Reports: Tech Billionaire Peter Thiel Secretly Bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s Lawsuit Against Gawker

J.K. Trotter · 05/25/16 08:50AM

On Monday, the New York Times reported that Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton had come to believe that a wealthy individual has been funding a steady stream of lawsuits, including three different ones filed by Hulk Hogan alone, against his company. Two journalists at Forbes magazine, Ryan Mac and Matt Drange, are lending credence to Denton’s theory. On Tuesday evening, the pair revealed that the powerful Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel has been secretly underwriting Hulk Hogan’s litigation against Gawker:

Facebook Backer Wishes Women Couldn't Vote

Owen Thomas · 04/28/09 01:53PM

Peter Thiel, foremost among Silicon Valley's loopy libertarians and the first outside investor in Facebook, has written an essay declaring that the country went to hell as soon as women won the right to vote.

Was TechCrunch50 rigged?

Owen Thomas · 09/11/08 04:00PM

The anointing of Yammer as the winner of TechCrunch50 has raised questions about how the startup-launch conference operates. Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, has made much of the fact that he and fellow event organizer Jason Calacanis don't charge startups to present at the show, as established rival Demo does. But people who attended the show are saying behind his back that the contest was rigged in favor of a pet startup of Arrington's with ties to one of the event's sponsors.Yammer is a business-friendly copy of Twitter. It's an offshoot of Geni, a Web-based genealogy site started by former PayPal COO David Sacks, which raised $100 million in venture capital last year. TechCrunch50's prize panel, composed of Arrington and a few TechCrunch insiders (shown here, in a spy photo taken at the event), passed over more promising startups like FitBit, the maker of a wellness-monitoring gadget. Quality aside, a sense of fairness might have led Arrington to give Yammer the skip: Neither Sacks nor Geni needed the $50,000 prize. Arrington's crush on Geni has been obvious since before its launch. (Most recently, he claimed Geni had close to a million visitors a month in August; according to a link to Arrington himself included in his writeup, it's actually 400,000, a fraction of the audience enjoyed by established genealogy sites like and MyHeritage.) The problem with events like this is no one is unconflicted. But Sacks is in particularly deep: His former boss at PayPal, Peter Thiel, now runs VC firm Founders Fund, one of TechCrunch50's sponsors. Arrington has long been rumored to favor startups backed by the VCs who sponsor his event. He brags that he doesn't charge startups directly to appear on stage. But he seems to like to have them in his pocket, one way or another.

Peter Thiel funds Elon Musk's sputtering rocketships

Nicholas Carlson · 08/07/08 12:20PM

Peter Thiel fought viciously with Elon Musk in the early part of this decade; after they merged their companies to form with PayPal, they wrestled for control, with Thiel emerging victorious as the CEO who led the company through an IPO and a $1.5 billion sale to eBay. At the time, Musk was the richer, having sold a forgotten company to another forgotten company for an unforgettable $220 million. The two have long since made up — and a lucky thing for Musk, who now finds himself a supplicant to Thiel. Thiel's venture capital firm, the Founders Fund, has agreed to invest $20 million in Musk's faltering SpaceX, a rocket-ship startup whose latest vehicle crashed into the Pacific Ocean rather than soaring into the beyond.Ignominiously, the botched launch ended up splashing the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who play Scotty in Star Trek's ashes all over the Pacific. Perhaps more materially, three satellites — two from NASA and another form the department of defense — also saw their trips cut drastically short. Thiel's $20 million follows $100 million of Musk's own money already sunk into the project. As friendly as the two are now, Thiel's investment has to be humiliating — a reminder that Musk may have the occasional clever idea, but it takes a Thiel to make it pay off.

iJustine and Justin dating — but not that Justin

Owen Thomas · 06/11/08 11:00AM

A tipster tells us that Justine Ezarik, the diminutive videoblogger better known as iJustine, has hooked up with a guy named Justin. Not the unprepossessing and socially inept Justin Kan of, with whom she's often jokingly linked, but Justin Fishner-Wolfson, a venture-capital associate at Peter Thiel's Founders Fund. The two make an adorable couple, our tipster says, especially because they see eye to eye. He estimates Ezarik's height at 5'1"; Fishner-Wolfson's not much taller, as his Stanford graduation photo shows. Not that his stature matters: By dating Ezarik, he rises above thousands of jealous iJustine fanboys. Update: Ezarik denies that she and Fishner-Wolfson are an item — and claims to be 5'3". (In heels, perhaps.)

Facebook investor Peter Thiel No. 10 in Out's list of powerful gays

Owen Thomas · 05/12/08 10:40PM

Peter Thiel, the famed venture capitalist who cofounded PayPal and funded Facebook, has not spoken about his private life since Valleywag broke the curious silence about the gay entrepreneur's sexuality in December. (He hadn't really discussed it before then, either.) But it has again become the topic of conversation. Out has put him in tenth place on its Power 50 list of prominent gays and lesbians. The magazine praises him for his multibillion-dollar hedge fund (Out says it's worth $3 billion, but we've heard $5 billion) as well as his $1 billion stake in Facebook and his funding of the Methuselah Foundation, an anti-aging research group. Knowing Peter, we suspect that none of this bothers him particularly — except for the fact that he wasn't No. 1.

Facebook CTO Adam D'Angelo's next move

Owen Thomas · 05/12/08 01:20PM

Adam D'Angelo's departure "broke my heart," one Facebook insider told us. But Facebook's backers are shedding no tears. We hear that both Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and Accel Partners are considering D'Angelo for an entrepreneur-in-residence role — a sinecure venture capital firms offer Valley executives while they're looking for a new startup idea. He's also talking to Google, which is surely eager to reverse the flow of its employees to Facebook.

