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Y Combinator Cuts Ties with Peter Thiel After Ending Part-Time Partner Program (buzzfeed.com)
185 points by minimaxir 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 147 comments

Can we save ourselves a really long, pointless political argument?

They ended the entire part-time-partner program, and transitioned some of the part-timers to advisor roles. Thiel is one of multiple part-timers not to become an advisor.

You are not going to get an answer, or more "context", from YC about the political implications of this change. No matter how many times you ask and how carefully you word the questions, you're not going to pry loose any first-hand drama from this situation.

I'm happy Thiel's no longer involved with YC. I'm disappointed that it took this long, but we can't always get what we want. There are people here that disagree with me on both those things. We all knew that about each other. We probably don't need to beat it to death.

How can you say "can we save ourselves a really long, pointless political argument" and end your post with a divisive political opinion (that you think people with opposing viewpoints should be silenced)? You're literally inviting the debate that you're calling long and pointless. Or perhaps you just want to only share your opinion without others having the same opportunity, so you can have the last word?

Personally, I think Trump is reprehensible. I also think that silencing people with opposing political viewpoints is dangerous and reprehensible. I don't always agree with Peter Thiel politically, but I would happily do business with him. It's really not our place as the internet lynch-mob to interfere with Peter's role in the startup community because of his political views. Note, @sama said as much when the whole thing went down.

> How can you say "can we save ourselves a really long, pointless political argument" and end your post with a divisive political opinion

Probably because the “divisive” opinion is on a different question than the on tptacek sees as pointless, which he was pretty express about: the pointless argument is about the political meaning of Thiel not being a partner. And he's right, that's not going to get an answer and any argument about it is pointless.

The “divisive” opinion about whether or not it's a good thing that that relationship ended is, at a minimum, not pointless in the same way (it's likely to be fruitless in the way that arguments that rest in clashes of fundamental values are, but that's a different concern.)

> It's really not our place as the internet lynch-mob to interfere with Peter's role in the startup community because of his political views.

You are free to choose to restrain the means in which you apply your free speech and association rights based on this narrow, misguided, elitist view of the role of the hoi polloi, of course.

> Note, @sama said as much when the whole thing went down.

I'm entirely unsurprised that Altman would say no external party of should question YC decisions on political (or, heck, any other) grounds, but I'm not sure why you think noting that he did so adds any weight to your argument.

I was agreeing with the begining of your post, but

> You are free to choose to restrain the means in which you apply your free speech and association rights based on this narrow, misguided, elitist view of the role of the hoi polloi, of course.

Is where I burst out laughing and moved on.

I think tptacek was trying to discourage the thread from devolving into analysis of YCombinator’s politics (which we don’t really have any useful information on either way), rather than from devolving into political discourse in general. Of course it’s going to revolve into political discourse generally; you may as well lock the thread if you don’t want that.

I get the sense from his speeches during the campaign that Thiel believed Trump would act more relaxed and calm down after he won and that it was at the time a lot theatrics of campaigning. If it’s true Thiel’s cooled on him privately that would make sense because his bet didn’t worked out, it’s probably worse for him than losing hundreds of millions on a startup investment because of the social capital lost since people hold their political views so dear.

Yeah you have to love people who construct the rules of a conversation up front so that they can be the only person who is right.

that you think people with opposing viewpoints should be silence

That's a funny way of phrasing "people who strongly disagree with each other should be able to disassociate from each other without being attacked for doing so".

It's not enough to say your opponents are dumb and wrong, any more. No, they're so dumb and so wrong that a conversation is pointless. Nobody ever changes their mind on anything, anyway, right?

This is a repugnant, defeatist, and just plain wrong view of the world. And it's held almost universally by the thought leaders of this forum.

It's essentially pointless because people get too emotionally involved in ideological arguments on the internet, causing themselves to feel attacked when people disagree with them. When this happens, people shut down, stop thinking critically, only acknowledging what they already agree with. The debate then either devolves as people dig their heels in and begin name-calling, or abruptly stops as one side simply refuses to cede a point. When there is a ratings system attached to the thread, the side which agrees with the majority ideology will inevitably "win" as other debaters come out of the woodwork to downvote and post 50 variations of the same well-tread rebuttal. I've seen the pattern so much that I'm not sure I can consider even half those sorts of discussions as productive. It mostly doesn't matter what ideology is the "generally accepted" side, and which one is the "outsider"; the wooden debate pattern will be present. I think some people are just tired of seeing two people talking past each other just to puff chests.

This argument assumes that the point of person A responding to person B is for person A to convince person B, specifically, at that specific moment in time of the specific details of their specific argument.

1) That's not how persuasion works.

2) It's not how ideas or the stubborn humans who hold them work.

3) The point is not, in fact, to convince that one particular person at that one particular moment in time. If that's your goal, then I might suggest that a phone call would be more appropriate. These are public arguments. Read by the public. They're useful far beyond the participants.

4) Minds change over time, rarely in the moment. If your standard for success is immediate agreement, then you've established an unrealistic (and misguided) goal. You'll never get that. But, again, that's OK, because that's not what you should be shooting for in the first place.

5) Argument is as much for you as it is for the person you're trying to convince. Working through objections is good for you. You impoverish yourself when you take this away.

6) People seem to think it's a really strong argument to point out that people get mad or emotional during debates, but I have no idea why I'm supposed to care. So a faceless, nameless avatar that I'll never meet showed too much emotion in an online debate? I have no idea why anybody thinks that's worth mentioning in any context. It's definitely not a persuasive argument for nuking all debate.

It's no wonder so many people have such a dim view of online argument, if your comment represents the conventional thinking on it (and it does).

