Peter Thiel’s 10 Most Profitable Startup Exits

Power in Numbers (PIN)
3 min readMay 22, 2023

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, is an icon in the VC and startup world. Learn about his top startup exits — in the most famous tech companies.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal & Palantir

Peter Thiel is considered to be one of the most iconic startup entrepreneurs and investors of the last two decades. He co-founded PayPal, Palantir Technologies, and venture capital firm Founders Fund. He’s also the author of every startup founder’s must-read — Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future.

Although he built his initial wealth by co-founding extremely successful companies, he made even more money by investing in startups both as an angel and as a VC very early on. Without a doubt, he has an uncanny ability to spot untapped potential at the right time.

Check out Thiel’s top early investments in some of the most world-renowned tech companies.

Peter Thiel’s Most Successful Startup Investments

1. Facebook

Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook. His decision to invest $500,000 in the emerging social networking platform in 2004 proved to be a stroke of genius.

Recognizing Mark Zuckerberg’s visionary potential, Thiel gradually increased his stake in the company and eventually sold most of it for an astounding $11.3 million in 2020.

2. PayPal

Thiel was a founding member of the company that represents one of his most successful investments to date. PayPal was sold to ecommerce platform eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, just four years after it was founded.

3. Palantir

He was a founding member of the tech firm & helped take it public in 2020 with a $20B valuation. Now, the firm is worth over $45B with Founders Fund holding a 17.7% stake & Thiel owning 8% worth $2B, per Forbes.

4. Spotify

Thiel invested early on in Spotify via his ventue capital firm Founders Fund. Spotify currently boasts a $46 billion market cap & $9.6 billion in revenue in 2022. It went public in 2018 with a $30B valuation on the first day of trading.

5. Airbnb

Thiel was an early backer of Airbnb. He was reportedly in talks to invest $150 million in 2012 at a $2.5 billion valuation. He helped take Airbnb public in 2020 at a valuation of $47 billion. Airbnb finished the first day of trading at $100 billion, setting an IPO record.

6. Zynga

Thiel was an angel investor in the company in 2011 before a successful $7 billion IPO on the first day of trading.

7. Yelp

He was an early funder of Yelp, providing seed money. Yelp went public in 2012 with a $1.5 billion valuation on the first day of trading.

8. Lyft

Again via Founders Fund, Thiel was an early backer of ride-sharing platform Lyft. It now has a $19 billion market cap & posted $2.3 billion in revenue in 2022 despite the COVID crisis.

9. Asana

Asana went public in 2020 via a direct listing, valued at $4 billion on the first day of trading. The market cap of the firm has grown to over $7 billion. Thiel led a Series B funding round for Asana in 2012 via Founders Fund and served on its board before exiting in 2018.

10. Twilio

He was an early investor in cloud biz Twilio, later selling a majority stake in 2018.

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Power in Numbers (PIN)

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