Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, who helped to drive Gawker under said in his New York Times piece that he is glad to have played a role in the company’s downturn and that he would do it again, if necessary.
Thiel, who helped to create PayPal and is also one of the first investors in Facebook, was eventually revealed as former wrestler Hulk Hogan’s financial backer after Hogan won a $140-million lawsuit against Gawker in a Florida court as recent as March.
Unable to pay such a massive sum (which amounts to nearly three times the company’s annual revenue), Gawker had to seek bankruptcy protection. As at this date the company has begun an auction to sell off its assets, with bids coming in from multiple corporations.
In his piece for the New York Times, Thiel said he was happy to have provided financial support for Hogan’s case (involving a video clip the company derived from the former wrestler’s sex tape that he made with the wife of a friend). Thiel said he will continue to support Hogan (as Gawker has said it will appeal) and anyone else in the same situation.
During an interview with New Times back in May, Thiel said he funded Hogan’s lawsuit and several others against Gawker as part of a campaign to bankrupt the company. He said Gawker had pioneered unique and incredibly damaging ways to get attention through bullying people, even with no connection to public interest.
Since Thiel’s identity as Hogan’s backer came to light, his crusade against Gawker has faced criticism by many prominent journalists and free press defenders who note that his actions raise serious questions regarding free speech.
He said journalists should exercise judgment when the issue involves invading an individual’s privacy.
The billionaire has also participated in financing other lawsuits against Gawker most of which have not gone to trial, while some have less legal merit when compared to the Gawker case.