Just to put a cap on this, if tptacek wants to avoid "a really long, pointless political argument," then he should close his browser and take a walk. We're not running out of bits on the internet. There's room for all of it. If these conversations bore or otherwise bother you, then don't participate.

It's the suggestion that you know what's best for me, too, that bristles.

This thread itself is a great example of how this conversation was _not_ pointless. Intellectually interesting points made on both sides about the point of debating.

Trump isn't "reprehensible", his actions are literally killing people.

People who agree with Trump either directly condone the deaths of people, or are so ignorant that nothing they could say would be valuable.

Trying to portray it as "opposing political opinions" is a laughable insult to people for whom it's a matter of survival.

Same goes for every other president.

Obama extended the drone program considerably because to him it was a convenient way of both “keeping” his promises and maintaining US political and security interests.

Does that means that everyone who voted for him and agreed with most of his policies directly condoned deaths of far more people than what Trump’s policies at least currently may have contributed too?

Every US president and a few other world leaders would end up killing people through both direct and indirect actions.

But in all honesty this isn’t what this discussion is about. “Trump killing people” is effectively the new Poe’s law, it’s a statement that doesn’t have any meaningful substance behind it and it’s only goal is to end the discussion.

Ah, another "there's both good and bad people on both sides" sentiment.


Quantitative analysis matters.

Also, as to your last sentence: "same goes for *" doesn't have any meaningful substance behind it and its only goal is to drag the discussion out so far as to exhaust the other side into giving up.

Let’s make it simple then.

How many people do you think have died due to Trumps policies so far, out of those how many of them are Americans?

Not a great argument. Most of Trump's policies like expanding use of coal and not taking actions to prevent flooding and other consequences of global warming will be felt in 10, 20, or maybe even 50 years. By reversing course and burying the facts, he is still responsible for them in a way that Obama (who tried to work on the problem) was not.

Even more directly, Trump is in the process of gutting our healthcare, education, and taxes (read: infrastructure). If he had a few more votes in the Senate, they would have already undermined/removed even more of our social safety net. Millions of people will have significantly worse quality of life and for many of them it will mean the difference between life and death. Their medicines will get too expensive...they won't be able to afford to see a doctor in some cases...or get surgery or chemo in many more.

To say that Trump's policies aren't killing people (and especially Americans) is to ignore anything but soldiers from the count. Obama largely inherited Bush Jr's wars (and Bush Jr. was largely continuing Bush Sr's wars) so you're welcome to blame him for the deaths there but he probably had fewer options than you imply. Not to say he did nothing wrong, but Trump is literally threatening to nuke North Korea which is orders of magnitude different from how Obama acted even once in eight years.

It is, because the original poster said that for the people who are dying now because of his actions it’s a life and death situation.

I want to know who are these people.

Don’t get me wrong I agree with you on most things, that said I don’t actually see the US being much worse on climate change than under previous administrations they are just louder and more obnoxious about it (which ironically might actually push things for the better).

My problem is that I’ve seen too many people who claim trump is literally killing people and they don’t mean people in Bangladesh that might die to future floods due to climate change.

They usually would say “Trump is killing a minority/political_group_x” and those statements are pretty darn baseless, actually I take that back, he's definitely killing the republican party and also the center democrats.

I never said "now".

And the post previous is right. Climate change is the big one. It affects the entire planet.

However the, for a better word, desocialization of the USA is also a big factor both inside the country, and outside of it due to people who associate with or are relatives of americans being affected, or resources that would be used to help improve situations in other countries being tied up with emergencies in-country that would otherwise be handled by funds that are now going to tax breaks.

Then there's also the situation in Yemen which the USA is indirectly responsible for. And there's the situation in Puerto Rico, which is nominally american, but i think if a people don't get to vote, they get to be counted as a different country.

The situation in Yemen started way before Trump, Yemen, Libya and Syria are a failure of US foreign policy which predates Trump; Obama had a much bigger role in them. Yemen like Syria is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The previous administration for better or for worse empowered Iran.

Much of the mess was predicted by quite a few analysts shortly after Obama’s speech to the Arab world in Cairo.

As far as the hurricanes concern; while I don’t think it was handled well, but in actuality I don’t actually see much difference between now and how the US handled natural disasters in the past; the response was pretty much always shitty.

And yes you kinda said now when you said trump is literally killing people and to them “resistance” (to his policies I assume) is a matter of life and death.

> you kinda said now


Thanks for agreeing with the parts you didn't mention tho.

The ones you mentioned, we can disagree on them, if only because nothing useful is gonna come from further discussion of them here.

Disagree on what that Obama’s policies drastically escalated what happened in Syria and Yemen or that some how Trump is to blame for a conflict that started nearly 3 years ago...

I don’t like Trump i personally think he has a mental condition and it scares the shit out of me that he has access to the nuclear launch codes but all you blame him for isn’t his credit.

You agree on the big points, so i don't care to argue on the less big ones.

Which points exactly?

> Can we save ourselves a really long, pointless political argument?

Did you reach that conclusion based on personal experience? Because you were quite vocal and unfortunately prescient about it 395 days ago [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12733024


You could say his incompetence is even greater than his ignorance.

There's a lot I could point to but the most meaningful one that is that people were overwhelmingly complacent based on the assumption that Trump couldn't possibly win.

This comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12735404

Ok yeah, that makes sense.

The delicious irony of seeing the losers not accept the results of the election was icing on a big stats cake. It was so obvious he was going to win if you looked at the raw polling data.

Edit: I love how I still get downvoted a year later for stating the obvious. It’s funny how upset people get at those who tell the truth.

"Paul Graham compared him to Stalin. Both Altman and Graham believe, like I do, that Trump is an existential threat to our democracy."

Good god. It's crazy how politically driven people immediately demand nobody talk about politics as soon as they get their way. The guy was ranting and raving about end of democracy. Now that thiel is out, he wants everyone to be silent.

