The legendary investor and cofounder of PayPal finally opened up tonight about the report that’s been ricocheting around Silicon Valley and in media circles this week: That he helped finance Hulk Hogan’s massive invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker.
Thiel told the New York Times that he was driven to take on the site in the wake of stories on Gawker’s Valleywag blog that outed him and “ruined” his friends’ lives “for no reason.” He funded a team of lawyers less out of revenge and more for “deterrence,” he explained, adding that he has spent “in the ballpark” of $10 million on the effort.
When questioned about whether such an initiative undermines his strong support for freedom of speech, Thiel said he refuses to believe that journalism “means massive privacy violations.” He added that he considers his financial support for such litigation “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.”
The blockbuster revelation outraged many journalists, some of whom called for Thiel to step down from the board of Facebook:
Thiel’s behavior goes against the principle of free speech. He needs to step down from the board of Facebook, company with vast media power.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) May 26, 2016