Peter Thiel, a billionaire who made his money as an entrepreneur and investor in Silicon Valley, revealed himself to be the one financing the lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media. Wrestler Terry Gene Bollea, popularly known as Hulk Hogan, had filed a suit for invasion of privacy against the online news agency, following the latter's publishing of a sex tape in 2012.
Gawker Media had earlier expressed its suspicions regarding a secret backer behind the Hogan lawsuit, which ultimately led to Thiel's confirmation that he was bankrolling the suit in an interview with the New York Times yesterday.
Thiel's issue with Gawker dates back to 2007, when the now-defunct Gawker Media blog, Valleywag, published a story titled "Peter Thiel is Totally Gay, People," which revealed several professional and personal details of Thiel's life. He also stated in the Times interview that many of his friends have been victimized by Gawker, which led him to strike back by funding more than one lawsuit against the news agency. Thiel claims that his actions are meant to deter Gawker Media from bullying people, according to CNN.
Incidentally, a Florida court awarded $140 million to Hulk Hogan earlier this year. Gawker intends to appeal the decision. It defended itself in the Times by mentioning several stories it has brought to light over the years.
Apart from the hostility between Thiel and Gawker, the former's revelation has sparked a discussion over what this means to the freedom of speech, as well as the right to privacy. Many feel that a billionaire and co-founder of Paypal financing a lawsuit against the press is a threat against one's right to free speech. But the fact remains that there is no legal objection to a third party financing a lawsuit, and it will by no means lead to a retrial if the same does not affect the merits of the case.