FORTUNE -- Last month I watched Peter Thiel publicly debate Google's (GOOG) Eric Schmidt like an abused pit bull debates a labradoodle. This came on the heels of a much talked-about 60 Minutes appearance, in which Thiel expounded on his libertarian values and why many college diplomas aren't worth the paper they're printed on. In short, he's a guy with lots of ideas who wants everyone to listen.
So you'd think he'd be happy to explain why he sold around 22 million shares of Facebook (FB) stock last week, as soon as a lock-up period had expired. After all, he's both the company's first outside investor (save for Mark Zuckerberg's father) and a board member. But you'd be wrong.
Thiel has suddenly gone quiet, refusing to answer questions from reporters. Both myself and a colleague reached out directly this week, but received no reply.
To be charitable, it's possible that Thiel is stuck in an undisclosed location without Internet access. After all, it must take forever for Verizon forever to hook up an artificial island nation.
But the sales occurred one week ago today, and Thiel's silence is deafening.
Did he sell because he thinks Facebook stock is appropriately priced at around $20 per share. Did he sell because he thinks $20 is a ceiling? Did he sell because of personal financial issues, or because of expected capital gains tax rate increases? Did he sell as part of some broader portfolio strategy? Did he sell on a dare?
None of this would necessarily matter if Thiel was just a large outside shareholder but, again, he's on the Facebook board of directors. As such, he has both access to inside information and a fiduciary responsibility to the company's other shareholders.
By selling so much stock last week at half of what the company was worth three months earlier, he seems to have enriched himself while simultaneously telling the market to look out below. How is that latter part in the best interest of other Facebook shareholders, many of whom also happen to be Facebook employees? How is it in the best interest of company morale when one of its leaders signals a lack of faith in its direction.
Again, perhaps Thiel could adequately resolve those contradictions by publicly explaining his decision. Or by stepping down from Facebook's board. In the meantime, Thiel's uncharacteristic reserve is hurting the company that helped make him a billionaire.
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Should Zuckerberg make a change?
FORTUNE -- Veteran venture capitalist Ann Winblad appeared on CNBC this afternoon, to comment on Peter Thiel's decision to sell approximately 20.1 million shares of Facebook (FB) stock last week.
Her two main points were:
1. There was nothing wrong with Thiel selling his shares, since the job of a venture capitalist is to generate returns.
2. Facebook should soon consider replacing Thiel as a board member. Not because MORE
Peter Thiel expands his investment focus.
FORTUNE -- Peter Thiel already has a hedge fund (Clarium Capital) and an early-stage venture capital fund (Founders Fund). Now he has a new tech-focused growth equity fund called Mithril, which last week closed on $402 million. According to a regulatory filing, the total target is upwards of $1 billion.
Limited partners include Allen & Co., which also served as placement agent.
Don't expect this to be another in MOREDan Primack - Jun 20, 2012 10:14 AM ET
FORTUNE -- Want to work for Peter Thiel's new macro-global hedge fund? Then you had better have a "high GPA from top-tier university," according to this job ad first spotted by Slate blogger Matt Yglesias.
This may not sound terribly surprising, unless you remember that Thiel has literally been paying top college students to drop out. Sure the goal was to identify promising young entrepreneurs rather than hedge fund analysts, MOREDan Primack - May 14, 2012 12:21 PM ET
By Alex Taussig, contributor
(I originally published this at my blog infinitetoventure.com. Go check it out!)
I attended a discussion with Peter Thiel yesterday at Harvard Business School. It was my second time hearing Peter speak in the last 12 months, and I find his brand of intellectual honesty quite refreshing in today's age of politicized, reinforced conformity. That doesn't mean I agree with everything he says, but you have to admire a guy who can MORESep 30, 2011 1:12 PM ET
Is higher education a prerequisite for entrepreneurship, or is it okay to encourage the best and brightest to drop out?
By Mark Suster, contributor
Several people have been asking me to weigh in publicly on the "20 under 20″ initiative announced by Peter Thiel, in which he will award up to $100,000 to 20 people under the age of 20 who agree immediately to pursue entrepreneurship (the implication of which is that MOREJun 2, 2011 9:51 AM ET
Before you start scrambling to get a piece of the Facebook pie, it's worth looking at a few glaring risk factors.
Excuse me for raining on the Facebook parade, but yesterday's news about the $450 million investment by Goldman Sachs (GS) and $50 million from Russia's Digital Sky Technology didn't move me the way it seemed to move others. This despite the suggested $50 billion valuation, as big and beautiful a MOREDuff McDonald, Contributing Editor - Jan 4, 2011 12:13 PM ET
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