Tampa Bay - Hulk Hogan had a secret financial backer in his legal fight against Gawker Media for invasion of privacy.
Peter Thiel, a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, helped fund the case brought by the wrestler, Terry Gene Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, against Gawker, said a person briefed on the arrangement who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of the earliest investors in Facebook, privately agreed to help pay the expenses of Bollea’s legal team, this person said. A self-described libertarian, Thiel has a long history with Gawker, which published an article in 2007 outing him as gay. Thiel, who is now open about his sexual orientation, once described the Gawker-owned site Valleywag as “the Silicon Valley equivalent of al-Qaida.”
There is nothing illegal about funding such legal cases; there is an entire industry known as litigation finance that often helps invest in and financially support lawyers working on contingency in small and large cases. It is not common for a lawsuit to be backed by a third party that may have other motives.
Back in the day, Deadspin used to be the Wild Wild West of the Internet. It was a site that didn’t give a fuck about being PC, about morality, or about anything other than jokes and being as brash and outlandish as possible. Much like Barstool, but with technology that worked and financing, this allowed Deadspin to become one of the biggest sites on the Internet. But Deadspin also did was some uncool stuff along the way, including outing Peter Thiel as gay. For some reason, this has always been Gawker Media’s big thing that they can’t leave alone- outing people before they want to be outed. It makes very little sense, but it’s kind of the bed they’ve made for themselves over the years. And now it appears to have come back to bite them in the ass.
Peter Thiel financing Hulk Hogan’s massive win over Gawker Media is nothing short of a triumph. I guess that’s where the old saying “don’t piss off a billionaire” comes from. Because that billionaire might come back 9 years later and help fight a lawsuit that could bring down your entire media empire (using the word “empire” loosely here…not sure Jezebel and a blog about cars really counts as an empire, but still). It’s just the ultimate fuck you, and I cannot imagine the feeling Thiel had when the verdict was read. I wonder what felt better, turning his original $500,000 Facebook investment into 1 billion dollars, or watching Nick Denton get humiliated.
The #HulkVsGawk trial is actually back at it today for an all-day hearing on Gawker’s motion to do…A WHOLE NEW TRIAL. Gees Louise. That’s what’s so zany about our court system. Appeals on appeals on appeals. We’re all going to be dead before this thing finally ends.