Bloomberg Businessweek – Thiel-Backed 1517 Fund Is Stalking the Next Zuckerberg

Posted in In the Press

Is a college degree a requirement for success? And how do investors find the next Zuckerberg? Our own Will Hunsinger chimes in inside this fascinating Bloomberg story about a new venture fund with a twist, including gifts, advice, and a party circuit for “social geeks.” Still, as Will can attest from his years as an entrepreneur, true talent is hard to find.

(Bloomberg Businessweek) Thiel-Backed 1517 Fund Is Stalking the Next Zuckerberg 

Keynote addresses at hackathons can reliably be expected to include certain buzzwords and catchphrases: innovate, iterate, optimize, Fritos. So Danielle Strachman stood out at one in San Diego earlier this fall, when she got onstage and asked the thousand-odd coders in attendance to join her in a guided meditation. Quiet yourselves, she said. Focus on your breathing. Connect with your bodies. Join the movement. Her high-stress audience proved receptive, she recalls. “I could hear the sound in the room go down.”

If this sounds a little cultish, well, it is. Joining the movement means forsaking a formal education to start a company in the manner advocated by Peter Thiel, the Stanford J.D. who co-founded PayPal and Palantir. Strachman and business partner Mike Gibson have spent much of the past decade preaching the gospel of entrepreneurship as co-heads of the Thiel Fellowship, which awards $100,000 grants to about two dozen college-age students each year on the condition that the kids drop out to start companies. Until this year, when Thiel helped kill gossip site Gawker and became Donald Trump’s biggest fan in Silicon Valley, it was his most public hobbyhorse.

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