Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel is one of the world’s most well-respected entrepreneurs and business investors. He is the founder and CEO of PayPal, and was one of the earliest investors in Facebook. He is highly regarded as a thought leader on the topics of business, leadership, and innovation. He is also an outspoken disciple of the late Stanford sociologist, Rene Girard

Peter Thiel

During his time at Stanford, Thiel came under the influence of Rene Girard’s mimetic theory and discovery of cultural scapegoating, which fundamentally shaped Thiel’s understanding of human nature and business.

After Stanford, these core insights gave Thiel an uncanny ability to spot business opportunities where others saw none. In fact, his Girardian outlook helped him become one of the earliest investors in Facebook.

Throughout his career, he has maintained a close connection to his intellectual mentor. In his 2014 book on startups, Zero to One, Thiel describes a moment of mimetic enlightenment as he was building the company PayPal. He noticed how unclear job responsibilities were arousing internal rivalries and infighting among his employees. 

Therefore, using another Girardian insight, the power of distinctions and prohibitions, he made employees responsible for one thing, and one thing only. Result: the infighting ceased, which restored the company culture

Applying these principles across industries, Thiel continues to be one of the most effective investors and fluent practitioners of Girardian thought in the modern business world.