5 Things to Know About PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel

PHOTO: Peter Thiel, head of Clarium Capital Management LLC and founding investor in PayPal Inc. and Facebook Inc., speaks during the LendIt USA 2016 conference on April 12, 2016, in San Francisco.PlayBloomberg via Getty Images
WATCH Billionaire Reveals He Funded Hulk Hogan's Gawker Lawsuit

Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, confirmed on Wednesday that he bankrolled Hulk Hogan's invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker.

In an interview with the New York Times, the tech entrepreneur admitted that he paid about $10 million in legal fees for Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, during his trial over the publication of a sex tape featuring the former wrestler.

Ultimately, a jury awarded Hogan $140 million in damages, and earlier this month, he sued Gawker again, this time for intentional infliction of emotional distress, claiming that the website leaked sealed transcript in which he made a racial slur.

Gawker founder Nick Denton, who was named in the lawsuit, told the New York Times on Wednesday he had a "personal hunch" that the suit was funded by someone in Silicon Valley. On Wednesday, he told the newspaper that Thiel's opinion of the media company "does not trump our millions of readers who know us for routinely driving big news stories."

But who is Peter Thiel? Here are a few things to know.

1. He has a history with Gawker: In 2007, Gawker published a story with the headline, "Peter Thiel Is Totally Gay, People" before he had publicly discussed his sexuality, and the tech entrepreneur has been at odds with the media company ever since. In 2009, Thiel spoke to a reporter with the PE HUB network and called the since-shuttered Gawker blog Valleywag "the Silicon Valley equivalent of al-Qaeda." "I’m not particularly flattered by being targeted. I actually think it’s sort of the psychology of a terrorist, where it’s purely destructive," he said. "[Valleywag] scares everybody. It’s terrible for the Valley, which is supposed to be about people who are willing to think out loud and be different. I think they should be described as terrorists, not as writers or reporters."

In his interview with the Times, Thiel said that his financial backing of Hogan was "less about revenge and more about specific deterrence." "I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest," he said. "I thought it was worth fighting back."

2. He's a delegate for Donald Trump: Earlier this month, Thiel's name appeared on a list of Republican delegates pledged to Donald Trump. A longtime supporter of Republican candidates, Thiel also donated $2 million to a super PAC that supported Carly Fiorina earlier this year.

3. He's worth billions: Forbes reported that Thiel has a net worth of $2.7 billion. In addition to his work with PayPal, he was an early investor in Facebook and has more recently backed Airbnb, Practice Fusion and Stripe. He explained his tech philosophy to the magazine as follows "There's a sense in which technology is, by definition, non-repetitive. And every moment in technological history only happens once."

4. He launched a fellowship to help college students drop out of school: Thiel launched the Thiel Fellowship in 2011 -- a $100,000 grant to help young people create new technologies with the support of tech founders, investors and scientists. According to the fellowship's website, Thiel Fellows have launched more than 60 companies worth more than $1.1 billion.

5. He's also dabbled in the arts: Thiel is the author of two books, including "The Diversity Myth," in which he and his co-author David O. Sacks criticized what they deemed to be political correctness at their alma mater, Stanford, and argued that it caused the quality of an education there to go downhill. He also co-produced the 2005 film "Thank You For Smoking" and has written stories for the likes of the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

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