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May 26, 2016

Peter Thiel Secretly Funded Hulk Hogan Lawsuit As Vengeance for Gawker Outing Him as Gay

Vengeance is expensive, but worth every damn penny.

A billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur was outed as being gay by a media organization. His friends suffered at the hands of the same gossip site. Nearly a decade later, the entrepreneur secretly financed a lawsuit to try to put the media company out of business.

That is the back story to a legal case that had already grabbed headlines: The wrestler Hulk Hogan sued Gawker Media for invasion of privacy after it published a sex tape, and a Florida jury recently awarded the wrestler, whose real name is Terry Gene Bollea, $140 million.

What the jury -- and the public - -did not know was that Mr. Bollea had a secret benefactor paying about $10 million for the lawsuit: Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of the earliest investors in Facebook.

A 2007 article published by Gawker’s Valleywag blog was headlined, "Peter Thiel is totally gay, people." That and a series of articles about his friends and others that he said "ruined people’s lives for no reason" drove Mr. Thiel to mount a clandestine war against Gawker. He funded a team of lawyers to find and help "victims" of the company's coverage mount cases against Gawker.

"It's less about revenge and more about specific deterrence," he said on Wednesday in his first interview since his identity was revealed. "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."


...

"It's not like it is some sort of speaking truth to power or something going on here. The way I’ve thought about this is that Gawker has been a singularly terrible bully. In a way, if I didn’t think Gawker was unique, I wouldn’t have done any of this. If the entire media was more or less like this, this would be like trying to boil the ocean." Mr. Thiel said he had not targeted any other media companies.

Apparently there were rumors about this previously, which were dismissed as just conspiracy theories. But the rumors began when Hulk Hogan's legal team specifically did not mount an allegation for which Gawker's insurance company would be compelled to cover their losses -- that is, the lawsuit was designed not to suck money out of an insurance company, but specifically to deliver a lethal blow to Gawker.

Well, had I known that, I would have bought into the conspiracy theory too. That is a very strange decision.


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posted by Ace at 11:46 AM

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