PayPal Co-Founder Thiel to Teach Startup Course at Stanford

Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist and PayPal Inc. co-founder who has encouraged would-be entrepreneurs to drop out of college, will teach a lecture course at Stanford University on startups.

Thiel will instruct students in “Computer Science 183: Startup,” Mehran Sahami, an associate professor in the computer-science department, said in a telephone interview. His course is scheduled to begin next month and enrollment will be limited to 250, Sahami said.

Thiel, 44, who received undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford, became a billionaire with investments in PayPal, the Internet payment company now owned by EBay Inc.; gamemaker Zynga Inc.; and LinkedIn Corp. He now uses some of his wealth in his 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship program, which pays students as much as $100,000 each, over two years, to drop out of college and pursue startups. That doesn’t keep him from helping students pursuing a traditional education.

“He’s done it before and he actually participates quite frequently here,” said Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman for the university, which is based near Palo Alto, California.

Thiel, whose Founders Fund was the first outside investor in Facebook Inc. in 2004, is ranked No. 293 on a Forbes list in September of the richest Americans. The founder of Clarium Capital Management LLC also started the Thiel Foundation, which runs the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship program.

Thiel didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Jim O’Neill, a spokesman for Clarium, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call.

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