Truly an "unhacker" type of mindset which has gained such a prominent foothold on HN.

Censorship truly gives power to the people who shouldn't have it.

Any sort of forum that enforces rampant censorship, mods personally scold users for looking into another users post history, and flags/deletes/bans any comments touching taboo topics (politics is the big one here) makes it very difficult to have a decent conversation.

Couple that with the anonymity and rampant upvote/downvote based on disagreements (My comments on this thread rapidly oscillate between -5 and +5 -- it's crazy how enormous the pro-Trump population on HN actually is and how blissfully Silicon Valley pretends they don't exist) in an attempt to silence ideas you don't like..

Yeah it's really fucked up. We need a new discussion forum format, that isn't so easily manipulated like HN and Reddit due to vote manipulation.

>it's crazy how enormous the pro-Trump population on HN actually is and how blissfully Silicon Valley pretends they don't exist)

>Yeah it's really fucked up. We need a new discussion forum format, that isn't so easily manipulated like HN and Reddit due to vote manipulation.

Are you sure you aren't just whining because you think more people agree with you than actually do? It's awfully convenient that since people online don't like it that you are dredging up comments from years ago stalking people's accounts and attacking them in support of a horribly unpopular position that is actively destroying things important to tech people, that it's the fault of the format and vote manipulation, and censorship, and mods, and it's all someone else's fault, I'm actually right and everyone is on my side. You conclude it's hard to have a conversation because people don't agree with you, because the conversation isn't going exactly how you want.

It's shocking how people who support him even pick up on his conversational tics; blame anything that you don't like on external enemies, the powers that be, claim everyone actually likes you despite all evidence to the contrary, that your crowd was huge, that it's just the lying liberal elites that control everything out to get you.

> Couple that with the anonymity and rampant upvote/downvote based on disagreements (My comments on this thread rapidly oscillate between -5 and +5 -- it's crazy how enormous the pro-Trump population on HN actually is and how blissfully Silicon Valley pretends they don't exist)

I think you are making an unjustified and inaccurate guess as to the source of your downvotes.

From past experience talking to people "on the other side" here on Hacker News, I agree with the mods that is better to stifle posts/threads that might become too controversial. There's plenty of places on the internet to have that kind of conversation, HN doesn't need to be everything to everyone.

HN is just as bad on language/technology wars though, and that doesn't get censored. Rampant vote manipulation on comments and story visibility in general leads to very pigeonholed ways of viewing things and leads to echo chambers that effectively shut down any conversation on topics which are viewed competitive to those that happen to be popular (or intentionally manipulated to be made popular) at the moment.

Some examples of over the past decade: MongoDB, NodeJS, Docker, React, Tensorflow, Blockchain

Regardless of the quality of the technologies listed above, anything negative about those topics (during their prime anyway -- it's acceptable to shit on MongoDB once again) would get downvoted/flagged to the point of not existing.

My issue isn't particularly on removal of off-topic threads (e.g. no politics in HN), that's totally acceptable. What I don't agree with is removal (either by mods or by massive swarms of downvoting "users") of unpopular thoughts/ideas.

Sure, let's not argue. But it's fine to be curious.

Sam has said that he won't cut Thiel for political ties. Thiel is cut. Does this represent an internal shift in momentum, or an external shift in appearances?

Combine that with some recent news regarding Thiel. I wish I'd paid more attention to it. It was something like, Thiel was making a move against a certain company. So maybe it has nothing to do with politics, or that politics are an incomplete answer.

If we won't get an answer, that's fine. But it's unnecessary to shut down the conversation so harshly.

There could very well be a non-political reason for this move, and HN is one of the best places to shake loose counterintuitive truths.

I guess what bugs me is the lack of curiosity here. Everyone is acting relieved to be rid of Thiel. The underlying dynamics are interesting, and there's no reason it has to be an argument or polarizing.

It's not really a conversation if people just say whatever they believe with no evidence. It's much closer to noise.

> Sam has said that he won't cut Thiel for political ties. Thiel is cut.

Curiously, that doesn't follow. The article happens not to contain any evidence that it was YC that "cut" ties, nor indicates when the working relationship ended or for what reason.

Let me try to pull some intellectual gratification out of this:

A source close to Y Combinator said that the company ended its part-time partners program, which Thiel was a part of, some time last year. While some other part-time partners moved over to a program called "experts," which provides advice to Y Combinator entrepreneurs, Thiel did not join.

It's legit fascinating to me to watch this in action. Let's say hypothetically you wanted to get rid of Thiel. How could you do that?

"Just form another group, then don't invite Thiel to the new group" didn't even occur to me. That's smart.

Can this be seen as something other than an accusation or a political talking point? I'm trying to make commentary about overall emergent social phenomena. Maybe nobody cares about that, but personally I think group dynamics are really interesting to witness.

>”Just form another group, then don't invite Thiel to the new group"

Conceptually, this is also how VCs wash out founders.

And how you get rid of employees in settings with tenure.

"Just form another group, then don't invite Thiel to the new group" didn't even occur to me. That's smart.

It is also a plot point from The Simpsons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7R3hzpfnmw

Mind you, by the sound of it, “experts” don’t invest in startups, or steer their direction, but just act as an oracle-like source of answers to questions. Whatever their opinion on Thiel, Thiel himself probably wouldn’t be interested in joining such a group. It’s all responsibility and no power.

If Thiel was removed solely for political reasons, that is outrageous imo. I hope this post isn’t just to deflect potential criticism.

>I'm happy Thiel's no longer involved with YC.

I am not quite familiar with what role he played at YC. Why are you glad he is gone ?

