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What You Should Know / December 5, 2011 -- Thiel co-founded Palantir Technologies, whose software helps government agencies track down terrorists, fraudsters, and other criminals, in 2004, and he invested thirty million dollars in it. Palantir is now valued at two and a half billion dollars, and Thiel is the chairman of the board. He might be the most successful technology investor in the world. The information age has made Thiel, aged forty-four, rich, but it has also been a disappointment to him. It hasn’t created enough jobs, and it hasn’t produced revolutionary improvements in manufacturing and productivity. Thiel—who grew up middle class, earned degrees from Stanford and Stanford Law School, worked at a white-shoe New York law firm and a premier Wall Street investment bank—holds élites in contempt.

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