This essay originally appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Sign up here.
Jack Dorsey told the world to “stay woke” this week (#StayWoke, naturally) but I’m finding that rather challenging after a busy week in Los Angeles. (#TGIF, naturally.)
Why L.A.? Besides the boundless sun and bottomless Moscow Mules, the City of Angels is also home to the Code conference. A number of tech luminaries were in attendance, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and a surprisingly clean-shaven Dorsey. (Jack, you rascal.)
You know who wasn’t there? Investor Peter Thiel.
Don’t get me wrong—he was invited. They had a fancy Steelcase chair for him, right up there onstage next to Gawker Media founder Nick Denton. But Thiel can be forgiven for not wanting to share the air with Denton—he is bankrolling a lawsuit against the publisher, after all. (#Awkward.)
Thiel claimed an awful lot of mindshare anyway. On day one he was clearly top of mind for the Amazon (AMZN) CEO and The Washington Post owner. “Is that really how you want to spend your time?” Bezos asked a Thiel who was not there. “I don’t think so.”
On Day Two Thiel’s name was certainly on the lips of Sandberg, on whose company’s board he sits. “Peter did what he did on his own. Not as a Facebook (FB) board member,” she said with slight agitation. “We didn’t know about it. You’ll have to ask him about it.” But Thiel wasn’t there.
And of course Thiel was front and center during a Day Three session with Denton—metaphorically speaking, anyway. “A Silicon Valley billionaire is a hundred times, a thousand times, more powerful than a congressman” yet not subject to anywhere near the scrutiny, the Manhattan media baron said, gesturing to the empty chair beside him. But Thiel was not there to respond.
In a 2009 interview, Thiel told peHub that Silicon Valley “is supposed to be about people who are willing to think out loud and be different.” I agree, and I bet many of the readers of this newsletter do, too.
So if you’re out there, Peter, a suggestion: Come join us at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen and do just that. I guarantee we’ll have a fancy Herman Miller chair there waiting for you, and I’ll personally mix you the Moscow Mule you missed. I can’t promise you the Southern California sunshine, but I am utterly convinced that we can shed some light on this whole thing.
Have a great weekend.