Strategy · Entrepreneurship

What is the impact of having someone like Peter Thiel on your board?

sofia tabassum Attended Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology (NTI)

October 30th, 2016

Today I was able to read a very interesting article in the New York Times (read it here) covering the support of Peter Thiel towards Trump's political campaign. Moreover, he financed the lawsuit to shut down Gawker as you will be able to find inside that same article.

Some folks are now taking it to Twitter and demanding changes in companies where Thiel has some form of involvement such as Facebook or Y Combinator where he is a board member and partner.

How can having someone with that type of profile, which includes a ton of controversy, affect your company? Is there any positive value that can come out of all this coverage? Especially if this individual is a member of your board of directors...

I am wondering the above keeping in mind putting together a powerful board of directors for my company. Perhaps this discussion can also be beneficial to others looking into building a solid corporate structure.
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Alf Poor Chief Operating Officer at Global Data Sentinel

October 30th, 2016

While I can't be certain if you introduced Peter Thiel as a subject for your own visibility, or out of genuine interest, I am going to try to look past any superfluous motivations and try to answer you subjectively. We live in the real world. And, in the real world, Peter Thiel is one of the outstanding entrepreneurs of our time. If he has a flaw, it's that he's (apparently) something of an ideologist around things that are important to him, and he's not shy to promote them. In terms of doing business in the U.S. and beyond, having Mr. Thiel as an investor would be nothing but advantageous - probably for many of the same reasons you think he's controversial. By that I mean he's committed to what he believes in, at least as much as I have read. Rather than controversial, I see him more more an individual committed to his convictions in an increasingly hypocritical society, whether or not you or I subscribe to his thinking. In terms of supporting your start-up, there's probably very few better to be

Martin Omansky Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional

October 30th, 2016

I would avoid such a controversial board member. Sent from my iPhone

Craig Rothenberg Founder, CEO, Rothenberg Communications LLC

October 30th, 2016

Increasingly, Executive Committees, Management Boards and the like are holding companies and their management accountable for the reputations of their companies. Arguably, it's on more Management and Board dashboards than at any point in the past. This is due to the growing and enlightened realization that there is a direct link between a company's reputation and how it is valued. To wit, according to the Reputation Dividend, more than 25% of a company's market value can be attributed to its reputation.

That means doing the right thing and associating with the "right" people. On the latter, selection of appropriate Board members and company leaders hold greater weight than ever before, and rightly so. With so many qualified and capable people from which to choose, and politics aside, why would anyone opt for a P. Thiel?


Chuck Bartok Social Media Consultant, Publisher, and Contrarian Curmudgeon

October 30th, 2016

WOW........
Has the business community become so spineless?
One of the first thing we look at from a potential customer or vendor is the Character of their management and leadership.
I do not have to agree with their positions, but if they lack Character and express wishy washy attitudes to "satisfy" everyone they are most probably poorly managed and could not deliver.
Maybe that is why so many of these Start ups just wither away.
No steel!

Irwin Stein Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.

October 30th, 2016

Board members either assist in running the company or lend their reputation to the company's efforts. We used to refer to the latter as "window dressing".  The controversy does not trouble me personally, but if it may trouble potential customers, then I would say avoid it.

Peter Weiss President at American Outlook, Inc.

October 30th, 2016

Someone like Peter Thiel as an investor is a significant endorsement for your business.  Someone like Peter Thiel deeply involved with managing or our setting direction for your company is a very different issue.  

Given Thiel's track record and reputation as an investor I'd be comfortable with him as a shareholder; given the controversies with which he's become involved you would need to consider carefully whether the costs (possible red flag for potential hires and customers and distraction for your leadership team) are worth the benefits of having a very smart, experienced and well-connected person closely tied in.