Facebook investor Peter Thiel launches $402 million global VC firm

Early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has used the fortune he made from Facebook’s IPO to launch a new $402 million venture capital firm, which is looking globally for potential deals.


Thiel, who invested $US500,000 in Facebook back in 2004, is also the co-founder of PayPal. When Facebook went public in May, Thiel sold some $640 million worth of shares.


Now he has launched venture capital firm Mithril Capital Management, which is based in San Francisco, with a $402 million fund.


While it’s unknown how much Thiel contributed to the fund, a statement issued yesterday confirmed he is the fund’s largest investor.


Thiel is well versed in the venture capital industry – he serves as the president of global macro hedge fund Clarium Capital, and is a managing partner in The Founders Fund.


He also has a presence locally. In March this year, Thiel set up a $40 million venture capital fund in partnership with the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.


Thiel contributed $15 million to this fund through his own venture capital firm Valar Ventures.


His new firm, Mithril Capital Management, is designed to sit somewhere between The Founders Fund, which typically focuses on earlier stage investments, and Clarium Capital.


The firm will be led by Thiel and former Clarium managing director Ajay Royan. It will target start-ups that have already raised some venture capital and are looking to ramp up significantly.


Thiel is known for his interest in markets such as biotechnology and space exploration. Similar to The Founders Fund, Thiel indicated Mithril will pursue start-ups tackling major problems.


“Technology holds the solution to most of the world’s most pressing challenges… A great achievement may require a decade of work, but a lifetime of vision,” Thiel said in a statement.


“Mithril will play a patient, focused and pivotal role in helping the world’s most outstanding creative minds solve vexing problems and build lasting companies.”


According to Royan, the firm is looking globally but isn’t interested in pre-IPO companies or those about to go public. He predicts the average investment will be upwards of $20 million.


“Two years ago, we were watching what was happening in the Valley and beyond. There is not enough capital in the intensive growth stage,” Royan said.


“We’re not looking for companies that are a done deal; we want companies that are about to hit a growth stage.”


According to Royan, many great inventions are “driven by a spirit of dissent and curiosity”.


“That spirit defines and pervades Silicon Valley, but it can be found everywhere in the world,” he said.


“Just as Sony inaugurated the age of personal media… and ARM redefined efficient mobile computing, Mithril companies, if we’re right, will foment changes that will seem inevitable after they happen.”


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