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eBay boss joins Thiel critics

By Kieren McCarthy, 3 Jun 2016

The CEO of eBay, Devin Wenig, has become the latest Silicon Valley exec to take issue with VC Peter Thiel's secret lawsuit funding.

Speaking at the CodeCon conference on Thursday, Wenig said: "I side with the free media and the free press," when asked about Thiel's decision to fund and direct the case brought by Hulk Hogan against sleaze-blog Gawker.

Odd decisions in the case aimed at bankrupting the site rather than settling the case, and led Gawker CEO Nick Denton to conclude that someone with an axe to grind was funding the lawsuit.

Thiel kept his involvement secret, but finally admitted he was behind it when he was named in a news report. He claimed that it was an "act of philanthropy." Gawker outed Thiel as gay back in 2007. Wenig joins Amazon boss Jeff Bezos in condemning Thiel.

Bezos said earlier this week: "I don't think a billionaire should be able to fund a lawsuit to kill Gawker," adding, "the best defense against speech you don't like is a thick skin. If you can't tolerate critics, then don't do anything new or interesting."

But Thiel does have his supporters. Fellow billionaire Vinod Khosla tweeted his support, claiming "click bait journalists need to be taught lessons. Far less ethics and more click chasing in press today." Some were quick to point out, however, that Khosla's long-running effort to prevent public access to a beach did not mark him out as a dependable source on ethics. ®

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