In fact, however, the investment companies of the once self-confessed Trump supporter are expanding their commitment on this side of the Atlantic. This is shown by an analysis of his investments, especially two current examples.
His investment company Valar Ventures, for example, is leading a new financing round of 21 million euros for the German commercial bank Moss, which previously operated under the name Vanta. With the latest capital injection, Moss comes to a valuation in the three-digit million range, according to co-founder and managing director Ante Spittler. “Moss wants to digitize corporate spending for companies that employ between 20 and 500 people,” Spittler told Handelsblatt.
The core product is an intelligent credit card. The customer has access to the Moss payment platform, on which he can order any number of physical and virtual credit cards for his employees and set spending limits. In addition, invoices can be uploaded to this platform and accounting can be simplified.
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Existing investors Cherry Ventures and Global Founders Capital also took part in the capital round. The company, which was only founded in 2019, has so far collected a total of 30 million euros.
The investment, which is to be officially reported on Thursday, is not Thiel’s most spectacular plan in Germany. According to the Bloomberg agency, the 53-year-old wants to participate in plans for lithium production in East Germany, which the German investor Christian Angermayer is promoting.
Both already know each other from other investments. You are investing in the Canadian Rock Tech Lithium project. The plant could be one of the first to go into operation in Europe as early as 2023. According to the report, Rock Tech is still looking for a location in Saxony or Saxony-Anhalt – close to VW’s electric car factories in Leipzig and the planned Tesla factory in Brandenburg. Thiel and Angermayer did not respond to inquiries.
Lithium for Tesla
The lithium investment would be unusual for Thiel, who mostly invests in software companies and fintechs. It wouldn’t be surprising if Elon Musk had anything to do with it. The Tesla boss is concerned with the supply of raw materials in the production of lithium-ion batteries.
Thiel describes Musk today as a “good friend”. The two companies once rivaled in the dot-com era and eventually merged their fintech companies to form Paypal, the basis for the wealth of both men.
In Europe, too, Thiels funds continue to invest primarily in fintechs, as an analysis by “Sifted” based on data from the provider “Dealroom” shows. Accordingly, he is now involved in 43 European start-ups. In Germany alone there are 13 – including bank N26. There Valar took part in three rounds. In the UK, Transferwise is the largest holding.
However, Thiel is also involved in other subject areas. For example, he invested in Angermayer’s German biotech subsidiary ATAI, which wants to further develop substances known as party drugs such as MDMA and ketamine as therapeutic agents. Also unusual is the participation in The Ocean Cleanup project by the young Dutchman Boyan Slat, who wants to free the oceans from plastic waste.
However, not all projects are successes. The list of German holdings includes the now marginalized social network StudiVZ and the Berlin Instagram competitor EyeEm, which has already had to reposition itself. Thiel was also one of the early investors in microcredit specialist Kreditech. The Hamburg fintech, which later renamed Monedo, ran into difficulties last year and became insolvent.
But Thiel can get over that. The billionaire’s investment empire is ramified. The core is his family office Thiel Capital, which his husband, the banker Matt Danzeisen, co-manages. The Founders Fund (FF), which is Thiel’s main investment vehicle, is primarily active in companies in Silicon Valley.
2020 was a particularly good year for the fund founded by Thiel: Airbnb, the delivery platform Doordash, the software company Asana and the big data analysis platform Palantir – the Founders Fund made money on almost every major tech IPO. FF will also be there in the next wave of eagerly anticipated IPOs: the financial services provider Stripe and Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX are among the FF investments.
Thiel was never completely Europe-averse at the Founders Fund, as early investments in the Swedish music streaming service Spotify, the British AI company Deepmind and Trade Republic show. Thiel’s fund for investments outside the US has always been mainly Valar Ventures: Thiel founded the investment company in 2012 with Andrew McCormack and James Fitzgerald. The two partners run the business from New York.
Thiel does not advise all founders
How much Thiel gets involved varies. At Moss, the founders and majority shareholders Anton Rummel, Ferdinand Meyer, Stephan Haslebacher and Spittler have only had contact with Valar boss Fitzgerald, who praised the company: “We see incredible potential in Moss and how its technology supports payment transactions and lending Company revolutionized. ”
The liquidity required for credit card transactions is provided by the cooperation partner Raisin Bank, which has a full banking license. Loans are not on offer, but Spittler can imagine enabling extended payment terms in the future.
Thiel is more active as an advisor at the broker Trade Republic. “Since Peter Thiel got on board with his Founders Fund, the founders have been in regular contact with their investor. In the corona crisis, as is usual with technology companies, the exchange takes place largely via digital channels, “said a spokeswoman.
Thiel primarily discusses strategic issues and questions relating to the company’s positioning with the founders. “Discussions between Thiel and the founders are often about corporate culture,” said the spokeswoman. Thiel should not hold back with his opinion. In the US he is known as a distinguished critic of the liberal Californian mainstream. Most recently, the Founders Fund has turned more and more away from Silicon Valley. Thiel moved to Los Angeles a few years ago.
FF partner Keith Rabois, with whom Thiel has been connected since their time together at PayPal, opened an office in Miami. Like Thiel, Rabois is a harsh critic of the left-wing urban politics of San Francisco and the supposedly monotonous thinking of the Silicon Valley.
In the conflict over the US election, Thiel does not position himself publicly, although he supported Trump in the 2016 election campaign not only with money, but also with an appearance at the nomination party conference. The registered Republican did not appear in the 2020 election campaign. Apparently he’s focused on business.
More: Investor Christian Angermayer im Podcast Handelsblatt Disrupt