Thiel says most of his money to Bay Area start-ups goes to landlords or 'urban slumlords'

  • Thiel said too much start-up money in San Francisco goes to pay for rent.
  • He's long bitcoin but skeptical of other cryptocurrencies.

Peter Thiel, who is moving from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, said that rents in and around San Francisco are too high to keep attracting the best start-ups.

The majority of the capital that Thiel deploys to Silicon Valley start-ups goes to landlords and "urban slumlords," Thiel said during a conversation Thursday at the Economic Club of New York.

The venture capitalist and early Facebook investor spoke on a wide range of topics during a lunch at the club, including cryptocurrencies, his lawsuit against Gawker, U.S. trade with China, and President Trump's re-election chances.

Thiel is a well-known bitcoin enthusiast, but he said his optimism doesn't necessarily extend to crypto in general.

"I'm long bitcoin, and neutral to skeptical on everything else," Thiel said. He added that he's "not exactly sure I would encourage people to run out right now and buy cryptocurrency," since the technology's use as a long-term store of value has yet to be proven.

Bitcoin shares with gold several strengths and weaknesses as an asset class, and could conceivably replace it as a store of value eventually, he said.

Thiel said he was "very proud to have supported Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit," against Gawker, saying that he had seen the now defunct news organization bully and mistreat people for a long time. Privacy still matters in the digital age, he said, though the question of what it is and how to protect it is as much a legal, social, and political question as a technological one.

He also drew parallels between how the Democrats are now treating President Trump and how the Republicans treated President Obama during his two terms — painting him in such an absurd way that they will turn off much of the electorate and thus assist in his re-election. He also speculated that many media personalities and late-night comedians were privately hoping for another Trump victory, as his first term so far has been excellent for TV ratings.