Why Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Is a Fan of Peter Thiel

November 10, 2016, 6:21 PM UTC
Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google Inc., listen
Photo by Bloomberg—Getty Images

Eric Schmidt has something he wants to say to Peter Thiel following Donald Trump’s presidential win: Congrats.

The chairman of Google-parent Alphabet (GOOG), speaking at the New York Times‘ annual Dealbook conference, said that he didn’t think it was fair how much backlash venture capitalist Thiel, who supported Trump, received during the presidential election.

“I am a Peter Thiel fan,” said Schmidt. “I think he is a brilliant entrepreneur. And I like a lot of the things he says.”

Schmidt’s words are surprising not only because of the backlash that Thiel, one of the few Silicon Valley elite who backed Trump, got, but also because Schmidt was an outspoken support of Hillary Clinton himself.

But on Thursday, Schmidt, who is working on a book about legendary business coach Bill Campbell Fortune was the first to report on Wednesday, was squarely in the camp that America needs to come back together. “We want to have a culture where people should say what they think,” Schmidt said. “I admire what he did.”

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Here’s an overview of Schmidt’s most noteworthy comments during the Dealbook session:

On Trump winning the presidential election: “I completely congratulate the next president of the United States. Most people did not expect this outcome. And it is a pretty amazing story. My support was for the other side. I was surprised.”

On spending time with Julian Assange: “What it told me is that governments are capable of systematic evil. But that requires planning. And if you have a rule that any form of activity is leaked, then the government can’t go too far. The problem with this argument is he appoints himself the judge of that.”

On how Trump needs to work with Silicon Valley: The top five most valuable companies in America today are Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), and Microsoft (MSFT). If the all R team is very focused on big business, there are five businesses right there. What do each and everyone of those companies need: high value, highly educated, high quality levels of immigration.”

On artificial intelligence and jobs: “Manufacturing is lot safer than it was a few decades ago because machines are doing the dangerous stuff that humans shouldn’t be doing. Repetitive jobs, the jobs we don’t want to do, will be replaced. Our biggest existential threat is nuclear war. I strongly disagree with the line of thinking [that it is artificial intelligence].”

On what was learned about email in the election: “I strongly recommend that you don’t use your own private server. And I strongly recommend you use Gmail.”

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