Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel is stepping down from the board of Facebook’s parent company Meta, the company said on Monday.
According to multiple reports, Thiel is shifting his focus to helping elect Republican candidates that support the agenda of former President Trump as the nation approaches midterm elections in November.
The exit of one of Meta’s most notable and most politically visible board members comes as Facebook deals with yet another crisis. The company has faced concerns over its future focus and its ability to rekindle advertising infrastructure amidst a crackdown on user privacy.
Thiel has been with Facebook since its beginning. He was its first outside investor and one of its original board members. He joined the company in April 2005 after personally investing $500,000 for just over 10% equity in the startup.
He became a mentor and friend of Meta’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who credits Thiel for offering him guidance. Thiel has also been credited as the mastermind behind Zuckerberg’s secure and rooted leadership role due to the way shares of Facebook are distributed.
“I’m deeply grateful for everything he has done for our company; from believing in us when few others would, to teaching me so many lessons about business, economics, and the world,” Zuckerberg said.
Meta, Facebook’s parent corporation, said that Thiel would not seek re-election to the board at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Zuckerberg said, “We’ve always known that at some point he would devote his time to other interests.”
The other interests of Thiel are political, according to a report in The New York Times.
Thiel has been associated with right-wing advocacy and was an advisor to former President Donald Trump. He is now leaving Facebook to focus more of his time and attention on the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.
Thiel has continued to support Republican candidates running for office. He invested more than $10 million into a super PAC that supports J.D. Vance, who’s running for U.S. Senate in Ohio in 2022.
Blake Masters, Thiel’s chief operating officer at Thiel Capital, is currently making a bid for U.S. Senator in Arizona. Politico reported in April that Thiel cut a $10 million check to a super PAC supporting Masters.