Peter Thiel returns to CNBC Squawk on the Street

13 Oct

Remember last time Peter Thiel appeared on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street? Well this morning he was back to address that infamous Twitter comment as well as opinions on opportunities in the market and more. Staying on the Thiel beat, here’s a quick recap of this morning’s chat.

Airbnb and Uber

He says Airbnb is rapidly growing and is undervalued, whereas Uber is overvalued because it’s a company investors understand. Investors like car services, they don’t like sleeping on other people’s couches, Thiel said. [AIrbnb is awesome, but let’s also remember that Thiel invested in Airbnb, not Uber.]

That PayPal/Ebay split
Thiel said it was a natural split and PayPal will be alone for a while. Seems like they’re another partnership that’s consciously uncoupled. He predicts a lot of expansion in the mobile payment industry. While numerous solutions are possible, the hard part is customer adoption. As for disrupting the big credit cards, they are mainly driven by the credit system which is growing.

Palantir Technologies

They aren’t going public anytime soon, Thiel said it’s better for companies to stay private to reinvest in the company and grow without having to answer to Wall Street.

“You can really definitively prove you’ve done well by going public, but it’s best to stay public for longer,” he said, adding that all companies should stay private for a while.

Those Twitter comments

He said his quote missed the positive side of his point.

“Twitter is a great company,” Thiel said. “Sometimes when you have these great monopolies they don’t have to be managed perfectly and they still work. If you have an idea that’s really good you can often be a little bit sloppier with other things.”

Thoughts on cyber security

“It’s going to be an ongoing problem,” he said. “So much commerce is happening on the internet and people often have no good intuition on how poor our security is.” 

He said it’s mainly a software challenge, not a defense issue.

The squawkers asked, since the price has slumped, will he still buy? He said he has mixed feelings. Bitcoin works for currency but not on the actual payment system – and that needs to work. PayPal got the payment system right even though it didn’t work as a new currency (which was actual Thiel’s original goal).

Elon Musk

Do they have a competitive relationship? (Even these nerdy techies aren’t immune to gossip).
“I would not even try to compete with Elon he’s in a class of it’s own,” Thiel said, adding that his fund is the largest outside investors in SpaceX.

Politics – had he chosen sides?
He said he’s focusing on tech – “It’s endlessly frustrating, tech is where people can really make a difference,” Thiel said.


Thiel talks about solving secrets in his book, and the squawkers pushed him to get more into that. He stayed, well, secretive, saying these secrets don’t fit in large categories and aren’t learned at universities.
“It’s never thematic, always something very specific,” he said, refusing to feed the public any overhyped buzzwords.

Want more? Here’s a recap I wrote of a speech he gave in September that summed up his new book Zero to One. 

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