Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×
Businesses Education

Inside Peter Thiel's Genius Factory (backchannel.com) 165

In 2011 the Thiel Fellowship "was created to prove that a college degree doesn't matter," writes Backchannel, saying it's now evolved into something much more Silicon Valley. mirandakatz quotes their article: What began as an attempt to draw teen prodigies to the Valley before they racked up debt at Princeton or Harvard and went into consulting to pay it off has transformed into the most prestigious network for young entrepreneurs in existence -- a pedigree that virtually guarantees your ideas will be judged good, investors will take your call, and there will always be another job ahead even better than the one you have.
This year's class are all established entrepreneurs -- some of whom have already graduated from college, according to the article, although having at least "stopped out" at some point remains a requirement for the program. "It's offensive, the way people ask about it," one fellow tells the reporter, who summarized his belief that "To go back [to Stanford] would imply personal failure. Why would he ever do that? He had his network started already, and clearly the opportunities came through the network... This network, he contended, was far more valuable than any he could build in college -- even at Stanford."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Inside Peter Thiel's Genius Factory

Comments Filter:
  • Genius my ass... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rs1n ( 1867908 ) on Sunday December 11, 2016 @03:43AM (#53462213)
    It's nothing more than a common watering hole for all the already-successful young entrepreneurs to all gather. Let's see, basically get a bunch of already successful young people and throw more money at them and give them even more opportunities to succeed... and they do it!? *rolls eyes*
    • Yes, particularly since running a "successful" business only requires a certain minimum level of "cleverness" and relies much more on business connections.

      Just look at Research in Motion (aka Blackberry). That company is largely run by idiots which chase the iPhone and contradict their main claim (security) by cooperating with everybody on breaking their devices up to a point where they send your e-mail login data to a central server.

    • Even so, creating such a watering hole has value if it helps expand the networks of those entrepreneurs and connect them to investors. It's the one piece of advice I give young introverts (and would have given a younger me): network, because you'll find it useful in pretty much any white collar job, and if it doesn't come naturally, then you can learn with some effort.

      But then: "a pedigree that virtually guarantees your ideas will be judged good, investors will take your call, and there will always be an
      • It has value to those who are in it. Just like any cabal.

        But if anyone is trying to pass this off as Capitalism 4.0 or a universal panacea they're selling snake oil.

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      I was going to throw in the description "an intellectually inbred" organization where no real innovation will come from. Innovation usually comes from imaginative outsiders in the arts and sciences. This is just a mutual admiration club that will reinforce the current establishment.

      Remember, innovation and entrepreneurship is not the same thing. Starting a business and getting funding is not the same as developing new technologies.

    • So more of a warehouse than a factory?

  • "It's offensive, the way people ask about it," one fellow tells the reporter

    Sounds perfect for entitled millenials. I wonder when the house of cards will come crashing down in their lives.

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Sunday December 11, 2016 @05:16AM (#53462351) Homepage Journal

    What this really represents is yet another way to attack education, especially public education. If you've actually been a teacher, then you should know that the most important thing about the best students is to avoid holding them back. Thiel is just exploiting this reality to make public education look bad: "See you don't need an education so the government should stop taxing rich people like me to educate you bums."

    The people Thiel is picking for this program would have been extremely successful even if they had gotten more of that traditional education. However, if you take the very best and brightest with the highest motivation, and then you make sure they have the resources to learn whatever they need for their work, they are almost certain to succeed. In this case, I'm sure the house (Thiel) is even rigging the game, pumping in extra money and guidance to make sure there aren't any failures because the REAL point is to make education look like the failure.

    This is just an extension of the dismembering of public education that has been going on for many decades. The best students are streamed into elite schools and most of the students are given obedience training to make them docile wage slaves, easily handled prison inmates, and obedient consumers who will buy the right soap and vote for the right political candidates, just the way the ads tell them to behave.

    Worked pretty much exactly as they wanted it to and now it's time to harvest the whirlwind. Most American workers can't compete, and it's only going to get worse going forward. Much worse.

    But the richest 0.1% will do better than ever. Government of the corporations, by the lawyers, for the richest 0.1% shall rule the earth?

    • What this really represents is yet another way to attack education, especially public education...

      With regards to "public" education, I believe the mainpoint this concept is trying to prove is that one does not have to go into mind-numbing crushing debt, brought to you by higher education, in order to succeed. If anything, this proves the value of the public education one receives essentially for free, is good enough.

      But the richest 0.1% will do better than ever. Government of the corporations, by the lawyers, for the richest 0.1% shall rule the earth?

      And that shit will continue right up until the slave labor class has had enough of it, and eats the rich. Nothing else will stop it.

      • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Sunday December 11, 2016 @07:11AM (#53462477)

        Unless you'd like to succeed in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics, economics, computer science (not programming), electrical or chemical or mechanical or civil engineering, law, medicine, architecture, etc.

