Peter Thiel, "libertarian," wants to buy Gawker's archive, which would give him the power to censor stories he didn't like


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/14/down-the-memory-hole.html


#2

Reminiscent of when Scientology won control of Cult Awareness Network’s files after they sued CAN out of existence.

When you are following Scientology’s game plan you are doing something very wrong.


#3

If the bankruptcy reps want to protect the archives from this neofeudalist vampire they should let archive.org borrow the Gawker archive to improve the quality and integrity of what they’ve already crawled from Gawker for posterity.


#4

After Thiel gets control of the gawker domain, he can switch off Wayback from displaying the archives for it.


#5

Interesting. I’m sure it might require some serious bandwidth and storage space, but Archive’s downloader functionality might come in useful before Milord completes the purchase.

One way or another, no matter how much money he throws at the problem, that archive isn’t going to just vanish. That includes this decade-old “startling revelation” (to no-one in 2007 who knew or cared who he was) that he’s still butthurt over, quoted in full from Gawker:

Peter Thiel is totally gay, people
450.80K [views]
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.

Venture capital is a business about risk — but only the right kinds of risk. Unproven technology? Fine. A host of rivals? No problem. A gay founder? Oh, hey, wait a second. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But someone else, somewhere else, might take issue with it. That’s VC thinking.

“Of course he’s gay. Why would you mention that?” Here in northern California, where intolerance is the only thing we can’t tolerate, even alluding to someone’s sexual orientation is suspect. (Even if, like me, you’re gay yourself.) Yet as one venture capitalist put it, “The VC industry is headquartered in Menlo Park, not northern California.” On Sand Hill Road, like funds like. The clubby ranks of VCs are mostly straight, white and male. They instinctively prefer entrepreneurs who remind them of themselves. At best, it’s a wrongheaded sense of caution. At worst, it’s prejudice with a handy alibi.

The effects are hard to document. VCs fund so few of the companies they talk to that it’s hard to prove a case of discrimination; there are a hundred reasons why they might pass on any given startup. But gay and lesbian entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to agree it’s real. PlanetOut, the gay and lesbian portal, had to buy out Sequoia Capital, which had come to regret its investment in the company, before it found braver VCs and eventually went public. And really: How many out gay VCs do you know?

I think it explains a lot about Thiel: His disdain for convention, his quest to overturn established rules. Like the immigrant Jews who created Hollywood a century ago, a gay investor has no way to fit into the old establishment. That frees him or her to build a different, hopefully better system for identifying and rewarding talented individuals, and unleashing their work on the world.

That’s why I think it’s important to say this: Peter Thiel, the smartest VC in the world, is gay. More power to him.


#6

Of all the objections I have to Peter Thiel, gay isn’t on the list and I don’t see the need to throw it in his face, except as the apparent basis for his vindictiveness.

The fact is, under the current Archive.com policy, as soon as he gets control of gawker.com, and adds a robots.txt exclusion, blam, the archives are gone for the whole site. I’m unsure if that means that they delete the archives or just permanently mark them as excluded. Even if they weren’t deleted, it would be easy for him to set up a trust fund and a top law firm to ensure that the domain excludes archive.com until the fall of civilization.


#7

That’s exactly why I posted it in full here, my tiny bit to demonstrate the Streisand Effect to this thin-skinned fascist. The article that started his vendetta should be thrown in his face, again and again. As for his sexual orientation, no-one in SV cared if he was gay back in 2007 and they certainly don’t in 2018, but that article will be floating around the Internet long after he’s exacted his pissy vengeance on Nick Denton.

And screw Thiel and his attack lawyers: if he buys gawker.com I hope someone downloads the whole Gawker archive from the Wayback Machine, rars it up, and posts a Bittorrent tracker for it.


#8

If the bankruptcy reps do anything other than try to maximize the value of the assets for the creditors, then they aren’t doing their job.

What Thiel is doing sucks, but it’s Gawker. I have a hard time getting very worked up about this.


#9

That’s a long winded way of saying, “I’m using homophobia to attack a homophobe”.

If you have to explain why it’s okay for you to do it, it’s probably not.

As an aside, I’ll go controversial and say I’m not sad that Gawker is gone.


#10

They’re actively trying to block Thiel’s bid according to the article, so the value of the archive asset apparently isn’t measured only in dollars to them.

Our opinion of the media outlet doesn’t matter. Yes, it’s a tabloid and gossip rag, but that’s no reason not to get worked up over a powerful person trying to memory-hole it over a petty beef that did not involve the outlet defaming him.

BS. The article could have been about him liking Nickelback or his not being the libertarian he claims to be for all I care. If there’s any homophobia involved in this it’s Thiel’s own unwarranted self-loathing. Again: no-one else cares or cared if he’s gay, not even the alt-right scumbags he funds. The article posted could have been about any true innocuous thing he felt was embarrassing to him.

