Anti-College Crusader Peter Thiel Backtracks, Then Reverses Again

Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel

Remember Peter Thiel? The billionaire venture capitalist and PayPal creator has made a lot of headlines over the past few years for his contrarian opinions -- and his willingness to put money behind them. Creator of the Founder's Fund, a group dedicated to funding "bold, audacious ideas," he has become known for his involvement in the Seasteading Institute, a group that seeks to build artificial islands where the superwealthy can live --and rule. Not surprisingly, the outspoken libertarian also gave $1.7 million to Ron Paul's presidential campaign.

Yet, of all Thiel's pet projects, none has drawn the interest and ire of the public quite as much as his battle against higher education. An outspoken critic of the college bubble, in 2011, he unveiled the Thiel Fellowship. Essentially a reverse-scholarship program, the Fellowship selects 20 promising college-aged students per year and pays them $100,000 each to start their own businesses. The catch: They have to agree to stay out of school for at least two years.

Thiel's principled resistance to college has drawn approval from many higher education critics, but a recent job listing for Thiel Capital, his "start-up macro hedge fund," suggests that, at least when it comes to hiring people, Thiel may not be putting his money where his mouth is. Yesterday, Slate columnist Matthew Yglesias wrote about Thiel's listing for an investment analyst position, which called for applicants with a "high GPA from a top-tier university." Following Yglesias' article and a follow-up by Fortune, a revised version of the application appeared today. It calls for "Quantitative skills in a field such as computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics, or engineering," but notes that "no college degree required."

While Thiel's feelings on college education may be conflicted, one thing is for certain: He pays attention to headlines.

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at@bruce1971.