of his beliefs, anyway. It's a shame. Chafkin has a talent for storytelling. Unfortunately, he also appears to have little journalistic integrity. This work is clearly a hit piece, missing no opportunity to impute evil intention wherever possible and note cosmetic inconsistencies in PT's beliefs—or, Chafkin's strawman of his beliefs, anyway.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    While this one was written like a thriller, I found it a tedious account of Peter Thiel who is a more complex figure than is portrayed. Ryan Holiday wrote a book about Gawker's lawsuit that Chafkin mentions in which Thiel is portrayed in a hero framework but Chafkin seems to ignore the argument that Gawker was a bad actor. There is an Amazon book review that is more detailed than mine that makes this critical point, Thiel's Christian worldview is hardly mentioned. Many highly respected people th While this one was written like a thriller, I found it a tedious account of Peter Thiel who is a more complex figure than is portrayed. Ryan Holiday wrote a book about Gawker's lawsuit that Chafkin mentions in which Thiel is portrayed in a hero framework but Chafkin seems to ignore the argument that Gawker was a bad actor. There is an Amazon book review that is more detailed than mine that makes this critical point, Thiel's Christian worldview is hardly mentioned. Many highly respected people think Thiel is an important thinker, and Chatkin writes fairly one-sided account of the man.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Gill

    The author's portrayal of Thiel is quite informative and interesting. But having said that the author has introduced quite a few of his anti-business and class conflict biases into the book. Also, he was a writer for Inc (for crying out loud). The comparisons to Soros whom I suspect Thiel idolized is funny. If Thiel had the capacity to admit mistakes and change his behavior he'd likely have been one of the greats (like Soros) but seems to not have mastered that crucial skill. And he seems to val The author's portrayal of Thiel is quite informative and interesting. But having said that the author has introduced quite a few of his anti-business and class conflict biases into the book. Also, he was a writer for Inc (for crying out loud). The comparisons to Soros whom I suspect Thiel idolized is funny. If Thiel had the capacity to admit mistakes and change his behavior he'd likely have been one of the greats (like Soros) but seems to not have mastered that crucial skill. And he seems to value perception more than reality in a lot of cases. His tendency to support identity politics, anti-immigration, neo-reactionary (dark enlightenment), eugenicist, racist, covid-denying ideas and people is utterly perplexing (and somewhat disturbing). How contrarian (and imaginative) a German immigrant gay man who is (quite possibly) a eugenicist and opposed to democracy and minority rights (sarcasm). All his former friends dishing on him was however quite depressing however. Author's assertion that Palantir and Anduril benefited from Thiel's connection to agent organge admin don't seem to make a lot of sense. Palantir was getting gov contracts before the agent orange administration. That Thiel used his influence to get them contracts seems to be a bridge too far. Even if there was interference the contracts in question are tiny. Also, the Author's assertions of a deal between agent orange and Zuck handled via Thiel, not very compelling. Why'd Trump need Thiel? Thiel's inclination to become a defense contractor can likely be compared to Howard Hughes' extreme interest in doing the same (he thought it'd give him power over the USG). There are quite a few pointed similarities between Thiel's paranoid antics and the actions of Charles Koch, they were both extremely fearful of American law enforcement taking action against them (Thiel with his tax antics and Koch with his "Koch Method" oil theft from Indian lands) - they both ended up taking actions they likely wouldn't otherwise have taken simply owing to extreme paranoia and fear of US Gov. Not justifying their actions but I just found it to be terribly interesting. If you want to read more about the similarities to the Koch situation I'd highly recommend reading the book "Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America" by Christopher Leonard which is a fairly good book. It's a bad idea to corner people like Charles Koch and Thiel (I guess in the case of Thiel he cornered himself with his own extremist tendencies). "Because of his track record for trying to hurt those who’ve attempted to uncover his secrets, many of the more than 150 former employees, business partners, friends, and others with whom I spoke over the course of hundreds of hours of interviews for this book insisted on anonymity." - How convenient. The PayPal boardroom coup which is presented in reasonable detail is quite entertaining. "Whereas Jobs viewed business as a form of cultural expression, even art, for Thiel and his peers it was a mode of transgression, even activism—a version of what he’d been trying to do at the Stanford Review." - What leads the author to believe this? Who knows. "It also fit with his appetite for power: Quantitative trading’s effects on the market are in most cases hard to parse; macro investors, because their bets tend to be large, involving entire economies, can move—and in rare cases, destroy—those economies. If you bet enough money on a recession as a macro investor, you may end up causing one." - This makes no sense whatsoever and is laughable. "Founders who followed the Thiel model weren’t just allowed to bend the normal rules of decency to protect their creations—they were expected to do so." - Preface to this was utterly ridiculous. "There would be a similar gulf between the Founders Fund’s marketing and reality in Thiel’s dealings with Elon Musk. While Thiel had been setting up his investment firms, Musk had set out to create an electric car that could compete head-to-head with the fastest gas powered vehicles. Improbably, Tesla Motors succeeded, and by 2006, it was giving out test drives in a prototype of its Roadster that could go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds." - Very deceptively presented so as to not acknowledge obvious facts (i.e. that Musk is not a founder of Tesla Motors). Clearly the author needed to satisfy one of his main sources (who had many axes to grind and wanted to create an alternative narrative). "As Aaron Sorkin’s script told it, the inspiration that led to Facebook had come to Zuckerberg in a sexist reverie after a breakup. Then he’d swirled in some intellectual property of questionable origin and produced something that swallowed the social fabric of an entire generation, replacing it with a sad, blinking Like button. That was how most film critics saw The Social Network, anyway, which made sense because it was, more or less, what had happened in real life. But it would be emphatically not how America’s budding technologists experienced the film. They would see it as a model to follow—and they would be led in that belief by Zuckerberg, and even more so by Thiel." - Nonsense! What is the author basing this argument on? Has some study confirmed this happened? "Instead, it appeared that Thiel had taken the side of Yarvin, a guy who’d defended slavery. Maybe this was what Thiel really believed too?" - Very fair (sarcasm). "Gawker’s editors had made the case easy for them. During depositions, former Gawker editor A. J. Daulerio had quipped sarcastically that he would have published a sex tape involving a child, as long as the child was at least five years old. Nick Denton had come off as glib and unrepentant, claiming that by publishing the sex tape Gawker was paying a compliment to Bollea by “humanizing” him. This led to a dramatic moment at the trial, when one of Bollea’s lawyers asked Denton to read the description from Gawker’s write-up of the sex act, which Gawker had called a “dutiful blowjob.” “Use your most humanizing tones,” Hogan’s lawyer instructed. Denton complied, reading the passage to the courtroom." - Real examples of free media right here (sarcasm). Steve Bannon seems like he was a big source of information. And seems like he had some axes to grind. Can't really trust what he's said here. "This was what Bannon and others saw as Thiel’s most important contribution to the Trump presidency: not the dozen or so appointees, but the ability to get the most powerful and respected businesspeople in America to put themselves in Trump’s orbit—even if they despised him privately." - What a ridiculous view. Alex Karp is portrayed as quite a nice person. I suspect he was a source for the author. "Nor had Thiel seemed to entirely buy into Zuckerberg’s conception of the company as a force that would eventually come to subsume much of the internet. He’d urged Zuckerberg to consider selling the company after Yahoo! had offered $1 billion, and began selling stock shortly after Zuckerberg flatly refused—“Eight-thirty seems about as good a time as any to turn down $1 billion,” he said at an early morning board meeting, cutting off any debate." - All the ways Thiel was kept from damaging his own interests (by others) both with Facebook and PayPal is quite hilarious. "But, of course, he’d fanned the flames of the culture wars throughout his career. He’d bet money on the stagnation by shorting the U.S. economy and investing in Canadian tar sands, rather than investing all his capital in American startups." - What a great crime (sarcasm). "Thiel has also contributed to a reactionary turn in our politics and society that has left the United States in a much more uncertain place than he found it in when he went into business for himself in the mid-1990s. He is a critic of big tech who has done more to increase the dominance of big tech than perhaps any living person. He is a self-proclaimed privacy advocate who founded one of the world’s largest surveillance companies. He is a champion of meritocracy and intellectual diversity who has surrounded himself with a self-proclaimed mafia of loyalists. And he is a champion of free speech who secretly killed a major U.S. media outlet." - Somewhat reasonable. "Another financial disrupter in Thiel’s portfolio, Stripe, is seeking to displace current payment networks with its own high-tech payments system, just as Thiel envisioned decades ago. Stripe is one of the most valuable privately held companies in the world, and its cofounder, Patrick Collison, is a power center in his own right, promoting a Thielian vision of technology progress through his own book publisher, Stripe Press." - Hahaha. Oh my what an off the mark statement. There's very little 'Thielian' abou PC.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maverick

    Half way through This book is a 200+ Huffington post/vice style hit piece. General idea is: Author = Good, Peter Thiel = Bad. It’s funny though, because many of the things/stories attempting to paint Peter in a bad light are fascinating. He’s a psycho competitive, Ayn Randian, ruthless businessman. I’m giving it 2 stars because some of the anecdotes are generally interesting. It’s a shame we couldn’t get a more nuanced, adult take on Peter.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Seth Fiegerman

    An important book that not only offers a window into the life and mind of one of the most influential figures in the tech industry but also helps explain how a mix of inflammatory thinkers, fringe far right pundits and political figures, tech money and tech platforms helped pave the way for the rise of Trump and Trumpism — with Thiel one of the central figures behind all those forces.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Don't waste your time or money. Don't waste your time or money.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Interesting biography, albeit this boek really doesn't count as a real biography as the author is mostly - especially the second half - pushing his own political agenda. This makes for a compelling case, but to serve the authors agenda he leaves out key elements of the persona and character of Thiel: 1) Thiel is influenced by Rene Girard (his mentor) and especially his ideas: mimetic desire, conflict, scapegoating, the cover-up. Where is an thorough analysis of this in the book? You can understan Interesting biography, albeit this boek really doesn't count as a real biography as the author is mostly - especially the second half - pushing his own political agenda. This makes for a compelling case, but to serve the authors agenda he leaves out key elements of the persona and character of Thiel: 1) Thiel is influenced by Rene Girard (his mentor) and especially his ideas: mimetic desire, conflict, scapegoating, the cover-up. Where is an thorough analysis of this in the book? You can understand Thiel better by understanding his 'religion', which David Perell beautifully explained in a long-form essay. 2) The Gawker case. The author disregards the thorough work of Ryan Holiday. But in his great book Conspiracy he got to talk to Thiel and all the actors involved. This makes for a more balanced book and shows that Denton was also wrong, not some sort of journalistic freedom fighter. Why is it okay to leak sex tapes? The moral implications of the kind of journalism Gawker did are not discussed. 3) Thiel famously said to Ryan Holiday: 'Contrarians may be mostly wrong, but when they get it right, they get it really right'. This basic point about contrarians Chafkin misses. Instead of focusing on the failures, it is therefore more relevant to focus on the accomplishments and the societal trend that goes with it. For example, Airbnb (housing crisis), Stripe (digital / globalized payment system) and Palentir (military-industrial complex). What Chafkin on the other hand does very well is make the distinction between the political and entrepreneurial Thiel. The latter I explained above is not complete, but the political is. And personally I am - and so should everybody else - be appalled by his political agenda and this is due to the great research by the author. To understand Thiel even better: read his own work first (Zero to One) and then read Ryan Holiday's book Conspiracy. After this: start with this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Extremely interesting—deeply researched, compelling, and fresh. Why did a Thiel bio take this long? Perhaps best summarized by Elon Musk's and Thiel's cross-evaluations after their Paypal debacle: Thiel thinks Musk is a poser and a fraud, while Musk thinks Thiel is a sociopath. The book emphasizes that Thiel is a financier rather than a tech visionary (like Musk), a loner, and a mystery. Book definitely takes a position, anti-Thiel to a degree that's borderline misleading, e.g. it presents the T Extremely interesting—deeply researched, compelling, and fresh. Why did a Thiel bio take this long? Perhaps best summarized by Elon Musk's and Thiel's cross-evaluations after their Paypal debacle: Thiel thinks Musk is a poser and a fraud, while Musk thinks Thiel is a sociopath. The book emphasizes that Thiel is a financier rather than a tech visionary (like Musk), a loner, and a mystery. Book definitely takes a position, anti-Thiel to a degree that's borderline misleading, e.g. it presents the Thiel Fellowships as a total failure for the participants, with no mention of some of their astonishing successes (Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum, Austin Russell and Luminar, etc.). Keen to tarnish Thiel by association, especially by dismissing his associates as "controversial" (a strikingly establishmentarian critique, applied scattershot both to right-wingers and ambitious philanthropists). Also very prone to conspiracy theories; but in fairness, Thiel is very prone to conducting conspiracies.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Simone Scardapane

