Peter Thiel’s support of Donald Trump has brought other Silicon Valley supporters out of the woodwork, he says.
The billionaire tech investor gave a speech on Monday at the National Press Club where he discussed his political values and support of the Trump campaign.
The PayPal and Palantir founder previously endorsed Trump in a speech at the Republican Nation Convention and donated $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign in October.
Following his speech on Monday, Thiel answered several questions from National Press Club President Thomas Burr. The questions ranged from public policy to Silicon Valley, which is when he talked about the reaction he’s received since publicly endorsing Trump.
Thiel said he’s gotten “a lot of pushback, to say the least,” but said his close friendships and business relationships remain intact. His public support has also caused others to come out to him as Trump supporters, he said.
“It has surfaced a small number of those people who all feel that they can’t say it in public,” he said. “They have been conjured out of the ether.”
Thiel said while he felt comfortable publicly supporting an “outsider candidate,” others were hesitant to make their support public. He said that while he’s always considered Silicon Valley a liberal, democratic place, he’s been surprised by how polarised the Valley has become.
“I really didnt think that there would be this sort of a visceral reaction,” Thiel said. “It’s surprising to me that anybody would say that you’re beyond the pale for taking a position that’s held by half the country.”
Thiel said his business has not been impacted in “any meaningful way” since endorsing Trump, and described his endorsement of Trump as one of the most ordinary things he’s ever done.
“This is the first time that I’ve done something that actually feels conventional,” Thiel said. “But it’s been the most controversial thing ever.”