He invested in Stripe back when no one else would and then helped connect them with Elon Musk, who also invested. That was long ago, however and it's difficult to know what he did internally as a part-time partner last year.

I am still really puzzled over exactly why Peter Thiel so so hated. I believe the level of hatred is completely unwarranted. From my understanding, it boils down to this:

- He is remotely associated with Trump - He helped take down Gawker - ....something something something...but he backed Trump!

For the Gawker part:

Gawker outed him without his permission.

Outing a gay man is something the tabloids used to do in the darkest time period of the United States. Finding someone was gay and making that known publicly was a tool used by very, very unpleasant people to destroy careers and lives for years.

Given how Liberal the tech industry is, it is genuinely puzzling that people would rise to the defense of "Freedom of the Press" to use someone's sexual identity to try to discredit or embarrass them and destroy their career.

This is not freedom of the press, its bullying. If a media outlet did something to you personally and you had a few million dollars to spare to shut them down, you would do it too. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

So Peter Thiel helped shut down an abusive tabloid that outs gay men against their will and regresses the tech sector back to the 1970's and 80's. That doesn't seem sufficient to warrant the hatred.

Then he was associated with Trump. He dared so say things like: "Our middle class has been gutted by globalization and we are being eaten alive by China."

Bernie Sanders ran on this exact platform. Almost word-for-word, Bernie Sander's political platform economically had many things in common with what Thiel was promoting.

So that leaves one final option: The reason that people hate Thiel is because he made enemies in the Liberal press, they smeared him relentlessly and people internalized this without doing their own independent thinking or research.

I don't like that Y Combinator was expected to "Apologize" for not firing someone for holding political beliefs that align them with 42% of the United States population. I feel the tech industry is now a worse, less free place when demonization of this type has become so endemic.

Theil didn't just hurt a bully. He took it a step further. For one, he financed someone else's lawsuit, because his own was unwinnable (they did in fact print the truth, that he is gay). More importantly, he hurt free speech through the chilling effect of his suit.

What he basically did was say, "don't ever print anything negative about a billionaire because they can take down your entire business". So now if a billionaire really does do something newsworthy and negative, places like the New York Times might think twice about publishing that story, for fear of the cost of defending a billionaire's lawsuit.

That's why people dislike him (other than his Trump support, although to be fair I haven't heard anything about him supporting Trump anymore).

The sad take-away from Hogan v Gawker isn't that a millionaire can spend money on a whim to exert justice where he so desires, it's that you need that level of money to seek justice in the first place.

This! I honestly can't understand how one can blame Thiel for killing free speech. He basically evened the chances in front of justice. If there's anyone to blame for killing free speech it's the legal system who decided against Gawker.

"What he basically did was say, "don't ever print anything negative about a billionaire because they can take down your entire business""

No, he didn't. Gawker died on its own merits; in an alternative world where Gawker continued to flaunt the law because someone couldn't afford to fund a lawsuit, I'm OK with this outcome. Not to mention, Gawker did themselves absolutely no favors, from ignoring a federal judge to flippantly answering questions under oath, they garnered no pity from me.

I agree, Gawker was awful and deserved to die for many reasons.

But it's important to remember that the judgement was only the death blow -- defending the lawsuit was what gave them a slow death. Even if Gawker was right and won, they still would have died.

> No, he didn't. Gawker died on its own merits

Just-world fallacy. If I had an axe to grind with you and had unlimited funds - how many of your negative interactions with (contractors|coworkers|neighbours|acquaintances) in the past couple of years could be escalated to financial ruin? If you survive the first suit, how many more could you stomach before declaring bankruptcy?

By accident or design, the fact that legal action is expensive acts as a brake on suits without much merit (to a degree).

He funded someone else's lawsuit, yes. But it's not as if Thiel bribed the judge and jury. The lawsuit won on its own legal merits. Gawker did something they had no right to do, which the law recognized.

Gawker lost against Hulk Hogan on hubbis alone.

Hogan got an injunction to take down the sex tape and Gawkers response was an article titled "A Judge Told Us to Take Down Our Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Post. We Won't."

They sealed their own fates with their muckraking tabloidism.

[1] http://gawker.com/a-judge-told-us-to-take-down-our-hulk-hoga...

Yes, it was a truly chilling effect on the free speech when a website was held responsible for distributing private sex videos to garner clicks.

If that suit didn't happen, would reddit been as fast to stop the "fappening" exchange on their website?


At least if you are a celebrity with deep pockets you have a good chance of getting your leaked photos wiped.

You're out of luck however if you are just an ordinary person, and partner uploaded your pictures to some "amateur" website as "revenge porn".

I hate Gawker too, but you need to see the bigger picture.

It was defending the suit, whether right or wrong, that killed them. The judgement was just the death blow.

Would you feel the same way if the suit had been against a more reputable organization like the New York Times?

Number 1, the New York Times wouldn't (I trust) have published the stuff that got Gawker in trouble.

Number 2, the New York Times would be much wiser in how they interacted with the courts than Gawker was.

Number 3, people do sue the New York Times. The New York Times pays the legal costs, and keeps publishing.

Do you really think that a billionaire can bankrupt the New York Times with a lawsuit? I'm pretty sure they can't...

EFF funds other people’s lawsuits too. Isn’t that the exact same thing you are complaining about?

I don't think that is right. They participate in other people's lawsuits as additional council. The don't just give money to other council.

He also wrote a libertarian pamphlet where he called women's right to vote a blocker of a truly capitalist democracy.

Never backed down that claim.

Here is the pamphlet, from 2009: https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/educatio...

Quote: "Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron."

If that is ok for you - ok.

Personally, I find this a very immature and troubling world view. Should tell the CEO of StitchFix that she is preventing capitalism with her IPO.

