Peter Thiel fought viciously with Elon Musk in the early part of this decade; after they merged their companies to form with PayPal, they wrestled for control, with Thiel emerging victorious as the CEO who led the company through an IPO and a $1.5 billion sale to eBay. At the time, Musk was the richer, having sold a forgotten company to another forgotten company for an unforgettable $220 million. The two have long since made up — and a lucky thing for Musk, who now finds himself a supplicant to Thiel. Thiel's venture capital firm, the Founders Fund, has agreed to invest $20 million in Musk's faltering SpaceX, a rocket-ship startup whose latest vehicle crashed into the Pacific Ocean rather than soaring into the beyond.Ignominiously, the botched launch ended up splashing the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who play Scotty in Star Trek's ashes all over the Pacific. Perhaps more materially, three satellites — two from NASA and another form the department of defense — also saw their trips cut drastically short. Thiel's $20 million follows $100 million of Musk's own money already sunk into the project. As friendly as the two are now, Thiel's investment has to be humiliating — a reminder that Musk may have the occasional clever idea, but it takes a Thiel to make it pay off.
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