Peter Thiel, comic book hero

Ben Thompson, Stratechery, first quotes this New York Times article:

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.

Ben then follows with some thoughts of his own:

If ever there were a case with no one to cheer for, this is it: Gawker does do good work, but they do really terrible things as well, and their outing of Thiel despite his explicit request not to is indefensible. It disgusts me, and my disgust is only deepened by the moralizing and righteousness of the post in question, as if Gawker has the right to make the most personal of decisions for anyone.

It is also legal and protected speech.


Thiel, meanwhile, is being a bully of the first order. He is attempting to run Gawker out of business — this lawsuit he is funding is one of many, and he has lawyers looking for more — in part because he can, and in part because he has styled himself as a twisted version of Batman: a vigilante who is not so much above the law (what he is doing is also perfectly legal), but rather one that uses the law to first and foremost avenge himself even as he spins a story about his defense of the vulnerable.

Bullying a bully, two wrongs making a mess. A hero? Read Thompson’s post.