Serious question for those who (like me) hold much of Gawker’s journalism in low regard: as a media outlet is it any less deserving of being protected from one of Thiel’s personal vendettas than BoingBoing is? BB doesn’t employ bottom-feeders like AJ Daulerio, but it is a left-leaning group blog that plays things a bit fast and loose with its headlines and content and publishes a lot of truly unflattering articles about Thiel – one Hogan-like error on a BB author’s part about someone else and Thiel could easily fund and win another ruinous lawsuit and get the same results here.


#12

First they came for Gawker etc.


#13

Could we please quit saying that Peter Thiel killed Gawker?

He didn’t.

Peter Thiel financed a perfectly reasonable invasion-of-privacy suit*, and then Gawker executives slit their company’s own throat with their aggressively clueless and self-absorbed testimony in front of a jury.

They were sued by Terry Bollea for invasion of privacy, but they were punished by the jury for the smugness, vulgarity, and self-satisfied hubris they displayed in court.

That’s what killed Gawker.

That may well be unjust, and the penalty may well be vindictive, out of scale to the actual legal offense, but it’s not Peter Thiel’s fault that the jury was feeling vindictive that day.


* Does anyone here want to argue that “Hulk Hogan’s sex tape” was sufficiently “newsworthy” as to justify its publication despite the blatant invasion of privacy?


#14

I agree with everything you say about how Gawker conducted itself both in the Bollea story and the court case. However, Thiel’s financing of Hogan’s lawsuit* and hiring Harder (the guy who sent the ridiculous letter to Michael Wolff’s publisher the other day) to pursue the case no matter what made a big difference. And make no mistake, Thiel financed it and chose Harder as the lawyer because he himself had no reasonable lawsuit against Gawker to press on his own behalf but wanted to destroy it, not because he’s a wrestling fan or a champion of a responsible press.

Thiel’s trying to buy and destroy Gawker’s assets, which is the subject being discussed, has nothing to do with continuing to help out his “buddy” Bollea/Hogan. As I understand it the Hogan story is long gone from Gawker.

[* or was it Bollea’s lawsuit? While Gawker botched the case, the other side didn’t press its case with integrity either, what with all the confusion about who the plaintiff was at any given time]


#15

I wasn’t really a patron of Gawker. I assume they had some quality writing? Because everything here makes it wound like the content was pure filth. Was it at least quality filth?


#17

It was a tabloid and gossip rag. The writing was a very mixed bag, as was the reporting. They did break and pursue the Rob Ford crack story when other outlets hesitated and also took on $cientology on stories other outlets were scared to touch.


#18

I’m not defending every single thing Peter Thiel ever did or is currently trying to do; I’m just tired of hearing people repeat that he “killed Gawker.”

He didn’t. Gawker slit its own throat.


#19

You have one opinion. Most people have the other one.

Gawker’s death was suicide by hubris.

I think I understand: by “suicide”, you mean assassination, and by “hubris” you mean Peter Thiel and his infinite bankroll.


#20

Did we read the same article? The article says (emphasis added):

Venture capital is a business about risk — but only the right kinds of risk. Unproven technology? Fine. A host of rivals? No problem. A gay founder? Oh, hey, wait a second. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But someone else, somewhere else, might take issue with it.

On Sand Hill Road, like funds like. The clubby ranks of VCs are mostly straight, white and male. They instinctively prefer entrepreneurs who remind them of themselves. At best, it’s a wrongheaded sense of caution. At worst, it’s prejudice with a handy alibi.

The effects are hard to document. VCs fund so few of the companies they talk to that it’s hard to prove a case of discrimination; there are a hundred reasons why they might pass on any given startup. But gay and lesbian entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to agree it’s real.

Here in northern California, where intolerance is the only thing we can’t tolerate, even alluding to someone’s sexual orientation is suspect. (Even if, like me, you’re gay yourself.) Yet as one venture capitalist put it, “The VC industry is headquartered in Menlo Park, not northern California.”

So, in an environment rife with anti-gay (pro-straight?) discrimination, the only possible homophobia you can
imagine relating to a gay man’s choice to not to be publicly ‘out’ is his “own unwarranted self-loathing”?

If “everyone already knows” and “no one cares” that Thiel is gay, then why is that fact the focus of a gossip-rag article in Gawker?

The article’s author knows damn well that LOTS of people DO care — he even says as much in the article itself — and he apparently wants to make sure that anyone who might not already know, does.

(For political purposes of his own, you’'ll note. Apparently, he himself is NOT part of the “everyone” who doesn’t care.)


#21

So that would be a “no”, I take it? :slight_smile:


#22

Yes we did. The article is calling out what it sees as homophobic culture in the Silicon Valley VC culture (I don’t think the criticism is accurate, since the only thing that VCs care about when it comes to someone like Thiel is how much money he has). It also calls for more gay VCs as a positive development. Its point was an LGBT-friendly attempt to encourage gay entrepreneurs and VCs in the Valley to be proudly out, and it highlighted a particularly successful example.

Thiel was pissed off about the article not because it was homophobic but because a media outlet dared publish a well-known fact about him (a public figure) that made him personally uncomfortable without his permission. Since it was not defamatory he then went about getting his revenge through a washed-up wrestler and an attorney who specialises in trying to suppress free speech for anyone (including the “inventor” of e-mail) who will meet his fee.