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Thursday 27 October 2016

PayPal founder's €1.1m Donald Trump campaign donation leads to boycott calls

James Titcomb

Published 18/10/2016 | 09:36

Tech tycoon Peter Thiel funded the privacy suit
Tech tycoon Peter Thiel funded the privacy suit

Peter Thiel's $1.25m (€1.1m) donation to Donald Trump's presidential campaign has been met with calls to boycott PayPal, the online payments company he founded - despite Thiel no longer being affiliated with it.

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The billionaire tech investor and libertarian is a rare Trump backer in Silicon Valley, whose denizens have overwhelmingly backed Hillary Clinton. Thiel even spoke at the Republican National Convention, where he declared that Trump was the only candidate being "honest" about economic decline.

But Thiel's first donation to the campaign, which makes him one of a small group of wealthy individuals to financially support Trump, has sparked an instant backlash, with multiple calls to boycott PayPal on social media.

Thiel co-founded PayPal in the late 1990s, later merged it with Elon Musk's and the company went public before it was sold to eBay for $1.5bn in 2002.

Bu as many pointed out, Thiel has not had any affiliation with PayPal for years. He left when it was sold, and eBay spun it off last year.

Thiel has no public stake in PayPal but a much more significant interest in Facebook, having backed the social network from its early days. While he has sold most of his stock, Thiel still owns roughly $40m in Facebook shares and sits on the social network's board.

He also co-founded Palantir, the multi-billion dollar data analysis company used by the American military.

Sam Altman, the head of startup incubator Y Combinator, said he would stand by Thiel, a part-time partner at his firm, despite his support for Trump.

Thiel most recently faced controversy when it was revealed that he was financing Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, which bankrupted the website.

The investor was labelled a threat to press freedom for his secretive role in the case.

PayPal itself has been a vocal opponent of discrimination. Earlier this year it withdrew plans to open an operations centre in Charlotte, North Carolina over the state blocking anti-discrimination laws.

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