The Thiel Foundation Case Study 


In 1998, Peter Thiel cofounded PayPal with Max Levchin.  In 2002, Thiel sold PayPal, used his earnings to launch Founders Fund, and following subsequent investments, became a billionaire. Thiel believed that society was built on technological revolution, and he was frustrated by a de-prioritization of scientific progress.  This led to the creation of the Thiel Foundation.  The Foundation focused on three ventures: Imitatio, Breakout Labs and The Thiel Fellowship.  The Foundation’s investments were often controversial, which Thiel welcomed. 

This case is intended for use in a course on philanthropic innovation, social impact, or funding strategies.  This case highlights the Thiel Foundation's strategy across its seemingly disparate program areas.