I'm not sure why that quote that people keep bringing up is so outrageous to people. In my opinion, it's a pretty factual analysis of the political climate; in which the voter demographics have shifted in a way which makes it tough for libertarians to win elections. Welfare recipients, for obvious reasons, are anti-libertarian. Women, supposedly, are also less libertarian than men? I don't know if that's true; but regardless, what's wrong with stating that fact.

I think people are upset because they assume that it's implied in Thiel's statement that he believes women shouldn't have received the right to vote. But it's important to note that he has never advocated for that. Not in this quote, anyways. He was merely pointing out a few shifts in the past century that have made it extremely hard for libertarians to win elections.

Males receive public assistance in roughly equal proportion to women. It's not a fact if you don't know that it's true and don't have any evidence.

You should read the whole text then.

He proposes the creation of a new society, on an oilrig or on Mars, than can be ideal. Thereby outlining there would be no voting rights for women there.

And by the way, if you accept universal suffrage as hindering your cause, mayheps you take a good look in the mirror.

He also funded [1] videos like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlWKm01cauc

Things like these rot our society to the core by creating class and race divisions. I am very proud of YC for having distanced itself from Thiel, I just wish they were more vocal about it and that they'd done it earlier.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Thiel#Support_for_politi...

I always try to find the context when people are outraged by a quote, so I started by trying to figure out what the definition is of the quoted "capitalist democracy". Wikipedia gave "page does not exist", so I went to google. Google gave me a bunch of news article about Peter Thiel pamphlet. The term don't seems to exist outside it.

So I went back to the pamphlet and looked if it defined the term only to find that the above quote is the first time he uses "capitalist democracy". The only thing that then make sense is to look above in the text to see what if anything related to either capitalist or democracy. However the only thing he say is that "capitalism simply is not that popular", and "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible".

So I can only really make a blind guess what he is trying to say. In 1920 9% of women were working, while about 90-95% of men were working. It might be this difference that the pamphlet is referring to, but if so, it is also missing the historical context of that date. World War 1 ended in 1918, and during that year the US congress had planned to issue a female war draft because they ran out of men to fuel the war machine and the voluntary female work places did not attract enough women. Naturally you can't force people into the military without rightfully open up the issue of voting rights. The draft, and associated discussion regarding voting was more or less decided, but then the war ended. The female draft became first delayed and then scrapped. The question of voting as we all know did however get voted in.

It is in the context of those first few years after world war 1 that the pamphlet bring up that quote. It seems to have no insight to 1920 economical environment, and even less so with the economy of 2009, that its hard to figure out what the intended meaning is supposed to be. Maybe the whole pamphlet was written to say that women should not vote because 1920s enjoyed political optimism?, but that too would also just be an other guess to what would be a very odd thing to write.

No one is arguing that Thiel's pamphlet is fully grounded in sound reasoning, facts, etc.

As you outline, he is thoroughly confused.

He proposes evasive techniques for libertarians like him, like seasteading, to escape and build the perfect society - I guess with no voting rights for anyone but cool dudes like him.

I took your comment as genuine, not some bullshit attempt to deflect through focus on some minute detail. Hope I am not wrong.

Intention behind the comment is as stated that I want to try understand the context and intended message behind a quote. Normally this allow for a more nuanced view, and also detect when context dictate the meaning of a quote. By documenting and writing about it maybe someone can point to something I missed, but also give insight to people who don't want to investigate the text themselves.

> I took your comment as genuine, not some bullshit attempt to deflect through focus on some minute detail. Hope I am not wrong.

Yeah, who cares about pesky details, am I right?

> - He is remotely associated with Trump

I don't think his association with Trump deserves him anything beyond disapproval from someone who also disapproves of Trump, definitely not hatred. And I've almost never seen any hate-filled comments directed towards him on HN that weren't downvoted.

But to suggest that he is only "remotely" associated with Trump seems like a blatant misrepresentation of his activities during and after the election.

He is a hypocrite.

Libertarian, on the Committee for Protection of Journalists, but hey I don't like what you said about me. I'm going to lie in wait for 8-9 years and then secretly fund a lawsuit against you with a possibly winnable case. (PS: I don't want to see a Hulk Hogan sextape anymore than Hulk Hogan wanted it released)

Gay, but will willingly support candidates who are against gay people: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump. Whomever will push his agenda.

Also, Thiel didn't hide that he was gay, he was only "in the closet" when it affected him financially. Despite what you wrote, the tech industry is not very liberal. SF is liberal, and a lot of tech companies are in SF but a lot of VC money is not in SF, and most VCs I don't think most people would consider very liberal.

And his hedge was Trump wasn't as bad as he was going to be during the campaign, that it was all theater. But he's rich so none of that matters to him if he's wrong. Worst case scenario is he flies to New Zealand to survive any fallout.

In case it wasn't clear, swang means this literally. Peter Thiel used his billions to get New Zealand citizenship after spending only twelve days there so he has a backup plan after our healthcare, schools, transportation networks, etc. are gutted

In what way is Trump “against gay people”?

Trump does not control DOJ. And transgender service members were only allowed less than a year before they were disallowed. Moreover, the “ban” is only a suspension of continued implementation, those already in service can continue to serve, and will not be denied reenlistment. Somehow no one had any issues with Obama not allowing them for 7 years, not even a peep was heard, and he was never called the enemy of gay people. I’m not even going to dignify the third thing on that list with a response.

I mean I hate him because I read Zero to One and noticed his thoughts on monopoly are insane, but sure, you can assume people aren't doing independent thinking and research while in turn not doing independent thinking and research.

I liked the 1st part of the book, the point that making something happens is more valuable to society than incremental update. To me that's the only definition of innovation and disruption. However, the rest is where is narcissism shines.

