There are plenty of angel investors in Silicon Valley, but angel lawsuit financiers? That’s what some insiders say is going on in Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media over the blog’s publication of a sex tape, um, featuring the former wrestler.
Forbes reported Tuesday that PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel was paying the legal bills for Hulk Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea). Forbes said anonymous sources confirmed Thiel’s involvement.
Observers (like Buzzfeed) suggest Thiel’s ulterior motive isn’t so much to help Hogan win as to financially damage Gawker and its founder, Nick Denton, possibly as revenge for a 2007 article on Gawker site Valleywag saying Thiel was gay. Thiel has been open about his animosity: He referred to the site as “the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda,” and Denton had written that Thiel threatened him with “destruction” for writing about his sexuality.
There’s a lot at stake for Gawker here. It’s currently appealing a verdict of $140 million decided against it, a legal battle it’s paying for out of pocket thanks to a decision by Hogan’s legal team to drop a particular claim that would have allowed Gawker’s insurance to step in and pick up the tab. This anomaly was one of the reasons that led media outlets — like the New York Times, which published a story about the speculation around the suit earlier this week — to suggest that someone else could be paying for Hulk Hogan’s lawyers.