    If you write a book about a man who has made of hiding his private persona a distinguishing trait, you don't have a biography, you have an investigative piece. Like most investigative pieces, it has an inner bias and narrative (in this case, clearly biased against Thiel himself), but the book itself is wonderfully written, accurate in its reporting, and thorough. It's a great investigation on a side of Silicon Valley which is generally hidden from view, made of flirts with the alt-right, all sor If you write a book about a man who has made of hiding his private persona a distinguishing trait, you don't have a biography, you have an investigative piece. Like most investigative pieces, it has an inner bias and narrative (in this case, clearly biased against Thiel himself), but the book itself is wonderfully written, accurate in its reporting, and thorough. It's a great investigation on a side of Silicon Valley which is generally hidden from view, made of flirts with the alt-right, all sorts of libertarian techno bros, some cynicism, and *a lot* of venture capital money. Definite worth reading. Also, Thiel does come out as a kind of genius in his own way despite all, prescient when crises come, always able to profit and hedge on his bets, never content of sitting himself out. Not his fault if so many people are drawn to that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hassaan Naeem

    Good read for the informative pieces about Mr.Thiel’s earlier years as well as the more recent years involving the Trump presidency, Chafkin does a great job at aptly summarizing and expanding these timelines. However…there is a clear anti-Thiel agenda throughout the entire piece, and depending on how one personally views Thiel, one may or may not like this. Most issues discussed, have valid arguments from both sides, and although Chafkin reverts to this near the end, it is not presented as such Good read for the informative pieces about Mr.Thiel’s earlier years as well as the more recent years involving the Trump presidency, Chafkin does a great job at aptly summarizing and expanding these timelines. However…there is a clear anti-Thiel agenda throughout the entire piece, and depending on how one personally views Thiel, one may or may not like this. Most issues discussed, have valid arguments from both sides, and although Chafkin reverts to this near the end, it is not presented as such throughout the read. If you are a so called ‘Thiel acolyte’ you probably will not enjoy the angle taken. Nonetheless, I found this an informative read. This should be re-written down the line in an Isaacson manner.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    The first half of the book is a fairly lightly researched book about Peter Thiel; Wikipedia style collection of well known facts. The second half is “orange man bad”, but through a lens of Peter Thiel’s relationship to Republican politics and his mortal sin of being a homosexual who isn’t a leftist. A hit piece which doesn’t really have enough force to really hit. A fluff hit piece? Nerf piece? There really should be a good Peter Thiel book which more thoroughly explores his business and political The first half of the book is a fairly lightly researched book about Peter Thiel; Wikipedia style collection of well known facts. The second half is “orange man bad”, but through a lens of Peter Thiel’s relationship to Republican politics and his mortal sin of being a homosexual who isn’t a leftist. A hit piece which doesn’t really have enough force to really hit. A fluff hit piece? Nerf piece? There really should be a good Peter Thiel book which more thoroughly explores his business and political dealings, but especially philosophy. Something like the Ashlee Vance book about Elon Musk.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason Zhao

    Fascinating dive into Peter Thiel's rise to power in tech, politics, and finance. Too bad it's only a notch above a hit piece in terms of its generosity towards Thiel's motivations. Chafkin should lay clear his political orientation before using it to implicitly judge Thiel's character; Thiel's politics and moral character are conflated without prior explanation. Chafkin does effectively outline the contradictions between Thiel's purported ideological affiliation and his business ventures, but I Fascinating dive into Peter Thiel's rise to power in tech, politics, and finance. Too bad it's only a notch above a hit piece in terms of its generosity towards Thiel's motivations. Chafkin should lay clear his political orientation before using it to implicitly judge Thiel's character; Thiel's politics and moral character are conflated without prior explanation. Chafkin does effectively outline the contradictions between Thiel's purported ideological affiliation and his business ventures, but I would have liked to see more attempts at resolving these contradictions before settling for the label of "power-hungry." Indeed this is probably the case, but didn't we already know that? Most biographies are written about subjects who are unusually ambitious: the challenge and art of biography is in uncovering the source of that craving.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brad Rees

    This is the first dive I’ve taken into Thiel’s biography, and I don’t know how much is actually true. But it’s an interesting narrative, and demonstrates that Theil seems to be more interested in power than in his moral principles.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rj

    Super interesting read on Peter Thiel. Somewhat conspiratorial, but very enlightening.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ran

    It could be a good book if the author didn’t spend so much time on the history of Stanford, many not interesting details about the area Peter was born, or so many other details about a guy in Stanford named X (which is nobody today). Almost like someone tried to fill up the book to have more pages. It is PETER THIEL, write about him and only him. I skipped many paragraphs with anger because I didn’t come to learn about the history of x.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brian Katz

    This was an interesting book. I’m certain that if Peter wrote this it would be very different as the author likely had some biases against him. I recently read Conspiracy, by Ryan Holiday. Which is the story about how Peter destroyed Gawker. I enjoyed that book immensely as Gawker was out of control and deserved to be bankrupted. Out of the gate, in this book, when the author focused on Peter’s chess playing at an early age, I knew intuitively much more than I had about Peter. It was simple to c This was an interesting book. I’m certain that if Peter wrote this it would be very different as the author likely had some biases against him. I recently read Conspiracy, by Ryan Holiday. Which is the story about how Peter destroyed Gawker. I enjoyed that book immensely as Gawker was out of control and deserved to be bankrupted. Out of the gate, in this book, when the author focused on Peter’s chess playing at an early age, I knew intuitively much more than I had about Peter. It was simple to connect all of the moves he made to take down Gawker as his opponent was woefully incapable of seeing the trap that was set or how to respond. Each move Nick Denton made caused the knott to tighten around his neck. The focus of the book was all of the various ventures that Peter has been engaged in through out his professional career. If found some of it interesting and some of it wanting. But it did help to paint the picture of who Peter is. I found the investment side of this fascinating especially about his relationship with Zuckerberg and Zuckerberg’s willingness to continue that relationship with Peter even though it might have cast Zuckerberg / Facebook as a sympathizer of Republicans. This shows you have vitally important Zuckerberg thought of Peter’s business advise. Very impressive. It was interesting to learn how Peter used his political connections to further his business interests, which is a classic refrain in our society. There was an interesting maxim contained in the book that tells all about Silicon Valley: that technological progress should be pursued relentlessly, with little, if any, regard for potential costs or dangers to society. But ultimately, no matter how the author may have sought to paint Peter (lawyer, activist, politician, mentor, etc…) or view his accomplishments, the deep down truth is that his chess playing skills are best used as a venture capitalist - using his ability to see how a new idea can disrupt the current state of our society and how to profit from it. He is a visionary in that regard which to me is uncontested. All of the other stuff is just noise.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roger Royse

    inaccurate and one sided from the very beginning. I had hoped for something more impartial. This is what passes for journalism these days

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