Anti-College Crusader Peter Thiel Backtracks, Then Reverses Again

Peter ThielRemember Peter Thiel? The billionaire venture capitalist and PayPal creator has made a lot of headlines over the past few years for his contrarian opinions -- and his willingness to put money behind them. Creator of the Founder's Fund, a group dedicated to funding "bold, audacious ideas," he has become known for his involvement in the Seasteading Institute, a group that seeks to build artificial islands where the superwealthy can live --and rule. Not surprisingly, the outspoken libertarian also gave $1.7 million to Ron Paul's presidential campaign.

Yet, of all Thiel's pet projects, none has drawn the interest and ire of the public quite as much as his battle against higher education. An outspoken critic of the college bubble, in 2011, he unveiled the Thiel Fellowship. Essentially a reverse-scholarship program, the Fellowship selects 20 promising college-aged students per year and pays them $100,000 each to start their own businesses. The catch: They have to agree to stay out of school for at least two years.

Thiel's principled resistance to college has drawn approval from many higher education critics, but a recent job listing for Thiel Capital, his "start-up macro hedge fund," suggests that, at least when it comes to hiring people, Thiel may not be putting his money where his mouth is. Yesterday, Slate columnist Matthew Yglesias wrote about Thiel's listing for an investment analyst position, which called for applicants with a "high GPA from a top-tier university." Following Yglesias' article and a follow-up by Fortune, a revised version of the application appeared today. It calls for "Quantitative skills in a field such as computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics, or engineering," but notes that "no college degree required."

While Thiel's feelings on college education may be conflicted, one thing is for certain: He pays attention to headlines.

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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hi chet

Yes there was a time when a college degree meant something. Now they have simply become high priced diploma mills. When everybody has one then they become pretty much worthless and just because you HAVE the piece of paper doesn't mean you can actually DO anything.

I guess even McDonald's would rather have a Master of Business flipping burgers than a college drop out. And they let folks into college who aren't qualified to flip burgers.

I mean G. W. Bush graduated from Yale. That's sad, very sad.

May 16 2012 at 6:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Well I support his idea of building islands where only Republians and Tea Pary members can live they then can fight among themselves over how to govern and pay for there own public service. This would allow us who have inteligence and an understanding of how geoverment is supposed to work actully work for a better goverment that actully listens to its poulation and now just a small minority of ego heads!

May 16 2012 at 5:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stephen's comment

You can't even spell. How intelligent do you think you are?

September 20 2012 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Shut up rich white guy!! who listen to you?

May 16 2012 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick Miller

I had a great time in college. Is 62 too late to go back?

May 16 2012 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Nick Miller's comment

If you can afford it go back to college man.

May 16 2012 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hi chet

I went when I was almost 30. The amount of stupidity was almost overwhelming.

May 16 2012 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We need more tradespeople like plumbers, electricians and masons. College guarantees nothing but a bunch of loans. Be smart and learn to work with your hands.

May 16 2012 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply


May 16 2012 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Common mistake - overlooking that a college education actually educates you. You make better decisions. You become a better citizen.

May 16 2012 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Typical Libertarian rich white guy - no ethics, pure phony.

May 16 2012 at 10:56 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cazsue's comment

And you know damn well that whether they pulled it out of the help-wanted ad or not, the guy with the 2.8 GPA from Hoboyken Junior College is not going to get the job. The same high GPA from an Ivy League school will still be required; it will just be unspoken.

May 16 2012 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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