What's the Thiel Foundation Up To in the Bay Area?

We've written about the investor and philanthropist Peter Thiel before. A mainstay of Thiel's philanthropy is its 20 Under 20 Fellowship, which provides up to $100,000 for ambitious young people to pursue a project outside of a university setting. But that's not all Thiel is into. Through his Thiel Foundation, the billionaire has given away between $6 to $8 million annually, and the Bay Area is a prime area for funding. Here's what the Thiel Foundation has been funding in the Bay Area:

1. Science and Technology Innovation is Huge for this Funder

On its website, the Thiel Foundation states that it "supports innovative scientific research and new technologies that empower people to improve their lives." The foundation currently runs different innovative projects. Besides the Thiel Fellowships, several of which have gone to bay area youth in recent years, Thiel also launched Breakout Labs, an initiative designed to reshape the way early-stage science is funded by bridging the gap between initial funding from venture capital firms and small labs and government or other major funding.

Recently, Cytovale Inc.,"an early stage life sciences company" in the San Francisco area received $350,000. Stealth Biosciences, a Palo Alto company that builds nanoscale devices to measure and control biology, recently received around $134,000. 

Other technology companies in the bay area that have seen Thiel's money in recent years include the Sense Research Foundation ($450,000 in 2013) and the Seasteading Institute (around $314,000 in 2013). The Seasteading Institute is an interesting outfit that tries to bring the principle of homesteading and property rights to the unsettled oceans of the world.

2. Assorted Sums Have Gone to Education and Gay Rights Causes

Thiel has been a supporter of the UCSF Foundation, which received $175,000 in 2013. Further south in Southern California, Thiel is a supporter of Claremont McKenna College and the Ayn Rand Institute. It's worth noting that while Thiel appears to be right-of-center politically, he's also an openly gay man. He's an outspoken supporter of GOProud, and was a fundraiser for the campaign that successfully argued the case which overturned California's Prop 8 in the Supreme Court.

It doesn't appear that any local Bay Area gay rights nonprofits have received support lately, but Thiel hasn't really been a huge supporter of other community organizations, either.

3. This is Likely Only the Beginning

Thiel is only in his late 40s, and is worth over $2 billion, which means that there's likely bigger things down the line for this philanthropist. For now at least, Thiel appears focused on innovative projects, particularly supporting science and technology.

Related: Thiel Foundation Bay Area Grants