4 things BusinessWeek won't tell you about its under-30 entrepreneurs

Owen Thomas · 04/18/08 03:00PM

The problem with lists like BusinessWeek's collection of 13 under-30 entrepreneurs: Inevitably, in an effort to fill a demographic quota, editors scrape the bottom of the barrel. And presenting a balanced picture of these business novices cuts against the goal of serving up fresh faces. (Whether they're supposed to make BusinessWeek's 50something readers feel either young again or even older, I'm not quite sure.) Here are some things that BusinessWeek would just as soon you not know about members of its boy band:

Facebook spends $50,000 of Microsoft's money on investor's nightclub

Owen Thomas · 03/10/08 07:42PM

Microsoft's $200 million is not all going to buy servers, as Mark Zuckerberg would like you to think. He splashed out $50,000 to rent Pangaea, an Austin nightclub, for the week, or so a doorman said as he turned away a local the other night. Pangaea is part-owned by Ken Howery of the Founders Fund, a Facebook investor. The payoff of this cozy arrangement: When Zuckerberg needed to do damage control a day after his tragicomic keynote interview, he had a stage at the ready. (Photo by Yelp/Kevin N.)

Max Levchin's Slide set to take in new funding

Nicholas Carlson · 01/18/08 12:33PM

Serial entrepreneur and PayPal cofounder Max Levchin's widget maker Slide will take in a new round of funding, according to Boom Town. The deal, put together by New York-based Allen & Company, is said to propel Slide's value well past the $60 million to $80 million set just over a year ago.

Peter Thiel to move his hedge fund to New York

Owen Thomas · 01/16/08 07:29PM

Why on earth is Silicon Valley's fastest-rising venture capitalist moving to New York? In the Valley, Peter Thiel is best known for his prescient investment in Facebook. His $500,000 grubstake is now worth $750 million on paper. And his Founders Fund may well revolutionize the venture-capital industry. But in real cash money, Thiel has made far more from Clarium Capital, the hedge fund he's operated since selling PayPal to eBay in 2002.

Is Plaxo ready to sell to Facebook?

Owen Thomas · 01/04/08 09:30AM

It's curious that rumors of a Plaxo sale exploded at the same time that Robert Scoble got his Facebook account suspended using a secret, unreleased tool for extracting data from Facebook. Curious, too, that Plaxo is so eager to milk the incident for good PR. While a battle of words takes place in public, we hear that quieter talks are happening behind the scenes: A sale of Plaxo to Facebook. A clash between the companies' backers, though — the powerful VC Michael Moritz and the rising VC star Peter Thiel — could sink any deal.

Peter Thiel is totally gay, people

Owen Thomas · 12/19/07 07:05PM

By now, you've likely heard how Peter Thiel parlayed a $500,000 investment in Facebook to a stake now worth $750 million. There's been a crush of coverage on his $220 million Founders Fund, which may well change the way entrepreneurs get paid in the Valley. We know about his mansion (he rents it — clever!), his butler, his early-morning jogs. But what no one ever says out loud: Thiel is gay.

Peter Thiel's fund raises $220 million

Owen Thomas · 12/18/07 01:49AM

Founders Fund, Peter Thiel's venture-capital vehicle for overturning Sand Hill Road's staid ways, has raised a war chest of $220 million. The Wall Street Journal reports that some of that has come from college endowments, including Stanford's, but there are whispers that some of it also came from overseas investors in Asia and the Middle East. No matter: What's important is where it's going. Unlike traditional VCs, Thiel's VC fund has no qualms about lining the pockets of entrepreneurs, even before their companies get sold or go public. Other VCs hate this, of course. Why settle for vague promises of riches, when Thiel's outfit is promising the real thing, right now?

Mark Zuckerberg cashes out?

Owen Thomas · 12/08/07 01:58AM

Venture capital's ancien régime is on the verge of being overturned. We hear Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, may have cashed out — before an IPO, before a sale, and before his investors. In the company's recent financing round, insiders believe, he sold about $40 million worth of stock. A tiny portion of his $5 billion stake, but in cash rather than on paper, and "enough that he never has to think about money for the rest of his life," says a person made privy to details of the sale. On the Sand Hill Road of old, this is simply not how things are done.

Founders Fund partners hiring personal assistant

Owen Thomas · 12/05/07 07:00PM

Peter Thiel has a butler, and we're not the only ones who are jealous. The former PayPal CEO turned venture capitalist has, it seems, inspired his colleagues at the Founders Fund to get a bit more household help. Ken Howery, one of Thiel's partners at the fund, is seeking a personal assistant. You won't find the job listing on the fund's website — he's circulating this help-wanted by email. The assistant will help Howery and a colleague pay bills, keep house, go shopping, and do research. Want to be a gofer for San Francisco's hot VC firm of the moment? Drop Howery a line at first initial last name at foundersfund dot com. Oh, the firm's also hiring a CFO, controller, and associate. The personal-assistant job description, after the jump.

Sean Parker drops out of college, again and again and again

Owen Thomas · 11/01/07 05:13PM

Earlier this week, we noted that on Facebook, Sean Parker, the social network's former president, claimed to have graduated simultaneously, from Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, Pepperdine, USC, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, New York University, and Stanford, in 2002. As far as we can determine, the only diploma Parker has ever received was from Oakton High School. (A fellow northern Virginian!) Parker's profile has since been updated. He no longer belongs to those colleges' Facebook networks, a status which allowed him to view otherwise private student and alumni profiles. Oddly, though, he still claims to have attended those schools in the "Education" section of his profile. Parker, still a Facebook investor, now works at Peter Thiel's venture capital firm, the Founders Fund. One hopes the fund's investors weren't going on Parker's fictional degrees when they plunked down their cash.