But that seems to be a common pattern for narcissist writing self-help books: the first conceptual part can be useful, insightful and reasonable; the rest just shows how their general lack of creativity, of knowing how to actually do something, self gratification, and 'the end justifies the means', irresistibly and invariably takes over their mind... sad...

Does that warrant hate? I hate monopolies, but only disagree with people that would support them. I think we need to learn to agree to disagree more.

Many people hated Thiel before Trump and the Gawker lawsuit. I strongly disliked him fifteen years before that. Since no one else has mentioned it, maybe we should talk about Palantir which is one of his most high profile companies. He co-founded it and is/was the largest shareholder so the ethics of that one fall squarely on him.

Its part of why he wants to be so friendly with Trump. Many more billion$$$$ of lucrative no-bid government contracts for Palantir and Thiel personally.

Here is an article from The Intercept that adds more detail: https://theintercept.com/2017/02/22/how-peter-thiels-palanti...


In the demo, Palantir engineers showed how their software could be used to identify Wikipedia users who belonged to a fictional radical religious sect and graph their social relationships. In Palantir’s pitch, its approach to the VAST Challenge involved using software to enable “many analysts working together [to] truly leverage their collective mind.” The fake scenario’s target, a cartoonishly sinister religious sect called “the Paraiso Movement,” was suspected of a terrorist bombing, but the unmentioned and obvious subtext of the experiment was the fact that such techniques could be applied to de-anonymize and track members of any political or ideological group. Among a litany of other conclusions, Palantir determined the group was prone to violence because its “Manifesto’s intellectual influences include ‘Pancho Villa, Che Guevara, Leon Trotsky, [and] Cuban revolutionary Jose Martí,’ a list of military commanders and revolutionaries with a history of violent actions.”

It's less Trump and Gawker and more his (older than either of those) perceived (accurately, as far as I can tell) association with the explicitly anti-democratic and pro-aristocratic neoreactionary movement.

His support for Trump fits into that, though, because it's seen as part and parcel of Thiel's neoreactionary politics.

I doubt it is one those two things. You need to think of the overall personality, all the small and big things, the ideology, the narcissism... these add up, and overtime one just get fed up. I am not connected to YC, but when I read that that's how what I presume happened, because I wish there were more people with a low tolerance for narcissistic personalities.

I have great admiration for Thiel as an entrepreneur and I agree with him on a number of his economic views. It's unfortunate that his infamous Cato essay point about women and welfare recipients being difficult constituencies for libertarians has been misconstrued (maybe purposely for political reasons?) as if to mean "women and welfare recipients should therefore not be allowed to vote". When I watch the American news media covering state & federal elections, they routinely say that X candidate or party usually has a tough time with women/people of color/college students/older people, so I never really agreed with the interpretation that many in the media seemed to want me to derive out of that essay.

It's really unfortunate that politics has turned into some kind of tribal warfare and polarized the USA to this degree. From the perspective of an outsider it seems like there either side is somehow morally superior to the other. Of late I personally tend to hear things like "taxation is theft" and "property is for fascists" on a disturbingly regular basis from voices that seem to grow louder as time goes by. Where did all the moderates go?

His original quote was

"Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron."

He seems pro democracy but then seems to think that some people's voting patterns threaten it.

He clarified the statement with:

"It would be absurd to suggest that women’s votes will be taken away or that this would solve the political problems that vex us. While I don’t think any class of people should be disenfranchised, I have little hope that voting will make things better"

So he doesn't like voting at all? Isn't that a pillar of democracy? Strange and I am libertarian leaning...


If Rivendell one day decided to become a democracy, and I as an Orc wanted to bring the Orcish way of life to Rivendell, the prospect of Elves being allowed to vote would factually be a hindrance to that kind of model assuming that Elves want to preserve their existing Elvish way of life.

(The implicit assumption here is that these particular voting groups are statistically more in favor of a welfare based system than a merit based one.)

Therefore, if one were to believe that the Orcish way of life equals "making things better", and one is living in a democratic system where the Elves are allowed to vote, then I would "have little hope that voting will make things better", since voting would lead us away from an Orcish way of life, which I assume to be superior.

He loves voting

He thinks taking away voting rights is absurd

He has little hope that voting is going to make things better, given the outcome of those votes.

The opinion here is "capitalism good, libertarianism good, democracy good, XYZ groups tend to vote against my political philosophy". The rest is facts.

Given that the democracy votes the way it does, and is heavily affected by the votes of XYZ groups given their sizes, factually, voting will not make things opinionatedly better, as an outcome.

"I am still really puzzled over exactly why Peter Thiel so so hated."

Honestly, it's because he's a jackass. Don't forget his absurdly libertarian stances regarding regulation, to the point where he funded studies that completely ignored the ethics/regulations around human medical testing. He's also espoused the views that women being allowed to vote is a bad thing, and that people like him should just run the place as a cabal.

"So that leaves one final option: The reason that people hate Thiel is because he made enemies in the Liberal press, they smeared him relentlessly and people internalized this without doing their own independent thinking or research."

No. Assuming that people don't agree with what you think simply because they haven't "done the research" is extremely uncivil. I have done the research, and I think he's a jackass.

"I feel the tech industry is now a worse, less free place when demonization of this type has become so endemic."

The only way you could think that is if you don't feel the rest of us have the right to express our opinions.

I personally don't like him because he's hostile towards education.

I've watched more than a dozen talks from him and the education topic was one of the most interesting points. Care to elaborate what you mean by hostile?

He's of the opinion that university is a waste of time and has gone so far as paying people to drop out. This isn't for people who are going into trades and might strictly not need a university education, but for people who he thinks should go on to found technical, medical, and engineering startups.

I'm of the opinion that university is good for everyone, even people who don't strictly need it for their jobs. Democracy only works if you have an educated public that values critical thinking.

