Mark Zuckerberg's interest in government puts his defence of Peter Thiel in a whole new light

Now that we have seen the texts sent between Facebook founder and investor Marc Andreessen discussing Zuckerberg’s desire to make sure his stock holdings do not prevent him from being able “to serve two years in government,” as Bloomberg reported, it casts new light on Zuckerberg’s relationship with Peter Thiel.

Thiel, like Andreessen, is a Facebook investor and a board member. He also funded Donald Trump’s election campaign and is now a member of the president-elect’s transition team. If anyone is able to get Zuckerberg a senior federal government appointment, it is Thiel.

There is no evidence that this is what Zuckerberg wants. The texts merely say Zuckerberg wants the door to government kept open, just in case.

But now look at the timeline:

Zuckerberg has expressed interest in political issues before: He wants to speed up the process of bring worldwide broadband access to the internet, for instance. That might require various rule changes in the telecoms industry, as it greatly impacts the broadband carriers that Facebook and WhatsApp are dependent on. He has also hosted a fundraiser for Trump supporter Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey and former head of Trump’s transition team. Zuckerberg once donated $100 million to Newark’s school system.

We don’t know that Zuckerberg actually wants a role in the Trump administration, of course. But we do know that Zuckerberg successfully defended Thiel during two periods when there was a pressure for him to be removed from the board.

Thiel now owes Zuckerberg a big favour. It will be interesting to see if Zuckerberg ever calls him for it.

This is a column. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.

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