Peter Thiel, the billionaire entrepreneur and Silicon Valley investor, revealed in an interview with The New York Times that he funded Hulk Hogan’s case against Gawker Media. Best known for his role at PayPal, Thiel talked about Gawker as an evil company that makes money by destroying other people’s lives for no reason. He added that Hogan’s was not the only case against the media firm he was financing, although he declined to reveal the others.
Gawker Media is facing a lawsuit for invasion of privacy after it released a sex tape featuring the wrestler Hulk Hogan without consent, which led him to sue the company in 2013. Terry Gene Bollea – Hogan’s real name – was recently awarded $140 million by a Florida jury, which didn’t know that Thiel was secretly paying $10 billion for the lawsuit.
In 2007, Gawker’s Valleywag blog published a story that outed Thiel as being gay. The successful entrepreneur and philanthropist told The Times that some of his friends had also been attacked by the same gossip website. However, he said he funded a team of lawyers to help targets of the firm’s hideous articles based on the need to use his resources for a good cause rather than revenge.
“I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest,” Thiel expressed, adding that it was what made him realize it was worth fighting back.
When he wasn’t sure whether it was a good idea, one of his friends convinced him that he was the only one who could actually do something, said Thiel, who’s also part of Facebook’s board of directors.
Thiel noted that he started his secret war with Gawker motivated by the suffering of vulnerable people who didn’t have any chance to defend themselves. Unlike him, even a millionaire and a famous person like Terry Bollea didn’t have the resources to fight by his own against such a powerful media company.
— CNNMoney (@CNNMoney) May 26, 2016
Gawker Media’s founder Nick Denton said in a statement that Peter Thiel’s status as a prominent Silicon Valley billionaire didn’t make his opinion more important than that of millions of readers who welcome the company’s big news stories, including Facebook’s “secret” power to determine the news users see.
Thiel is an advocate of freedom of speech
An investor in three venture firms (Founders Fund, Mithril and Valar), Thiel has provided financial support to the Committee to Protect Journalists and described himself as an advocate of freedom of speech. The thing is that he doesn’t believe that journalism is about “massive privacy violations,” suggesting that Gawker Media is far from being comprised of respected journalists. He remarked that real journalists won’t compromise their values by fighting back against that company.
Moreover, he clarified that he hasn’t targeted other media firms because he thinks Gawker is unique, which is why he has engaged in fighting it back. He described his financial backing of the cases against the company as one of the “greater philanthropic things” he has ever done.
Thiel concluded that it’s not his job to decide the future of Gawker.
“If America rallies around Gawker and decides we want more people to be outed and more sex tapes to be posted without consent, then they will find a way to save Gawker, and I can’t stop it,” he told The Times.
Source: New York Times