> Democracy only works if you have an educated public that values critical thinking.

Thiel has openly said that democracy has become incompatible with his notion of freedom (and seems to prefer the latter given the conflict), so its not hard to see why he might not support something essential to the function of democracy.

I'm of the opinion that university is good for everyone

At what cost?

Thiel never says "university is a waste of time", his position is that it's often not a sound investment of time and money, which is uncontroversial, given the number of graduates who incur 6-figure debts and find themselves to be unemployable.

In your judgement, what is the threshold (in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of inescapable debt) at which university ceases to be "good for everybody"?

> He's of the opinion that university is a waste of time

What I understood was more like it's a waste of money, considering the outrageous price you pay for it and it's ROI.

Of course university is good for everyone, but if it comes along with a huge debt? He blamed the education system for bubbling up the prices and not providing enough value, to the point alternatives should be considered.

I really liked his point that people should stop believing university is all you need to be successful in life and blindly throw money at them because they have no better idea.

> He's of the opinion that university is a waste of time and has gone so far as paying people to drop out.

IIRC, he was paying people to run with their startup idea rather than wait until after they finished college. It was far different than just paying random students to drop out.

> Democracy only works if you have an educated public that values critical thinking.

That doesn't mean that the university is good. Do the universities really teach people to value critical thinking? Or do they teach them to value thinking that supports the currently prevailing viewpoint? Too often, it's the latter.

Note well: I'm not a Thiel fan or supporter. What he did to Gawker was both dirty and hypocritical.

Were Zuckerberg, Jobs, Gates and any number of drop-out founders uneducated and unable to critically think? Of course not. If anyone thinks a university degree means you are educated, you haven’t been in the world very much. My little company deals with mental health professionals with masters and PhD, yet some of them can barely write a coherent sentence (spend five minutes in our support ticket system and you’d be amazed.)

The sooner we detach a degree from the concept of “being educated,” the better.

College degree != educated

Many educated people have a college degree but they aren’t educated by virtue of that degree. My dad isn’t a high school graduate who was a precision machinist who built high tolerance devices for NASA. He worked with Dr. Smalley at Rice University and built some incredible things — stuff that led to Smalley’s Nobel prize. He’s hardly uneducated and unable to think critically.

Education IS important, but college is just a means, not an end.

> Education IS important, but college is just a means, not an end.

It's pretty well understood that both Gates' and Zuckerberg's success is owed in part to their parents' means (pun intended) and what it afforded them early in life, including attendance at elite private schools and living in prosperous, stable communities, and attending, though not graduating from, an elite university.

They are hardly examples of poorer people becoming big successes without college.

I think he's hated because he's a formidable challenge against an entrenched belief system. People don't like their beliefs challenged, especially when it's the overwhelming majority, IMO. Thiel does that, without worry or shame, and that upsets some folks...

Is he formidable because the arguments are good, or because he’s rich?

And how would we distinguish the truth from the fiction, given the ease with which we fall into us-vs-them thinking, the halo effect, and boolean-valued morality, or treat arguments are soldiers for Us in an eternal struggle against Them?

I have some concerns about his fellowship thing looking like an inviting-but-ultimately-a-trap attempt to use 18 year olds to advance his own political agenda, but wouldn't say that's hateable, as theirs definitely a more positive way to look at it. I just think the implementation is not really set up for success for the individuals compared to the opportunity cost.

I could see people with an even harsher take on his various super-individualistic projects, though.

The fellowship is one of the few things I like about him. I was in exactly the position the fellowship was designed for where I had to decide between continuing to study or further pursuing my startup. IIRC correctly the age restrictions were lower back then, and I didn't apply because I was just slightly too old, which in retrospect was a stupid reason not to apply. I ended up pursuing the startup anyway (which ended up failing), and am now in a very good position experience- and job-wise, where I probably would have been in 5-10 years otherwise (_if_ we assume that I would have been able to endure/pass university).

Given what I've seen/heard from alumni I (or friends of me) have met, they largely seem to be doing very well. Giving someone a 3-5 year headstart can be a significant boost. The only way I see the fellowship having bigger opportunity cost than university is if you subscribe to the school of thought of making "Harvard connections", which can turn out to be more advantageous.

> I just think the implementation is not really set up for success for the individuals compared to the opportunity cost.

Care to elaborate?

People dislike "liberty for me but not for thee" hypocrites, especially those with the means and willpower to act on that impulse.

It's not complicated!

>Y Combinator was expected to "Apologize" for not firing someone for holding political beliefs that align them with 42%

Isn’t your percentage of those who bothered to vote?

40-50% (everywhere quotes different numbers) of eligible voters didn’t vote in 2016

blood boys - https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/this-anti-aging-star...

>why Peter Thiel so so hated.

he just receives back what he gives. I mean there is huge difference between being disappointed/critical/etc. (i'm not a big fan of humanity myself) which is necessary for the progress and being hellbent on promulgating hate for and destroying, just for the sake of personal comfort, those few good things we, humans, have been able to achieve so far.

Being part of a group is not enough you have to proclaim it.

Peter Thiel is not universally hated. He’s only hated by a subset of society. He’s greatly admired by another subset.

This post does not appear to contain any evidence that YC has cut ties with Peter Thiel. They ended the program that he, and many other individuals, were a part of. Just because he is not in this program anymore, does not mean they no longer have any ties to him. There is also no evidence of any connection here to Trump or Thiel's support of him with the ending of the program or Thiel's lack of involvement in a different official capacity with YC. I wish I could have the five minutes back it took to read this click bait.

The page literally says: Edit: Peter Thiel is no longer affiliated with Y Combinator.

That means they at least cut some ties.


Not necessarily.

