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The Rise of "The Shadow President"

Written By Alexandra Perry

Posted March 1, 2017

It seems only apt that Peter Thiel’s employees have nicknamed him “The Shadow President” — not because of the tech mogul’s devotion to Lord of the Rings, but because Thiel is now calling major shots in Washington.

It is no secret that Thiel’s role on Trump’s transition team was pivotal. He was present through most of Trump’s campaign. At points, he even offered up leaders from his own VC firm Mithril Capital to help Trump on the campaign trail.

Thiel orchestrated the meeting of the tech giants, bringing Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg, Tim Cook, and Jeff Bezos to Trump Tower.

Trump’s initial meeting with major tech players set the tone for his future interactions with the industry during his presidency…

A tone that, as many people are now noticing, perfectly fits Thiel’s ambitions and goals.

So who is actually pulling the strings?

Thiel seems to yield more power than a simple “friend” of the administration. The Trump presidency could be sitting on Thiel’s and Steve Bannon’s shoulders.

One thing is certain: Thiel’s rise to power is good for tech and tech investors. Thiel favors deregulation for tech companies. He believes the only way we can have a technological revolution is by not hindering major industries with excessive government regulation.

His point holds true. Government regulation has tripped up many unicorns on their rise to power — Uber, Airbnb, the entire drone industry…

Thiel has begun to challenge regulation by sneaking his friends into powerful positions. The managing director of Mithril Capital, Jim O’Neill, is being considered as the head of the FDA — a major role for someone with no government (or medical) experience. Thiel’s aide Kevin Harrington is now serving on the National Security Council. Mark Woolway, Thiel’s pal from his early PayPal days, has been placed in the Treasury Department.

Well executed, Shadow President.

It is too early to anticipate Thiel’s full plans for Silicon Valley during Trump’s presidency. But these placements will help move the deregulation agenda, freeing up industries like digital health care, self-driving cars, and drones. So keep an ear to the ground, tech investors. Good things are coming.