Peter Thiel has done it again.
Inviting outrage and the scorn of the entire education community, the Pay-Pal co-founder, Venture Capitalist and Silicon Valley provocateur announced at a press conference earlier today that he is paying a young Indian-American boy $250,000 to forgo kindergarten and start his own company.
Thiel’s rants on “the education bubble” have made national news and earned him an appearance on 60 Minutes. But this move is controversial, even by Thiel’s standards.
The boy is Sanjay Ramachandran, a 4-year old from San Francisco’s Richmond District. Thiel bumped into the child and his parents at a Starbucks and observed the child’s precocious behavior.
“Young Sanjay was coding on a LeapFrog LeapPad for which he had built his own browser and wifi ***. I thought to myself ‘I must own him.’ Wait, that came out wrong.”
Thiel made news a couple of years ago when he announced his “20 Under 20″program which paid 20 young college undergraduates $100,000 each to leave school and start their own business. He denies that today’s move is the beginning of anything that might be labeled “5 Under 5.”
“This was just one very bright child whose potential will never be recognized by a bureaucracy-laden educational system that favors conformance over individual human potential.”
Thiel defended the net benefit of personalized capitalistic mentoring over traditional schooling’s non-monetary benefits like social skills, coping with setbacks and positive interactions with peers.
“You want socialization? By the time he’s 7, Sanjay will know all of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists and Mark Zuckerberg’s dog.” Thiel stated. “Just last week we went for a sail on Tom Perkins’ yacht. How many first-graders have done that? Not very many, I’ll tell you.”
“There is a socialization bubble.” he continued. “We focus solely on teaching kids to share and be mindful of each other’s feelings. These skills have very little market in the value today, and that value is rapidly declining. Sanjay’s parents are not screwing around here.”
He added, “Before Sanjay is 10, he’ll be worth $50 million and know the difference between a claret and a meritage. This kid is going to be ready!”
Ready for what?
“The global economic revolution that is already taking place. Do you think what’s happening in Greece and Spain would be happening if elementary schools there took entrepreneurialism seriously? I’m sorry, but tourism and global gyro-exporting are not scalable industries.”
The backlash from education experts has been profuse, but Thiel is also feeling the brunt of diversity advocates who say he isn’t doing enough for Hispanic or African-American kindergartners.
“Did he have to be Asian?” Thiel asked rhetorically, then defended his choice based on his proprietary model for lifetime income of Americans by nationality of origin.
“Let’s just say the Indian kid on his laptop was a better bet than the white kid next to him in the Sponge Bob jammies.”
Correction: This article originally ran under the headline “Peter Thiel Pays $250k for Young Asian Boy.” We regret any confusion this may have caused.