Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, June 13th, 2013 - 69 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, copyright, democracy under attack, greens, john key, russel norman, same old national, slippery, Spying, telecommunications - Tags: Palantir, peter thiel
So, there is now further exposure of the networks of influence that connect John Key and his government with crony capitalists and spy networks.
It’s not enough that Key intervened in the appointment of the GCSB that resulted in the recruitment of his long time Ian Fletcher, a man with a strong background in intellectual property. It’s not enough that the Kim Dotcom saga keeps giving information on the links between Hollywood corporates and pressure on the government with respect to copyright legislation. It’s not enough to learn about the US metadata spy programmes like Thin Thread and Prism. It’s not enough that we learn that
the developers and managers of Prism, Palantir are operating in NZ and working with Key’s government. Many claim Palantir designed the Prism system used by the US NSA spying agency and the FBI. Palantir deny it, but others claim it is too much of a coincidence, given the systems Planatir have claimed to have developed.
Now it is becoming clear that Palantir’s co-founder, Peter Thiel has had extensive involvement in NZ since at least 2009, the first year of Key’s government.
Yesterday Russel Norman asked questions in the House about Palantir and Key’s relationship with Peter Thiel.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I would describe my relationship as cordial. I have met Mr Thiel on a few occasions—I would have to go to check exactly, as I said, if the member wants to ask me. I have never had a discussion with Mr Thiel about Palantir or about intelligence matters. He is someone who happens to live a certain period of time in New Zealand. He was extremely generous after the Christchurch earthquake, as is a matter of record, and just because “Noddy” over there does not seem to—
Same old attack and divert line from Key at the end there.
In this morning’s NZ Herald, Adam Bennett shows some of Thiel’s involvement in NZ:
Mr Thiel, a billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former PayPal chief executive, was “extremely generous after the Christchurch earthquake”, Mr Key said. …
Mr Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Matrix Capital Management hold 7 per cent of Mr Drury’s Xero software company. Mr Drury did not respond to the Herald’s calls yesterday.
It’s not necessary to research very far or deep online in order to find out quite a bit about Peter Thiel:
Business Insider Australia has a 2011 article on Peter Thiel and his involvement in NZ, entitled, “Billionnaire Facebook Investor, Petere Thiel Pours Money Into His “Utopia” New Zealand“.
Peter Thiel, famous for making billions off Facebook, tells us he’s finally found “utopia” – New Zealand.Thiel has been investing heavily in the country.
He’s already made two noteworthy venture investments there in the space of a few months. In October 2010, he invested $3 million in online accounting firm Xero, which is based (and publicly traded) in New Zealand. Then he invested $4 million in Pacific fibre, an ambitious company that is building a fibre-optic cable from Australia to New Zealand to the US and is raising $300-400 million more to do so.
These investments aren’t just one-offs. Thiel has set up a local venture firm called Valar Ventures. Valar Ventures LP was registered in New Zealand in July 2009, more than a year before Thiel’s first known New Zealand investment, and is managed by Valar Capital Management LLC, based in San Francisco, according to official records. Valar Ventures LP’s offices are at prominent New Zealand law firm Bell Gully, which suggests it doesn’t have full time staff yet. Peter Thiel founded two other companies in New Zealand: Second Star Limited, where he is sole shareholder, and Silverarc Advisors.
The people associated with these New Zealand companies, all of them close associates of Thiel at his hedge fund Clarium Capital, show how serious Thiel is about New Zealand. Valar Capital Management is managed by Nathan Linn, VP of Finance at Clarium. On the boards of Thiel’s New Zealand companies are Matt Danzeisen, Principal at Clarium, James Fitzgerald, COO and General Counsel at Clarium, and Andrew McCormack, VP Corporate Development at Clarium and previously Thiel’s assistant at PayPal.
The article also reports on the libertarian philosophy that underpins his business operations. It seems that he can’t set up the libertarian state he wants in the US, so has looked to NZ with it’s open door, “free-market” legislation.
Thiel is very libertarian, and New Zealand already has some of the most free-market policies in the world. Thiel is also a donor to the Seasteading Institute, a foundation that wants to create libertarian self-sustaining colonies out at sea. A popular libertarian cause is the “Free State Project” to get tens of thousands of libertarians to emigrate to New Hampshire and take over the government democratically to reshape the state according to libertarian ideals.
Thiel also has given promising young people financial incentives to drop out of college, in the form of Thiel Foundation Fellowships, as reported in the Huffington Post‘.
Thiel and Palantir (whose software customers include “many branches of the US government, especially in the intelligence community, and recently JP Morgan“) were also in the spotlight for having contributed to a plan to oppose Wikileaks back in 2011. Thiel rebutted the claims that he was involved in developing cyber attack systems:
[Palantir CEO] Karp also personally apologizes to Glenn Greenwald, a Salon.com journalist who is a noted supporter of Wikileaks and who is specifically named by the document as a potential target.
Palantir cyber-technologies have also been used by the US military in places like Afghanistan.
It didn’t take me long to find this stuff online.
What more is there to learn about the person, who John Key praises for his philanthropy, and who, as with pre-GCSB Ian Fletcher, John Key has met once or twice, but can’t remember exactly when and where?