        In short, if you are good at cherry picking and gluing stuff together around the edges of hard work that others have taken the time and money for the deep training that requires math and theory, then you might succeed in making money. Standing on the shoulders of giants requires the giants actually be there.

        • Unless you'd like to succeed in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics, economics, computer science (not programming), electrical or chemical or mechanical or civil engineering, law, medicine, architecture, etc.

          Gosh, I wonder how humanity ever survived learning and training these concepts for hundreds of years without spending $100,000+ on it. Sadly, liability drives the need for a degree today more than anything else. Otherwise, the wise and experienced elders working within the field of expertise could likely provide an education that exceeds that of a classroom, especially when 40% of your curriculum will not be used or relied upon after graduation, clarifying the money grab that it is. And Peter's point sta

          • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday December 11, 2016 @10:33AM (#53463101)

            Unless you'd like to succeed in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics, economics, computer science (not programming), electrical or chemical or mechanical or civil engineering, law, medicine, architecture, etc.

            Gosh, I wonder how humanity ever survived learning and training these concepts for hundreds of years without spending $100,000+ on it.

            For most of human history, becoming a scientist required that either you be wealthy, or that you find a wealthy patron. For most of human history, there were not very many scientists, and scientific progress was very slow. If we go back to the first condition, we can expect to obtain the second condition as well.

            • For most of human history, studying science or medicine required the person to first waste years and fill his mind with useless trivia about a 'holy book' written by goat herders. Also about the convoluted interpretations of same that allow followers to believe/behave anyway they want anyhow.

              At least engineering education came out ot military schools. Much more practical.

              Let's not forget that all the 'educated' had to transact their business in a long dead language.

            • by shanen ( 462549 )

              If I ever got a mod point, I'd give one to you. Probably "insightful" in that case. Pretty sure you are wasting the rationality on a Libertarian holier-and-smarter-than-thou fanatic.

              I would have worded your point slightly differently, in that for most of human history the vast majority of people were engaged in subsistence agriculture (or subsistence hunting and gathering before that). Scientific progress depended on the accumulation of the tiny surpluses of large numbers of workers, many of whom actually w

          • Gosh, I wonder how humanity ever survived learning and training these concepts for hundreds of years without spending $100,000+ on it.

            Not the point. The point is that nowadays when yo go for a job you're competing against people who do have that bit of paper. It's the educational arms race.

    • The best students are streamed into elite schools and most of the students are given obedience training to make them docile wage slaves, easily handled prison inmates, and obedient consumers who will buy the right soap and vote for the right political candidates, just the way the ads tell them to behave.

      If that is the purpose of public education, then it needs to die a quick death.
      If you are a teacher and that is what you try to do, then you should be fired immediately.

      You speak as though kids were dogs. Education is not 'behavior training.'

      • by shanen ( 462549 )

        I'm responding on the theory that you are a victim of the kind of bad education that I described. Specifically, you don't seem to read well.

        Rather than actually respond to your misunderstandings, which would be basically to repeat what I already wrote, I'm just going to ask you to reread my comment. If you are still unable to understand it, then you should ask questions about the parts you cannot understand. If you still think you disagree (and that is the apparent tone of your reply, even if there was no s

    • Sounds to me that you don't know what you want. You say it's an attack on public education, then go on to indict it - correctly I might add. You also don't like what he's doing - skimming the cream off the top.

      Let's start at the beginning, schools in America were started by religious orders, such as the Catholics to teach people how to read the bible. They moved on of course to teach a lot more. Then the government got involved and made public schools. They were very successful and they had a LOT of religio

  • by gweihir ( 88907 )

    Sure, to make a large amount of money, you do not need a real education. Just have a talent to rip-off people.

    In order to qualify as "genius" in modern times and be able to actually contribute to society, as opposed destroying wealth (as so many of those that amassed personal riches routinely do), a PhD in your chosen field is about the minimum. Without that, you will never get deep enough into a subject to really understand it and to really understand the difference it makes to really understand it.

    Methink

    • In order to qualify as "genius" in modern times and be able to actually contribute to society, as opposed destroying wealth (as so many of those that amassed personal riches routinely do), a PhD in your chosen field is about the minimum.

      The whole 'PhD' thing is locked down in thick layers of conformity. You need to 'play well with others' in order to work your way through post-graduate studies. And that whole mess is locked up by climbers who've made academia an insular elite network.

      Sure, to make a large

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        In order to qualify as "genius" in modern times and be able to actually contribute to society, as opposed destroying wealth (as so many of those that amassed personal riches routinely do), a PhD in your chosen field is about the minimum.

        The whole 'PhD' thing is locked down in thick layers of conformity. You need to 'play well with others' in order to work your way through post-graduate studies. And that whole mess is locked up by climbers who've made academia an insular elite network.

        Sure, there are issues. But in actual reality, there is no alternative to it if you really need to get deep into a topic.

        Sure, to make a large amount of money

        Are you resentful because you chose the academic track and instead of leaving the campus to live a life after graduating, you stayed within the insular ranks? Too bad.

