I’m Really Not Crazy; I Just Want to Help Some Kids

Two weeks ago, billionaire Peter Thiel was savaged in a widely read Slate story that called him a “hyper-Libertarian” with an “appalling plan to pay students to quit college.”

It wasn’t the first time that Thiel has been dumped on by media observers. The 42-year old—who made his first fortune as a PayPal cofounder and now oversees a New York-based hedge fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, and sits on several startups’ boards, including Facebook—has numerous interests that make him an easy target.

The newest of these, and the overwhelming focus of Slate’s scorn, is the Thiel Fellowship, a program that plans to give $100,000 to 20 applicants under age 20 to “stop out of school” and pursue any entrepreneurial ambitions they might harbor.

Slate called the idea “nasty,” and an effort for Thiel to “clone” himself, and though it seemed that Slate grossly overstated its case, I didn’t particularly understand the need for the program, either. Thiel tried to explain it to me yesterday. Our conversation, edited for length, follows.

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About markjeee

Entrepreneur, Programmer, Run-Bike Athlete
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