Peter Thiel Said to Join Trump’s Presidential Transition Teamby
Thiel to vet appointees, prioritize policies, people say
Eliminating waste, decreasing debt likely to top list
Venture capitalist Peter Thiel will join President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team, a move that solidifies the Facebook Inc. board member’s power and could help Silicon Valley have a say in the next administration.
Thiel, who was one of the few tech industry executives who supported the Republican candidate, will play a role in vetting presidential appointments and selecting which of Trump’s campaign promises will become the policies of America’s 45th president, according to people familiar with the discussions. Thiel’s title and precise role are still being determined, the people said. The Huffington Post earlier reported that Thiel would lead the transition team.
Speaking for Trump as a delegate at the Republican National Convention this summer and again a week before the election, Thiel echoed what had become a popular refrain among Trump’s electorate: government is broken and outsiders are the only ones who can fix it.
Thiel, 49, has publicly decried foreign wars, high debt and inefficient spending on defense, trade, health care and student debt. People familiar with the discussions of his role in a Trump administration say government waste will be one issue he will certainly put as a top priority for the president-elect.
In his quest to slice government spending, Thiel may seek to overhaul government procurement policies. Narrow requirements shaped by incumbent contractors, lengthy timelines and expensive compliance measures have all been frustrating for startups seeking to do business with Uncle Sam.
A change could be good for a range of technology companies, including his own. It would also bolster a 22-year-old law that was litigated for the first time last month when Palantir Technologies Inc., which he co-founded, won its lawsuit against the U.S Army and secured the right to compete for a software contract potentially worth billions of dollars.
Despite Thiel’s tech credentials -- he also co-founded PayPal and now backs around 200 startups through his Founders Fund and Mithril Capital -- he has not made the industry’s agenda his own.
Thiel’s support of Trump often drew scorn in left-leaning Silicon Valley and in some cases killed business deals. Trump’s position on restricting immigration and comments about women and minorities were especially repugnant to the tech community, which relies heavily on foreign-born workers and has made diversity a major priority in recent years.
Although Thiel called Trump’s comments about women "clearly offensive and inappropriate," he has remained silent about immigration and other policy issues worrying Silicon Valley including net neutrality and cash repatriation by larger tech companies with overseas accounts.
Thiel is traveling outside the country, which has delayed formalizing his role in the transition team. He couldn’t be reached for comment for this story; a Thiel spokesman declined to comment. Representatives from Trump’s campaign weren’t immediately available to comment.