Sunday Afternoon: Linked and Loaded

George Packer Edition:

No Death, No Taxes: The libertarian futurism of a Silicon Valley billionaire. (Gated)

PROFILE of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Peter Thiel, an entrepreneur who runs both a hedge fund and a venture-capital firm, was waiting for a table at Café Venetia, in downtown Palo Alto, California. Ten years ago, Thiel met his friend Elon Musk for coffee in the same spot, and decided that PayPal, the company they had helped found, should go public. Soon after the initial public offering, in 2002, PayPal was sold to eBay for one and a half billion dollars, and Thiel’s take was fifty-five million.

All the Angry People (Ungated)

The protesters in Zuccotti Park were angry about things that Kachel recognized from his own life: the injustice of an economic system in which the rich and the powerful sucked the life out of the middle class. He had long felt critical of the big banks, the oil companies, the huge corporations that didn’t pay taxes. Fracking, the hydraulic extraction of natural gas, was a particular concern of Kachel’s. He was also an obsessive follower of Rachel Maddow—he loved her wit, her agreeableness—and Occupy Wall Street was starting to come up on her cable news program.

The Politics of Dissolution

You can’t get much further apart on the socio-economic ladder than Peter Thiel and Ray Kachel. The former is a Silicon Valley billionaire entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and hedge-fund manager, with sharply conservative-libertarian views; the latter is, currently, a homeless man in New York City, with left-wing politics and about two dollars to his name. It was coincidence, not the urge to make an obvious point about inequality in America, that landed my Profiles of Thiel and Kachel in successive issues of the magazine.


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