Trump's victory showed just how unhappy people are with globalization, he said.
"I'm naturally inclined to think of it in those terms," said Thiel. "There's something around globalization that's not been working that well."
Thiel's comments came Tuesday night at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston.
The movement of people and goods is becoming more difficult through immigration and trade restrictions, said Thiel. Western Europe and other places are tightening regulations, creating headwinds for global banks and tech companies, he added.
"The internet was designed to survive a nuclear war, but even so, I think there are a lot of regulatory challenges that Silicon Valley will be facing from Western Europe and elsewhere in the years ahead," he said.
People in Silicon Valley are complacent about the march toward global expansion, he said.
"There's a technological determinism story you can tell where this is the future and China will eventually buckle under and cave and eventually adopt all of these things," he said. "But then you might wonder, maybe this doesn't happen at all, and maybe it's possible for the internet to actually fragment and not to have this historical necessity to it."
No one in their right mind would start an organization with the word "global" in its title today, he said. "That's so 2005, it feels so dated," he said. To illustrate the point, Thiel took aim at the annual Davos World Economic Forum.
"A decade ago, this was a group of people who were running the world," he said. "And now, it's just a group of people who messed up the world."
Thiel gave a shoutout to CNBC's Jim Cramer, quoting him as saying, "There's always a bull market somewhere, you just need to find it." Thiel is beginning to agree with a colleague on this thesis: "We're now in a bull market in politics," he said.
"I'm not sure this is a good thing," said Thiel. "But it is a fact that maybe politics is becoming more important, it's becoming more intense, the range of outcomes is becoming greater, and that we're in a world in which there's a bull market in politics that's getting started."