Billionaire Peter Thiel has agreed not to buy news and gossip site Gawker.
The reason he and his investment firm are choosing to step away? Thiel would avoid a potential countersuit for secretly bankrolling the litigation that drove the blog’s publisher out of business. This marks the end of a year-long legal battle and clears the road for Gawker to sell its assets in bankruptcy.
The drama started when Gawker lost a lawsuit by retired professional wrestler Hulk Hogan over publishing a clip from a sex tape that Hogan said violated his privacy. This forced Gawker to stop publishing in 2016. It was later discovered that Thiel had funded Hogan’s successful legal case against the media company.
In a 2016 editorial for the New York Times, Thiel said he was “proud to have contributed financial support” to Hogan’s case. He went on to say that he would “gladly support someone else in the same position.”
Gawker accused Thiel of destroying it in revenge for a 2007 article in which it outed him as gay. Thiel was rumored to express interest in acquiring the company’s remaining assets as a way to shut down Gawker’s investigation into the tech billionaire’s role in underwriting the lawsuit that led to the company’s bankruptcy.
But now, the drama is coming to an end. As part of the agreement, Thiel also “will not engage, cause any third party to engage, or provide funding to any third party for the purpose of engaging” in taking down any of Gawker’s archived web content.