You don't believe that an affiliation counts as a tie? Or you think YC is lying that Thiel is no longer affiliated?

In the future just avoid anything on buzzfeed, it’s all clickbait

While I know most of these things never get a truly transparent answer, and often for valid reasons. I am very curious for some response from YC.

It may have been politically motivated, and it may not have been. I'm also not aware how much Thiel was involved vs. other partners. Additional insight into much of this could shed good light to those that appreciate much of what YC has done and aims to continue to do.

Some response from YC would be a big win, but also just may not be an option.

I'm a big fan of Peter Thiel, and of anyone who's a divergent thinker and has well thought out opinions that run contrary to mainstream ideology (e.g., Noam Chomsky).

If YC ended its relationship with Peter because of his political affiliations, I'd find that extremely unfortunate. Any institution which closes itself off to outside information, challenging viewpoints and diversity of thought risks becoming an ideological echo chamber and ultimately weakening itself in the long run.

Any institution which closes itself off to outside information, challenging viewpoints and diversity of thought

Do you make sure to attend flat-earth meetings?

>YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.

This is awesome. I had no idea this had been said. I have a lot of respect for anyone bringing that sentiment.

Can anyone provide context to this? Sam has been on record saying that he wouldn't cut Thiel solely for political affiliations. Was there another reason?

They didn't feel he was a good fit, or maybe Thiel didn't want to transition to whatever they replaced the partner program with. Simple as that.

There is another much more sinister reason:

The program he was involved in got terminated

What about Milner?

Rumors are swirling that Thiel is gearing up for economic/regulatory war on silicon valley.

So I can't say this is surprising but I find it all extremely confusing.

EDIT: Mostly rumors I hear from happy hours with some politicos in DC. Sorry, its just meat space rumors.

What kind of rumors? Any links or anything that would give some context?

Apparently an AG that Thiel gave money to is investigating google for antitrust stuff in Missouri:

“But it’s not the first time Thiel has handed cash to an AG who went after Google over monopoly concerns.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Nov. 13 that his office was investigating Google to see if the Mountain View tech giant had violated the state’s antitrust and consumer-protection laws. The Missouri attorney general said he had issued an investigative subpoena to Google. He’s looking at the firm’s handling of users’ personal data, along with claims that it misappropriated content from rivals and pushed down competitors’ websites in search results.”


What would he have to gain from such a war?

Regulatory lock for both Palantir and Facebook. Regulations can be very good for large businesses as they erect enormous barriers to entry into certain spaces that only established companies can hope to surmount.

I am not willing to believe that on such scarce evidence. I not exactly a fan of Peter Thiel, but I am not convinced he is that ruthless.

However, if it were true, it matches so perfectly the article he wrote for WSJ a few years ago. It was literally titled "Competition is for losers". [1]

I still do not think that he basically wants to bully all the competition away so he can make more money and become more powerful. And I will not even go into how likely it is that could actually succeed with such a move, if he did.

But still - if the rumors should turn out to be true, we cannot say that nobody could have seen that coming, in fact he told us himself what he was going to do. If.

And at that point truth has become indeed stranger than fiction.

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-competition-is-for-...

I mean, it's straight out of his book Zero to One, something about being "last to market"

The high falutin fancy pants term is regulatory capture[0].


Righteous vengeance? He seems like the kind of guy who enjoys that kind of thing. He took a ton of flak for supporting Trump, and I'll bet a lot of people burned bridges, certain of a Clinton victory. But then against all odds Trump won and all of a sudden Thiel has a lot of friends in high places, and it's payback time.

The ones who profit the most from more regulations are usually the big existing players (in the case of general regulations). He has a lot of investments in big players, so the motive would be good old monetary gain. In the case of more specialized regulations targeting single players can be used to take out the competition (e.g. hurting Google might be good for his stake in Facebook).

A few large silicon valley companies have a large concentration of power. Libertarians like distribution of power among smaller entities.

That doesn't sound like the Peter Thiel I have heard about. If his writing is any reflection of his beliefs, he is a big fan of monopolies (unless he doesn't own them).

That's not a great summary of libertarian beliefs, and the exact opposite of Thiel's stated beliefs.

My impression of Thiel is more the "superman" type approach to libertarianism. Power should be concentrated among the worthy (aka me).

But that's not Thiel at all. He does want power concentrated; he just wants to be one of those it's concentrated with.

He wants power to be as concentrated as it should be when people are free to gain and lose power as consequences of their decisions. That's contrasted with bureaucratic insulation whereby power isn't gained or lost with bad or good decisions.

Nothing I've seen indicates that's even remotely close to the truth. He wants power to be concentrated with him.

Then why did he support another person's presidential run?

And why is it a problem for him to concentrate power so long as the power transfer is consensual? or democratic?


That's a big ol' [Citation Needed]. You're gonna have to explain why you believe those two would be ineligible.

Thiel is clearly a libertarian nutter of the Bannon varietal, from his statements and interviews.

To them "all regulations == bad," lacking nuance and honest reality in preference to utopian illusions that align with the interests of unlimited greed.

It’s clear you don’t know Thiel. Comparing him to Bannon is just ridiculous.

If this is true and not just rumors, my guess would be that it's political. SV tends to lean left or left-libertarian.

What does this mean?

In my opinion, this was long overdue. Anyway, Ycombinator maybe strategically getting ready for a world without trump. Having people who supported this type of a Person won't be a good look in the future.

Sure, lets all think the same. Do you play football with people who dont like to eat what you like?

> Do you play football with people who dont like to eat what you like?

I appreciate that trivialising the issues to score cheap slippery slope points is de rigueur these days but you must surely see the yawning dichotomy between "people who don't like to eat what you like" and "people who believe other people are lesser beings less deserving of rights, money, health, protections"

Peter does not think that

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