- Peter Thiel, an influential investor who drew ire from many in the tech community due to his fervent support for President Donald Trump, has left his role at Y Combinator.
- Thiel joined the startup accelerator in 2015 as an advisor in its “part-time partner” program.
- Last year, Y Combinator president Sam Altman defended the company’s relationship to Thiel, saying “YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.”
Peter Thiel, a powerful tech investor who was an early and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, is no longer working with the startup incubator Y Combinator.
Thiel, who is an influential but contentious figure in the tech community, started as a part-time advisor with Y Combinator in 2015. His departure was announced without much to-do through an updated blog post on the Y Combinator website that said simply: “Peter Thiel is no longer affiliated with Y Combinator.”
The change was first noticed and brought to light on Thursday in a tweet by Gab — a social network popular with members of the “alt-right.” In late 2016, Gab’s founder Andrew Torba was kicked out of Y Combinator’s program for violating the accelerator’s harassment policy. The story was first reported on BuzzFeed.
It’s not clear why Thiel and Y Combinator have ended their relationship. Representatives for Thiel and Y Combinator did not respond to a requests for comment.
Though one of several people involved in a “part-time partners” program, Thiel caused trouble for Y Combinator as the political divisiveness of the 2016 presidential election wore on. In October 2016, Y Combinator president Sam Altman tweeted that the company was “not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.”
Thiel, who cofounded PayPal and was one of the first investors in Facebook through his Founders Fund VC firm, joined Y Combinator in 2015 as part of its part-time partner program, which brought in outside advisors to help guide startups being developed in the incubator.
Other part-time partners at the time included Groupon founder Andrew Mason, Stripe cofounder Patrick Collison, and Homejoy founder Adora Cheung.
Altman wrote at the time of Thiel’s hire that the company looked past a rule preventing people involved with outside investing firms from participating in the advisor program but that “Peter is so good we felt like we had to make an exception.”
“On a personal note, Peter is one of the two people…who has taught me the most about how to invest in startups,” Altman wrote. “I am confident that Peter joining will be great for YC.”
3) Thiel is a high profile supporter of Trump. I disagree with this. YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.
— Sam Altman (@sama) October 17, 2016