None of these really look like compelling business ideas to me. It seems as thought at best, the idea Thiel has is that if some angel out there can fund bright young people, they can develop business understanding and enrich their skills in areas they're interested in to a point where someday they can do great things. But I just don't see those great things being the ventures that they're currently incubating.
Sure, it would be excellent if a billionaire swooped down from the sky and paid me a fortune to learn by doing rather than going to school. But more often than not these days, young people go to school because student loans are easy to acquire. Furthermore, the jobs they're likely to start off with straight out of high school pay about as much as the cost of living portion of student loans taken over the course of a full year. I agree the university system is pretty flawed right now. It doesn't do a good job preparing young people for careers -- particularly in the liberal arts. But I don't think that plying smart kids with money is an effective way to provide a well-rounded foundation for any career path. That pretty much says that so long as you impress someone enough for them to become your patron, you're set for life and there's no expectation that you succeed. And that's the current problem with the university system, too -- all kids pandering to professors, and no actual expectations that what you learn be used in whatever constitutes your career after college. We shouldn't be setting up young people to think that their self worth is derived from impressing people in their minuscule niche, but rather from the satisfaction of their personal accomplishments (as well as the paycheck at the end of the day).