Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Sebastian Kurz changed from politics to technology by taking a position at Peter Thiel’s California investment company after the former Austrian leader resigned in October after allegations of corruption at the heart of his government.

The 35-year-old former chancellor will become a “global strategist” for the right-wing billionaire’s business, Thiel Capital, said one person familiar with the matter. The investment tool has supported a number of diverse start-ups, including psychedelic developer Atai.

Kurz, once the EU’s youngest elected leader, closed the door on a previously glamorous political career this month by resigning as head of the center-right Austrian People’s Party and claiming to have been the victim of a “witch hunt”.

Although no formal complaint was lodged, police raided ministries across Vienna as part of investigations into whether Kurz and his allies used state funds and made false invoices to buy favorable media coverage while serving as foreign minister between 2013 and 2017. wash.

Kurz, the former torchbearer of Europe’s center-right, denies any wrongdoing.

Thiel, who is of German descent, is a major donor of American Republican candidates’ campaigns. He first gained notoriety as head of the payment platform PayPal, and continued to invest in Facebook, but moved to the wild fringes of the technology world through his interest in radical ideas such as the creation of sovereignty on the high seas.

In 2016, when Thiel came out in public in support of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, mistrust of the left-leaning technology enterprise turned to hostility, hastening his departure from Silicon Valley. He has since moved his operations to Los Angeles and Washington, while Palantir, the big data and AI company he founded, has moved to Colorado.

Palantir’s work to help governments analyze large amounts of data, for example to identify potential terrorists and track down immigrants, has long made it a target of civil liberties activists.

But that has not stopped its influence from spreading internationally over the past few years, including in Europe. The pandemic has accelerated its scope, with health agencies using its tools to help track the spread of Covid-19 infections and identify dwindling resources such as available hospital beds.

Thiel and Kurz seem to have known each other for years. The two are depicted together in a photo posted on Kurz’s Twitter account during the Munich Security Conference in 2017. The former chancellor said the two discussed “how #digitalization change our world ”.

Additional post by Sam Jones and Richard Waters

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