A partner at venture capital firm Founders Fund, Thiel was Facebook's first outside investor. In 1998, Thiel co-founded PayPal and served as its chairman and chief executive officer until it was acquired by eBay in 2002. Thiel has also worked at investment bank Credit Suisse and law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.
In addition to PayPal, Thiel has been instrumental in funding some of the most notable startups over the last decade, including YouTube and LinkedIn. The German-born, California-raised billionaire is also something of an industry maverick. In 2010, he created the Thiel Fellowship, which awards $100,000 grants to aspiring entrepreneurs under 20 to skip college and pursue their goals.
Thiel's articles have appeared in Forbes, Policy Review and the Wall Street Journal, and he was an executive producer of the film Thank You for Smoking.
Born: Oct. 11, 1967, Frankfurt, Germany
Lives: San Francisco, CA
Education: Stanford University, B.A., Stanford Law School, J.D.
Relationship to Facebook
Thiel serves on Facebook's board. His $500,000 investment in 2004 represented 10.2 percent of the company at the time. He'll have to make do with the 1.7 percent (or $1.2 billion) it currently represents.
Current Occupation: Managing Partner, Founders Fund; President, Clarium Capital
Former Occupation: : PayPal, Credit Suisse, Sullivan & Cromwell