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Battle of the Silicon Valley Billionaires Expected after Gawker Lawsuit

Battle of the Silicon Valley Billionaires Expected after Gawker Lawsuit
Gawker Media LLC has managed to find a new supporter and partner in its legal battle against wrestler Hulk Hogan.
A the high-profile lawsuit against Gawker Media LLC brought by wrestler Hulk Hogan would see First Look Media, a news organization founded by Silicon Valley billionaire Pierre Omidyar seeking to support Gawker Media LLC, Omidyar said.
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, and other plaintiffs suing Gawker, would be supported by Peter Thiel, another technology billionaire and co-founder of PayPal. This announcement of support for Hogan was by Thiel was announced earlier this week. The New York media company was ordered to pay $140 million after a jury found in favor of Bollea in March.
the group is organizing supporters to file a friend-of-the-court brief arguing in favor of Gawker, said Beau Friedlander, a spokesman for First Look. Friedlander said the case threatens press freedom under the First Amendment.
“We will be paying close attention as this case moves into its appeals phase. To be clear, this is about press freedom principles upon which our company was founded, and about which we care deeply,” Friedlander wrote in an e-mail.
EBay Inc., the auction site that made him a billionaire, was founded by Omidyar before he started First Look. Before the two companies ultimately split ways last year, EBay had acquired Thiel’s PayPal in 2002.
The Intercept, a news website staffed by journalists who revealed details of U.S. government spying with the help of Edward Snowden is also owned by Omidyar’s First Look.
There were no comments from Thiel. There were no immediate response and comments from Gawker even after being requested by the media.  The relations between the two have been sour in recent times as the website had written about Thiel being gay in 2007 before he discussed it publicly.
Thiel was challenged to a debate about free speech and journalistic ethics by Gawker Chief Executive Officer Nick Denton earlier this week. The website that focuses on the media and celebrity-related news has been described by Thiel as a website business that was built on “humiliating people for sport.”
Claiming that the website had cost Bollea endorsements and inflicted emotional harm, Gawker had been sued by Bollea in 2012 over the publication of a video showing him having sex with a friend’s wife.
Gawker had hired a banker to explore strategic options, including a possible sale after the realization that paying the damages in that suit could potentially cripple the company. Details of First Look’s planned amicus brief were reported earlier by the New York Post.


Christopher J. Mitchell

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