Does Peter Thiel want to live forever?
At the Venture Alpha West 2014 conference, attended by technology executives, venture capitalists, and institutional investors at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif., moderator Lawrence Aragon ended a session with Thiel by throwing a question at the 46 year-old investor many in the audience were undoubtedly curious about.
“You’re a billionaire. What is the biggest achievement that you haven’t achieved yet?” Aragon asked.
For Thiel, the answer was anti-aging technology, an area he said investors had grossly overlooked.
“Certainly, the area that I’m very passionate about is trying to do something to really get some progress on the anti-aging and longevity front. I think it is a strangely under-explored area. There are a 100,000 people who die every day on this planet, mostly from things related to aging,” Thiel said.
The outspoken Thiel, who remains busy running the Founders Fund, Clarium Capital, Mithril Capital Management and Valar Ventures, is better known for his investments in Facebook, Airbnb and Palntir, for example, than anti-aging firms. His $500,000 investment in Facebook in 2004, for example, turned into $500 million when the company went public in 2012.
Clearly, though, anti-aging is foremost on his mind.
“It’s a massively under-studied, under-invested phenomena. The way we psychologically deal with aging is through some combination of acceptance and denial. Acceptance is ‘[It’s] going to happen, there’s nothing we can do about it. Denial is, ‘It’s not going to happen to me,'” he said.
For Thiel, just having a conversation on the topic of anti-aging is a big deal for many people. Thiel did not say what companies he was investing in or looking at.
“When you combine extreme optimism and extreme pessimism, they always get you to the same point, which is there’s no point in doing anything, or there’s no need to do anything,” he said.
“So instead of acceptance or denial, I’d like to see fighting about it a little more.”