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Tech Billionaire Peter Thiel Drops Out of SXSW Panel on Gawker Controversy

Peter Thiel is no longer scheduled to appear at SXSW 2018 to talk about his secret funding of lawsuits that led to the bankruptcy of Gawker Media.

Thiel had been scheduled to appear at the Austin, Texas, conference on March 10 in a discussion with writer and media strategist Ryan Holiday, author of the forthcoming book “Conspiracy” about Thiel’s involvement in taking down Gawker.

A rep for SXSW confirmed that Thiel “has dropped from SXSW, but we have no further information at this time.”

In 2016, Thiel was revealed to have funded wrestler Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit and two other suits against Gawker Media, which led to Gawker’s filing for bankruptcy and the sale of most of its assets to Univision Communications. Thiel, who said in a speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention that “I’m proud to be gay,” remained upset about a 2007 Gawker article that reported he was gay.

Thiel was Silicon Valley’s biggest booster of Donald Trump, having donated $1.25 million to Trump’s presidential campaign. Since Trump’s takeover of the White House, however, he has reportedly become disenchanted with the administration.

Thiel first amassed his wealth as co-founder of PayPal, which eBay acquired for $1.5 billion in 2002. He co-founded Palantir Technologies, a data-analytics and antifraud software company valued at $20 billion, in which he owns a significant stake.

Thiel’s Founders Fund is leading a $15 million investment round in viral hit trivia game HQ Trivia, according to a Recode report earlier this month.

Here’s the original description of the SXSW talk, titled “Conspiracy?! Peter Thiel with Author Ryan Holiday,” that Thiel had previously agreed to participate in:

“Peter Thiel orchestrated a nearly decade long conspiracy that culminated in the bankruptcy and closure of Gawker. It was a process that involved Hulk Hogan, the FBI, the First and Fourth Amendments and eventually, the next President of the United States. Author Ryan Holiday’s forthcoming book Conspiracy examines the case that rocked the media world. Join Holiday as he interviews Peter Thiel to discuss the takedown of Gawker while answering why he set it all in motion, how he did it and most importantly, what does it mean for privacy? For culture? For the future of the free press? In this lively discussion, Holiday and Thiel will discuss power, strategy, and one of the most devious secret plots in recent memory.”

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