Peter Thiel is no longer trying to get his hands on Gawker’s now-dormant website and its archive of articles — apparently to avoid a costly and embarrassing legal fight over his backing of the litigation that drove Gawker Media into bankruptcy.
In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York Wednesday, Thiel and his investment firm, Thiel Capital, said they had reached an agreement with the firm handling the liquidation of Gawker Media’s remaining assets to withdraw the bid.
In addition, Thiel’s agreement will provide a legal release for the eventual purchaser of Gawker.com as well as the writers of the articles on the site. He also agreed to not fund any legal action against Gawker Media going forward. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In 2016, Thiel was revealed to have funded wrestler Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media, along with two other suits. Those led to Gawker’s filing for bankruptcy and the sale of most of its assets to Univision Communications for $135 million. 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.
Hogan successfully won judgments for $140 million in damages in the case against Gawker, which had published a sex video showing the wrestler in flagrante delicto with his ex-friend’s wife. Under a bankruptcy court settlement for $31 million, Hogan — whose real name is Terry Bollea — is entitled to 45% of the proceeds from the sale of Gawker. (In addition, the article with the sex video of Bollea was deleted from the Gawker site.)
Following the sale of six websites to Univision, the Gawker Media assets include the Gawker.com domain name, social-media accounts and an archive of almost 200,000 articles. Lawyers for Gawker Media had objected to Thiel’s proposal to buy up those assets, suggesting he wanted to purge articles that Gawker had published about him — or simply eradicate the whole thing.
Thiel currently has a net worth of $2.5 billion, according to Forbes. He first amassed his wealth after co-founding PayPal, which eBay acquired for $1.5 billion in 2002. Thiel also co-founded and owns a significant stake in Palantir Technologies, a data-analytics and antifraud software company valued at $20 billion. He is currently a partner at venture-capital firm Founders Fund and a Facebook board member.