Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and one of Facebook’s earliest private investors, revealed late Wednesday that he had spent over $10 million on Hulk Hogan’s privacy lawsuit against the media site, Gawker, the National Post is reporting.
Thiel said his reason for committing so much money to the case was due to a long-term desire to destroy the news site.
Thiel, who is reportedly worth $2.7 billion, said “I can defend myself but most people they attack are not people in my category, they usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves … even someone like Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan), who is a millionaire and a famous and successful person, didn’t have the resources to do it alone.”
— CIR (@CIRonline) May 26, 2016
In 2012, Gawker posted an online video of the famous wrestler having sex with a friend’s wife. Hogan filed a lawsuit and sued on the grounds of privacy violation. In March, a Florida jury awarded him over $140 million in damages. On Wednesday, a judge refused Gawker‘s move for a new trial.
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) May 26, 2016
Sources say Thiel’s backing of Hulk Hogan might be connected to story that Gawker ran in 2007, with the headline “Peter Thiel is totally gay people,” despite the article having been written by a gay man, Owen Thomas, who attempted to argue that Silicon Valley venture capitalists were prejudicial towards gay investors, the article came off as harsh and accusatory.
Thiel was seriously offended and took a swipe at Gawker‘s now-defunct Silicon Valley centered blog, Valleywag, calling it the equivalent of “al-Qaeda.”
“It’s terrible for the Valley, which is supposed to be about people who are willing to think out loud and be different. I think they should be described as terrorists, not as writers or reporters… I don’t understand people who spend their lives being angry, it just seems unhealthy.”
Despite Hulk Hogan’s legal victory, Thiel said it was not up to him to decide what happened to Gawker. He said that if the American public rallied round the media site and pushed for more sex tapes to be posted online without people’s permission, they would find a way to save the sinking entity.
Hogan’s financial issues are an open secret. In 2011, he was allegedly living in a rented house after selling his Florida mansion for $6.2 million, $19 million below the market value. According to Dan Abrams, former co-anchor of Nightline and blogger on Law Newz, the trial would have cost Hogan at least $3 million in legal fees to see through, giving him a ready-made option to settle out of court and avoid a lengthy court process. Abram believes someone stopped him from settling out of court, urging him to see the case to its logical end.
His theory is that Gawker, being a gossip blog, is hated by the rich and powerful and someone wanted to see the media entity suffer significantly, and probably make it pay so much money that would force it to close down. Abram said he received a tip from lawyer friends that a certain benefactor was supporting Hulk Hogan financially, but did not take it seriously back then.
Gawker‘s founder, Nick Denton, said he did not want to believe the theory, but when Hogan’s lawyer, Charles Harder, brought a different set of cases against Gawker‘s writers and site properties, cases not even related to Hogan, he knew something sinister was in the offing.
“My personal hunch is that it’s linked to Silicon Valley. If you’re a billionaire, and you don’t like the coverage of you, and you don’t particularly want to embroil yourself any further in public scandal, it’s a pretty smart, rational thing to fund other legal cases.”
Do you think Hulk Hogan deserved his $140 million verdict against Gawker?
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