Thiel was born in Frankfurt. He moved with his family to the United States as an infant, and spent a portion of his upbringing in Southern Africa before the family settled in California in 1977. He studied philosophy at Stanford University, graduating with a B. A. in 1989. He then went on to the Stanford Law School, and received his J. D. in 1992. After graduation, he worked as a judicial clerk for Judge James Larry Edmondson, a securities lawyer for Sullivan & Cromwell, a speechwriter for former-U. S. Secretary of Education William Bennett and as a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse prior to founding Thiel Capital in 1996. He co-founded PayPal in 1999, serving as chief executive officer until its sale to eBay in 2002 for $1. 5 billion.