Business » Corporate

After Helping to Take Down Gawker, Out Tech Billionaire Thiel Wants to Buy Site

Friday Jan 12, 2018
Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel  (Source:AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

When he's not busy funding members-only LGBTQ "social clubs" called "Yass," openly gay tech billionaire Peter Thiel is attempting to buy websites he helped destroy.

The Trump-supporting Thiel has had a personal vendetta against Gawker since it outed him in a 2007 article. Writing an op-ed piece of the The New York Times in 2016, he said the site "violated my privacy and cashed in on it." The PayPal co-founder got his revenge by bankrolling Hulk Hogan's sex tape lawsuit against Gawker. The wrestler won his case, which eventually led to the site's downfall and eventual shutdown in 2016.

"All people deserve respect, and nobody's sexuality should be made a public fixation," Thiel wrote in his Times piece. "Unfortunately, lurid interest in gay life isn't a thing of the past."

It looks like Thiel isn't done with Gawker. Reuters reported Thursday he made an offer to buy Gawker, "hoping to overcome legal hurdles and rival bidders for the online news site..."

Univision purchased the site's parent company Gawker Media, which owns operating websites like Jezebel and Deadspin, in 2016. Part of the $135 million deal was the stipulation that no articles could be published on Gawker until March 9, 2018 - a date fast approaching.

Reuters writes, "Thiel has not said why he wants Gawker, though the potential acquisition would let him take down stories regarding his personal life that are still available on the website, and remove the scope for further litigation between him and Gawker." Gawker's lawyers tried to block Thiel's bid, according to court papers obtained by the news outlet.

The website's bankruptcy attorney Gregg Galardi asked a U.S. bankruptcy court judge in late November to deny the billionaire's request to bid, arguing Thiel is "not a 'proper' purchaser" because he could end up suing himself, the papers say.

Gawker's bankruptcy plan administrator Will Holden told Reuters there have been several bidders for the site.

The announcement of a winning bid could come as soon as this month but it would have to be approved by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge. If Holden rejects Thiel's bid, the businessman could request the judge consider it if it is higher than other offers.

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