Peter Thiel made his fortune as a co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook. In recent weeks he has found himself at the center of a debate over the influence money can have on journalism, and by extension, free speech. Thiel paid the lawyer who worked for Hulk Hogan in his suit against Gawker Media, eventually winning a massive judgement that led Gawker to declare bankruptcy. Thiel acknowledged the vendetta, which stems from a Gawker story published a decade earlier that outed him as gay, something Thiel wanted to keep private, or at least, out of the press.
Thiel had been funding the lawsuit anonymously against Gawker Media. In fact, he paid the lawyer to litigate several cases, of which the Hogan case was simply the most successful. He has also made a name for himself as an advocate for an offshore libertarian state, a singularity university funder, and Donald Trump delegate.
Like many other companies in Silicon Valley, Facebook has multiple classes of shares, only some of which are available to the public for purchase. That means that founder Mark Zuckerberg and other members of the board essentially have unilateral control on all votes, as their shares weigh far more heavily in the final tally. All that means is that, unless public outrage over Thiel’s actions against Gawker grows far stronger, his seat on the board of the social network site is likely safe.