Peter Thiel, the tech industry magnate known among other things for co-founding PayPal and investing very early in Facebook, took home the VC of the Year award at the 6th annual Crunchies this week for his individual investments and his work with Founders Fund, the San Francisco venture capital firm he co-founded in 2005 focused on companies with “revolutionary technologies.”
I think Thiel is one of the most fascinating and forward-thinking people in technology today — and the business world overall — so I was really pleased to get the chance to talk with him backstage for a few minutes just after he collected his award.
We touched on a few topics in our short chat, including his “super-futuristic” funding focus and his iconoclastic approach toward changing the education system through his Thiel Fellowship program, so you should watch the whole four-and-a-half minute video. But I wanted to pull out one especially interesting thing he said when I asked what an entrepreneur should avoid doing when introducing a project to Thiel. He said:
“This is sort of a minor nit, but it’s one that I think is always a good one to be aware of. They shouldn’t say that there are a whole bunch of different things they could do with their product, all of which would be good. Normally you want just one thing that’s going to be fantastic. And so when you say, ‘We could do A, or B or C or D or E, and we could make money doing A or B or C or D or E,’ that’s often that you don’t really have a plan, which isn’t going to work.
It’s always better to have a plan. It’s one of the things I learned in chess: A bad plan is better than no plan.”
Peter is Clarium Capital’s President and the Chairman of the firm’s investment committee, which oversees the firm’s research, investment, and trading strategies. He is also a managing partner at The Founders Fund. Before starting Clarium, Peter served as Chairman and CEO of PayPal, an Internet company he co-founded in December 1998 and was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002. Prior to founding PayPal, Peter ran Thiel Capital Management , the predecessor to Clarium, which started with...