Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel will leave Facebook parent Meta’s board, the firm said Monday, after a lengthy tenure that saw the network’s rise and his vocal support of Donald Trump.
Meta and Thiel’s announcement offered nothing on his future plans, but the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that he would focus on aiding Republican candidates backing ex-president Donald Trump’s agenda in the midterm elections.
“He has served on our board for almost two decades, and we’ve always known that at some point he would devote his time to other interests,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
Thiel is expected to leave the board after Meta’s shareholder meeting, which is typically in May.
He was Facebook’s first outside investor, with a stake that made him hundreds of millions of dollars, joining the nascent giant’s board in 2005.
Thiel built his wealth through the online payments company PayPal, founded in 1998, and invested in Airbnb, Affirm, Stripe and SpaceX, among others.
Considered one of the tech industry’s most prominent conservatives, he became a supporter of Trump, including a $1.25 million donation in 2016 to the former reality TV star’s campaign.
“Mark Zuckerberg’s intelligence, energy, and conscientiousness are tremendous. His talents will serve Meta well as he leads the company into a new era,” Thiel said in the announcement.
Thiel was a long-time confidant of Zuckerberg, but distanced himself from Silicon Valley culture over the years.
“Our company was founded in Silicon Valley. But we seem to share fewer and fewer of the technology sector’s values and commitments,” said a prospectus for Palantir, a data analysis firm Thiel co-founded.
“From the start, we have repeatedly turned down opportunities to sell, collect or mine data.”
The news about Thiel’s departure comes as Meta aims to move past its status as a scandal-plagued social media giant, to its metaverse vision for the future of the internet.
However, that idea remains a distant goal and in the meantime the company faces regulators’ scrutiny, troubles with its core ad business and a stock price that plunged on disappointing quarterly results.