Peter Thiel's powerful tech network reportedly predates PayPal and goes back to a college newspaper

Key Points
  • Nearly two dozen people who worked at the Stanford Review also have ties to data-security firm Palantir.
  • The $20 billion start-up has worked for multiple federal agencies, including the NSA and CIA.
  • Thiel is reportedly in line for a Trump advisory board charged with overseeing the American intelligence community.
Venture capitalist Peter Thiel of the Founders Fund and other technology executives and leaders attend the inaugural meeting of the American Technology Council in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House June 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Peter Thiel has connections across Silicon Valley thanks to ties he forged as co-founder and CEO of payments company PayPal more than 15 years ago.

Dubbed the "PayPal Mafia," the group includes some of the region's most successful entrepreneurs, such as Tesla founder Elon Musk, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Yammer founder David Sacks, Affirm founder and CEO Max Levchin and many more.

But a new report from a Stanford University student news site points to a bigger and more powerful Thiel network -- one that dates back to his days as a college student in 1987.

As an undergraduate at Stanford, Thiel co-founded a libertarian newspaper called the Stanford Review. According to a story in the latest issue of Stanford Politics, a rival publication, some 23 former editors or staffers from Thiel's paper are connected to data analytics start-up Palantir, either as a current or former employee or board member.

The secretive software company in , California, near the Stanford campus, is valued at $20 billion.

Palantir has done work with more than a dozen U.S. federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the NSA and the CIA, whose venture arm was among the company's earliest investors. Palantir's technology gathers information from public and private databases and examines it to find patterns and anomalies that can prove useful to its clients.

Thiel's Palantir could aid in immigration crackdown
Thiel's Palantir could aid in immigration crackdown

Three of the five Palantir co-founders — Thiel, Joe Lonsdale and Stephen Cohen — served as editors-in-chief of the Review, which has advocated a conservative or libertarian agenda throughout its three decades.

According to Forbes, more of Thiel's wealth is derived from his stake in Palantir than from his early investment in Facebook, which made him a billionaire.

Now, Thiel and the Stanford alums at Palantir, already a force in technology and government, could be in a position to gain more influence over America's national security apparatus.

Thiel reportedly is being considered by President Trump for a position on the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, which is tasked with providing oversight of America's intelligence community. Thiel was previously part of Trump's transition team, and in June Palantir CEO Alex Karp joined a group of tech CEOs in a meeting with Trump at the White House.

Karp has said he would prefer to keep Palantir private, rather than going the IPO route, a move that would shield its finances from public scrutiny.

An email sent to a Thiel spokesperson did not receive a reply.