From a Business Insider article in the OIA papers:
“Thiel is an ambitious, long-term thinker, so what’s the big picture here? What could the contrarian investor see in a country of 4 million people whose economy is based on agriculture and tourism? Here’s a thought: maybe Peter Thiel wants to turn New Zealand into the next Silicon Valley. Or maybe even the libertarian utopia of his dreams.”
The name of Thiel’s firm Valar Ventures comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe. Thiel is a huge Tolkien fan and the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand. In Tolkien’s legendarium, the Valar are deities who created the world of Middle-Earth (portrayed by New Zealand in the movies) and then descended on it to help nurture its infancy and development.
Reached about this idea, Thiel said: “New Zealand is already utopia. But Silicon Valley and New Zealand can learn a lot from each other, and we want to help make that happen.” So Thiel is clearly in it for the long run.
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.
In an essay for the Cato Institute in 2009 Thiel wrote that “he no longer believed the democracy and freedom are compatible,” an idea that also drove Roger Douglas.
So maybe Thiel is just not about tech startups. We live in a world where billionaires have turned their attention to politics, in many cases to protect their billions. We’ve had our multi-millionaire flyaway Prime Minister; we should not think that Thiel will stop there.
The Economist says Thiel is now more of a corporate Nietzschean:
He is now not so much a libertarian as a corporate Nietzschean, who believes in the power of gifted entrepreneurs to change the world through the sheer force of will and intellect.
New Zealand is vulnerable. Thiel is not averse to using his wealth against critics such as shutting down website Gawker. It was disappointing to hear Rod Drury suggest we should put aside our ideals of fairness in order to be more “rational” and accommodate the likes of Peter Thiel. Drury also thinks we should be inviting Bill Gates in – who has donated $440 million to set up charter schools in the US.
As Thiel, a chess grandmaster, says in the article quoted above “you always have to look at the end game.” Libertarian Utopia New Zealand (for billionaires) anyone?