Peter Thiel has been at Donald Trump’s side since the Republican National Convention, guiding the then-candidate on technology policy and brokering a meeting between him and top tech executives. Now Thiel has secured a place for one of his top aides in Trump’s White House — Michael Kratsios, formerly chief of staff at Thiel Capital, will step into the role of deputy chief technology officer.
The appointment, first reported by Politico Pro and confirmed by TechCrunch, seems like a natural progression of Kratsios’ work alongside Thiel on the transition team.
Prior to his work at Thiel Capital, Kratsios was the chief financial officer of Clarium Capital Management, another fund company founded by Thiel. Kratsios did not respond to a request for comment from TechCrunch, but describes himself on his personal website as passionate about technology and politics. At Princeton, Kratsios conducted thesis research into the links between Greece’s economic performance and its citizens’ voting patterns. His thesis discusses the relationship between economic conditions and “incumbent vote share,” a model fashioned after voting patterns in the United States. Kratsios also took an interest in partisan bias and studied how it changed voters’ perceptions of the economy.
The deputy CTO role was last held by Alexander Macgillivray, a former general counsel at Twitter. The role of White House chief technology officer, previously held by former Googler Megan Smith, has yet to be filled. The CTO works with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on a broad mandate of issues involving data, innovation and technology policy.
It’s interesting to see the deputy CTO role filled by someone with experience in venture capital — the Obama administration tended to select technologists from public companies with large user bases, perhaps with the idea that experience serving diverse users would translate well to serving the American people. Fewer people have access to venture capital than have access to Google, so there’s a naturally smaller set of experiences to draw on.
Macgillivray discussed the work that would be left over for the Trump administration in an interview with TechCrunch last September, including enhancing cybersecurity, improving access to data and addressing inequality in tech. “All of it is stuff we’re rushing to get done. Everything from cybersecurity to making sure we’re tackling inequality, that we’re working on some of the interesting long-term things, like artificial intelligence,” Macgillivray said.