This Is Why Billionaire Peter Thiel Wants to End Gawker - 2016-05-26
Why has Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel spent upwards of $10 million funding third-party lawsuits against Gawker? If you believe his interview with the New York Times, Thiel's willingness to bankroll litigation brought by Hulk Hogan and other plaintiffs stems from several posts, including a 2007 item about Thiel dating men, that have, in his words, "ruined people's lives for no reason." But the record of Thiel's past comments paints a much more complicated picture of his motivation to end Gawker for good.
It is true, as Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton wrote in an infamous comment nine years ago, that Thiel was so anxious about Gawker's coverage of his dating life that he tried everything in his power to have it suppressed: "I got a series of messages relaying the destruction that would rain down on me, and various innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, if a story ever ran." At the time, the billionaire was a regular reader of Valleywag. "If I'm honest, I check it often, even when it's somewhat embarrassing to me," he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in July 2007.
Two years later, though, Thiel had apparently come to terms with being in the spotlight. In a May 2009 interview, he called Gawker "purely destructive" and compared its staffers to Islamist terrorists, but acknowledged that the site wasn't out to get him or treat him harshly. "I don't feel that I'm being unequally targeted," he explained. His criticism of Gawker hinged, instead, on the site's built-in skepticism—bordering on disdain—for the burgeoning technology sector: