Investment banker-turned-entrepreneur A.J. Steigman is hereby challenging venture capital legend Peter Thiel to an epic chess match.
If he loses, Steigman will give up a share of streetwear social network and e-commerce platform Soletron.
Exactly how much equity Steigman would be willing to give up would be determined by the two parties — if Thiel accepts the challenge.
If he wins, Steigman wants the PayPal founder to pay him $1 million to go towards his company’s series A fundraising round.
“I’m doing this for all the entrepreneurs or business owners who have great ideas, but don’t have the capital to see it go through,” Steigman says. “I want to show that there are unconventional ways to raise money.”
The entrepreneur contacted us following our recent feature on chess players in the business world.
“I have nothing but absolute respect for Peter,” Steigman says. “He’s such an idol in business, chess and corporate philosophy. We’re just so evenly matched that it’d be a very tight match.”
Here’s the breakdown:
Thiel rates 2199 internationally and 2287 in the U.S., while Steigman rates 2274 internationally and 2283 in the U.S.
Both players are in the top 1 percent of all chess players in the U.S., and have the same title of Life Master, which means they have to hold a “master’s rating of over 2200 for at least 300 USCF-rated tournament chess games.”
“Just like Apollo Creed wagered Rocky, I hope the Champ allows me this opportunity,” Steigman says.
If Steigman could speak directly to Thiel, he tells us he would say: “Peter, you’re the champ of American business, and chess has made us who we are. It’s in our DNA. I wish to partner with you on this match.”
“If you accept, just make sure you bring your PayPal account,” he says, grinning. “It’s your move.”
Steigman played in his first tournament at the age of five, became a national master at 13, but hasn’t played in a registered game for six years.
If the game becomes a reality, Steigman says that all sponsorship proceeds would go to charity.
Soletron is in the process of fundraising. Its board includes Bruce Chizen, former CEO of Adobe; Santonio Holmes, football player for the New York Jets and Superbowl MVP; Tom Austin, co-founder of AND1 basketball; John Friedman, managing partner of Easton Captial; and Bob Rice, founder of Tangent Capital and NY Angel member.
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