Silicon Valley has largely been averse to Donald Trump, but a venture capitalist with close ties to Peter Thiel will now be helping the president-elect. Trae Stephens, a principal at Thiel’s Founders Fund firm, has been tapped to join the Trump transition team.
Founders Fund principal joining transition team
The news was first reported last week by Bloomberg. A Founders Fund spokesperson confirmed to The Verge today that Stephens has joined the transition.
Stephens, who also worked at Thiel-founded data-mining company Palantir, will work on the Defense Department transition, a policy advisory role that does not mean he will take a position with the post-inauguration Trump administration. Palantir has long been a contractor with the United States government, sometimes providing controversial work for intelligence agencies, as well as work for the Defense Department. Founders Fund has also funded companies including SpaceX, and a job in the administration would likely raise conflict of interest questions for Stephens.
Thiel has been an outlier in the Valley for his support of Trump. The Facebook board member spent $1.25 million to support the then-Republican candidate’s campaign, causing friction both at Facebook and other businesses with links to the billionaire. Before the election, however, he claimed others in the tech industry had silently supported Trump.
One addition to the alignment between Trump and the Valley
Thiel has since been named to the Trump transition team, and last week, The Washington Post reported that he is attempting to form a Silicon Valley brain trust that would assist, and possibly join, the Trump administration. Stephens may be too close to Thiel to suggest how effective that effort will be, but he’s one more addition to the alignment between Trump and the Valley.