Talent Spotting Down Under
“There’s a lot of incredibly talented people in New Zealand,” legendary American venture capitalist Peter Thiel told the New Zealand Herald recently. “You look around and you see the small businesses and it’s very entrepreneurial,” Thiel said. “It’s not dominated by [long traditions] that say ‘this is the way you have to do things’. New Zealand has some very interesting opportunities and it’s also a place that’s pleasant to spend some time in.” The man famous for giving Facebook its first $US500,000 of seed funding retains a 3 per cent stake in the social media behemoth, which is currently valued at $US70 billion. Now, Thiel has turned his attention to New Zealand’s tech sector through his vehicle Valar Ventures. In October 2010, he spent $NZ4 million to acquire a stake in Wellington-based accounting software provider Xero. Thiel’s investment in New Zealand firms is big news for one very good reason – his record as a tech talent spotter is impressive.