LA, Really? For a True Escape from Silicon Valley, Thiel Should Come Here
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel finally has given up on Silicon Valley because his conservative politics -- he was a big supporter of Donald Trump's presidential campaign -- became such an ill fit for the regnant progressivism there that Thiel no longer could tolerate not only doing business in the Valley but even living there.
But the tech industry's most prominent political conservative is decamping for ... Los Angeles. Why?: It's on the same coast as Silicon Valley and uniformly progressive as well, only in a different way.
Seems Thiel really should have looked to Flyover Country as a place to land, maybe picking one of the proliferating number of metropolises between the coasts that are beginning to qualify as tech havens.
Columbus, Indianapolis, Nashville, Madison, Ann Arbor, even Austin or Chicago -- any of them would have given Thiel a great reception and could benefit tremendously from his arrival.
Just look at how business leaders in Indianapolis, for example, found a way to accommodate the liberal politics and progressive culture of Salesforce.com and CEO Marc Benioff. Salesforce bought a big operation in Indy called Exact Target five years ago, but Salesforce's commitment to the city was endangered in 2015 after the state legislature passed its Religious Freedom law.
CEOs and other corporate and civic leaders huddled to come up with an amendment that explicitly protected sexual orientation and gender identity, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Bob Stutz told me that this reaction was key to the company's growing love affair with Indianapolis.
Anyway, Thiel no longer could tolerate the draconian Silicon Valley culture that he helped shape. He still has ties to dozens of top startups there, according to the Wall Street Journal. Thiel and uber-progressive Elon Musk, now head of Tesla and SpaceX, co-founded PayPal there. Thiel even has been a director of Facebook since 2005, the year after its founding.
But sources told the newspaper that he's increasingly disaffected by the intolerant, left-leaning politics of the San Francisco Bay Area and increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for tech businesses amid greater risk of regulation. Other entrepreneurs also told the newspaper that they've left or plan to leave the Valley for similar reasons.
If they really want to escape the same-ism of Silicon Valley, however, LA presents only another side of the same coin. True freedom would mean escaping to one of the growing tech jewels in Flyover Country.