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One of Meta's Most Controversial Board Members Is Leaving, Potentially to Support Trump-Aligned Political Candidates

Some of his contrarian ideas include encouraging young people to opt out of college and arguing that entrepreneurs should strive for monopolies in his 'New York Times' bestseller 'Zero to One.'

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Peter Thiel, one of Meta's longest-serving board members, will step down later this year, the company said Monday. Thiel, 54, has been a member of the company's board of directors since 2005 and will continue to serve until the company's 2022 annual stockholder meeting, at which time he will not stand for reelection.

Thiel, long a controversial figure in Silicon Valley, co-founded PayPal and data-analytics firm Palantir Technologies, and is a partner at venture capital firm Founders Fund. He was an early investor in Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and other heavy-hitting tech firms. Some of his contrarian ideas include encouraging young people to opt out of college and arguing that entrepreneurs should strive for monopolies in his New York Times bestseller Zero to One.

Politico calls Thiel's political worldview "a mishmash of libertarianism and nationalism that has led to his interest in cryptocurrency, funding of immigration hardliners, support for seasteading — floating autonomous ocean communities that are not subject to government regulations or taxes," noting that while most public figures tried to distance themselves from Donald Trump in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Thiel emerged as one of his most powerful supporters.

Related: Meta Pays $60 Million to Meta Financial Group for Name Rights

In 2016, when Thiel's $1.25 million donation to Trump's campaign incensed Silicon Valley, Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg came to his defense, saying on an internal post, "we can't create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate." Now, as Thiel plans for his exit, Zuckerberg continues to be vocal in his support, saying Thiel is "truly an original thinker" who is leaving to "devote his time to other interests."

Those other interests likely include politics, as midterm elections draw near in the U.S. On Monday, the New York Times reported that Thiel intends to back candidates who support former President Donald Trump's agenda, per an unnamed source with insider knowledge.

Meta will lose the most outspoken conservative voice on its board when Thiel leaves. The company faces serious challenges ahead, as it is already under fire for censoring conservative voices (despite a lack of credible, non-partisan reporting to support such claims) and has been experiencing staganting user growth and regulatory scrutiny.

Related: Meta Plans Physical Stores to Showcase Its Virtual- and Augmented-Reality Devices

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