The Compassion of Billionaires

The other day, billionaire Peter Thiel visited the Berkley campus to give a presentation. Thiel did not go there to create a conflict. Indeed, while Thiel says controversial things from time to time, he is not directly engaged in conflict with anyone. So he no doubt, expected an adoring audience for his talk.

Things did not work out that way. The recent spate of police killings of black men with no accountability has stirred passions around the US, including Berkley. And there is an undertone to this that goes beyond race. Police are tougher on poor people than they are on rich people. And Thiel is obviously very , very rich, A group  of Berkley students decided to disrupt the event and they drove Thiel from the stage.

Right. Thiel was put in a difficult position. And he tried to stay calm. Perhaps he thought that showing how cool and collected he was would be the best thing for his image.  He was quoted

“This is really a classic Berkeley event today — this is so cool!”

I find this to be incompetent from a conflict management point of view. The disruption appears to be important to him for its entertainment value.

See why billionaires don’t make great politicians?


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