        Complete, fail at Ad Hominem. Pathetic. While I am still doing applied research as part of my job and some teaching on the side, I am in a pretty well-paid industrial position. Your argument is as clueless as it is worthless.

        • You don't need a PHD to get 'deep into a topic.' You just need motivation, time, and resources. Explain to me how that is not an alternative?

          Just having a PHD doesn't make you smarter than everyone else in the room - just like having any other certification for that matter. I've met geniuses that didn't have any education beyond their primary education, and I've met stupid people holding advanced degrees wasting oxygen and space.

          I'm also not anti-intellectual. Expanding your intellect does not requi

          • by gweihir ( 88907 )

            Sorry, but I did not say doing a PhD does give you deep insight into a topic, I said that realistically it is the only way to get that deep insight if you otherwise have what it takes. Many people with a PhD do not and basically wasted their time. I hope you can see that there is an implication here and it has a direction.

            The thing is that for almost all people, acquiring the "motivation, time, and resources" needed is not feasible any other way.

  • by cjonslashdot ( 904508 ) on Sunday December 11, 2016 @07:41AM (#53462521)
    So there are more entrepreneurs, creating more IOT gizmos and more Googles and more plastic that ends up in landfills, pushing us faster towards the Singularity. Is that being a successful person? A successful society? I didn't go to college and grad school to get a job or create a network: I went to become educated. I learned things that I could not have learned on my own because formal education provides rigor and a support structure that forces you to continue through it. Today, at 60, my biggest regret is that I did not finish my PhD and I am thinking about going back to school to study what I love - physics. Besides family, knowledge is all that has meaning to me at this point.
    • 100% correct. Universities are for education (and meeting hotties), not "building your network". Most of what these guys are doing is ultimately worthless. Do we really need another big data startup?
      • Yes, although regarding "hotties", things have changed since I was in school. When I was a physics student at Cornell in the '70s, there were two women in my year in the department. Two. Across all colleges on campus, the ratio of men to women was about 70/30. Today I think it is about 45/55. Young college men today have it made, in that respect.
    • Exactly! All it does it take naturally talented people who could be doing something important and significant and turn them to doing something as boring as making money. Who needs space exploration and cancer research when you can get rich off making an Uber for dogsitting or the Nth Pandora clone.
      • Yes, very true. The really hard things tend to require deep knowledge - not lots of shallow knowledge. I expect the most of the people who design rockets for Elon Musk at SpaceX have PhDs in aerospace engineering.
  • by OneSmartFellow ( 716217 ) on Sunday December 11, 2016 @08:03AM (#53462579)
    ...tells me everything I need to know about Thiel and the people selected for this group.

    Thiel set out to disrupt the existing educational institutions. He suggested he could do a better job at training a small cohort of gifted individuals, and that once free of the shackles of a conformist degree-making institution, these fellows would be capable of jumpstarting human progress.

    So, you know influencers - Big Fucking Deal - I want people who know how to do things, and get them done on schedule, on budget, and done right. I don't give a shit if you know how to get to know other people who also only know how to get to know other people.

    Furthermore, I consider it essential that when I make a reference to a major historical event, piece of art, literature, music, you understand why that reference applies to our current conversation. I also consider it essential that your education allows you to draw upon a variety of knowledge in order to make good decisions. And you simply will not get that education by working 18 hours a day on whizz-bang.bullshit-me-to-death.com, because all the buzzwords in the world don't contribute at all to the benefit of society.

    My company does not exist solely to make me rich, it exists to allow me to explore ideas which can be turned into real physical products which actually help people in some way, usually labor saving, sometimes life saving (or enhancing), but never parasitic. Because *anyone* can be a parasite, and pretend to "manage influencer relationships", whatever the hell that means.
  • So these geniuses are pushing the forefront of technology by writing digital marketing apps, food delivery apps, etc. So sick of this shit and the crap coming out of SV. Call me when you have developed a positronic brain, or some REAL development in computer science. The crash can't come fast enough.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday December 11, 2016 @11:54AM (#53463461)
    Harvard will pay you're way 100% if you're an actual genius. Hell, most schools will. You'll be rocking a 1600 SAT and can write your own ticket. The folks who need help are the average students. But they're not who Thiel is after. He wants folks who can power his High Frequency Trading and AI/Automation investments. The wave of the future is skimming off the top and/or getting rid of those pesky employees and their meddling wages & benefits. You need geniuses for that because it _hard_.
  • It's funny the next Slashdot story is on Pogue complaining about breaking the space bar page-at-a-time scrolling convention by littering the frame with advanced wanker-bling web design (seriously, who ordered all this poptastic page cruft in the first place?)

    So check out backchannel.com.

    backchannel.com is formatting pull quotes as img objects, and the text of the article title is also an img object, impervious to search, much less cut and paste.

    Never assume malice where stupidity is an adequate explanation

  • cult cult cult

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

Working...