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Tech billionaire outed by Gawker is funding $140m lawsuit against them as ‘revenge’

Nick Duffy May 27, 2016

A tech billionaire who was ‘outed’ by Gawker Media appears to be getting revenge by funding a massive legal case against the company.

PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel has long taken issue with the gossipy news site, over its coverage of his sexuality back in 2007.

At the time, after the Republican businessman had come out to his friends and family, news site Gawker ran a story suggesting ‘Peter Thiel, the smartest VC in the world, is gay’.

Thiel appears to be getting revenge, however – after it emerged he is secretly funding wrestler Hulk Hogan’s $140.1 million lawsuit against the company.

Hogan has pursued Gawker for publishing a video of him having sex with a friend’s wife in 2012 and allegedly making racist comments – and is suing for a huge amount of damages.

Thiel confirmed to the New York Times that he had spent $10 million to support Hogan’s lawsuit, telling the New York Times: “I thought it was worth fighting back. [It’s] very painful and paralysing for people who were targeted.”

An open letter from Gawker’s Nick Denton attacks Thiel for his actions.

It says: “It is now clear that gay people are everywhere, not just in industries such as entertainment, but at the pinnacles of Silicon Valley power.

“I thought we had all moved on, not realizing that, for someone who aspires to immortality, nine years may not be such a long time as it seems to most of us.

“Your revenge has been served well, cold and (until now) anonymously.

“You admit you have been planning the punishment of Gawker and its writers for years, and that you have so far spent $10 million to fund litigation against the company.

“Charles Harder, the Hollywood plaintiff’s lawyer who has marshalled your legal campaign, is representing not just the wrestler Hulk Hogan on your behalf, but two other subjects of stories in suits against Gawker and its editorial staff.

“You told the New York Times that you are motivated by friends who had their lives ruined by Gawker coverage, and that your funding is a ‘philanthropic’ project to help other ‘victims’ of negative stories.”

Noting the lawsuit targets individual journalists, the letter continues: “Peter, this is twisted. Even were you to succeed in bankrupting Gawker Media, the writers you dislike, and me, just think what it will mean.

“The world is already uncomfortable with the unaccountable power of the billionaire class, the accumulation of wealth in Silicon Valley, and technology’s influence over the media.

“You show yourself as a thin-skinned billionaire who, despite all the success and public recognition that a person could dream of, seethes over criticism and plots behind the scenes to tie up his opponents in litigation he can afford better than they.”

Gawker was last year forced to apologise over a separate ‘outing’ incident.

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