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  • Geebo 10:03 am on February 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DeleteHQ, HQ Trivia, Peter Thiel   

    Has Peter Thiel become the kiss of death for start-ups? 

    Has Peter Thiel become the kiss of death for start-ups

    In case you haven’t heard of the app HQ Trivia, it’s one of those apps that has captured the imagination of smart phone users that hasn’t been seen since the days of Angry Birds. The trivia app works like a game show, broadcasting live and promises cash prizes to those users who can complete a series of trivia questions. However, something has happened that may put a huge dent in HQ’s popularity.

    Like most start-ups, especially ones that hand out money as prizes, HQ has recently received a round of funding from a group of angel investors. HQ’s latest round of funding has come from the Founders Fund group. Founders Fund is a venture fund founded by the infamous Peter Thiel. As you may know, Thiel privately funded lawsuits against tech gossip blog Gawker including the Hulk Hogan lawsuit which eventually bankrupted Gawker. Some have called this plot by Thiel nothing more than an act of petty revenge after Gawker outed Thiel as being gay even though it wasn’t the most closely guarded secret in Silicon Valley. Others have referred to it as Thiel buying his way to censorship.

    This new round of funding for HQ has led to a number of people to delete the app and has started the #DeleteHQ (NSFW language) movement on social media. Will this revolt actually affect HQ’s popularity or will the lure of free money continue to keep HQ Trivia at the top of the most popular apps?

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on January 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Peter Thiel   

    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet? 

    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet?

    It’s been reported recently that billionaire and Silicon Valley bigwwig Peter Thiel may have out in a bid to buy the remaining assets of the now defunct news and gossip blog Gawker. Thiel is infamous for admittedly funding the lawsuit by former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan that bankrupted Gawker media. Most of Gawker Media’s assets were sold to television network Univision, however, the Gawker website itself was left behind as part of a bankruptcy estate.

    So why is this news? Well, the Gawker archives are still online, that includes many stories critical of Peter Thiel and the story that started Thiel’s apparent vendetta against Gawker where Gawker outed him as being gay. One of Gawker’s former reporters alleges that if Thiel purchases Gawker he could potentially delete the archives and use copyright law to force any copies of them offline. While you may debate the merits or lack thereof of Gawker itself, this would be a dark day for journalism as it shows that information can be controlled if you have enough money.

    However, if Thiel chose to pursue this path it could have the opposite effect. Thiel is risking what’s been dubbed the Streisand Effect. The Streisand Effect is a term coined by the internet after celebrity Barbara Streisand who tried to have photos of her home suppressed from publication. What followed was a flood of Streisand’s home being posted online. If Thiel were to try to erase articles that were critical of him they would almost surely reappear in other places on the web. Not just that, but the web can be so ephemeral that once one story was removed, ten anonymous replacements would take its place.

     
  • Geebo 9:57 am on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Peter Thiel, Sheldon Adelson   

    Why is Peter Thiel doubling down on Donald Trump? 

    Why is Peter Thiel doubling down on Donald Trump?

    Donald Trump’s campaign for President took a massive publicity hit recently after recordings of misogynistic comments he made in private were made public. This doesn’t help with Trump’s image since many already view him as being xenophobic and racist. So one would have to wonder that after all this controversy, why would venture capitalist Peter Thiel double down on Trump by donating an additional $1.25 million to the Trump campaign?

    As TechCrunch points out, Thiel is not only an immigrant to this country, having been born in Germany, bur he is also openly gay. These are two camps of voters that have not exactly been supportive of Trump. A Thiel representative told TechCrunch that the reason Thiel supports Trump is…

    Thiel is motivated by his view that feels the country ‘needs fixing’, and thinks Mr. Trump pull it off.

    So the question remains, what does Peter Thiel think needs fixing in our country?

    If you go by history, what may need fixing in Peter Thiel’s mind is a free press that he may view as being a little too free. BY now we all should know about Thiel’s backing of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker in revenge for Gawker outing Thiel as gay. This is not to mention that there was an alleged Thiel backed motion to threaten Gawker further over a piece they wrote about Donald Trump’s hair.

    You could also surmise that the Trump campaign is friendly to a less free press due to another one of its financial backers, and that’s casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson also bought the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper that was previously critical of him. Since the purchase of the Review-Journal it’s long been rumored there that stories about Adelson are not viewed as newsworthy as they used to be.

    Trump is no fan of the media himself so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Trump and his uber-rich supporters to form a cabal of billionaires that are willing to buy their way around the First Amendment.

     
  • Geebo 9:55 am on September 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Palantir, Peter Thiel   

    Company founded by Peter Thiel sued for discrimination 

    Company founded by Peter Thiel sued for discrimination

    In what some may call a bit of irony, a company co-founded by Peter Thiel is being sued by the US Department of Labor over discrimination allegations. Security company Palantir is being accused of allegedly discriminating against Asian applicants. The lawsuit claims that Palantir routinely denied Asian applicants either at the resume stage or after phone interviews.

    Palantir is no mere tech start-up either. They specialize in tracking down terrorist activity and financial fraud with their software. They’ve been credited with assisting the government in finding Osama Bin Laden and have several government contracts with many military and investigative branches of the government. These contracts are said to be valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars and Palantir itself is valued at $20 billion.

    The reason some may find this bit of news ironic is because of Peter Thiel’s financially backed lawsuits against the former Gawker Media, most famously the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that drove Gawker into bankruptcy. It’s been alleged that Thiel backed these lawsuits as a form of payback against Gawker who outed Thiel as gay on their website. Some may even say that Gawker’s story could be considered discriminatory. So, on the surface it could appear that there could be double standards at play. However, if the lawsuit does have merit and is successful, it’s very doubtful that the government would order a settlement that would bankrupt Palantir.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Peter Thiel, , Tom Scocca   

    Gawker writer: Censorship is for sale 

    Gawker writer: Censorship is for sale

    True censorship can only come from the government since it’s the First Amendment that guarantees a free press. However, Gawker writer Tom Scocca makes the case that a free press is threatened by those who can afford to have the press bent to their will.

    In his post entitled ‘Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight’, Mr. Scocca makes the point that only one person killed Gawker and the man holding the smoking gun is none other than Peter Thiel. Scocca makes great points about Thiel’s personally financed vendetta against Gawker, especially with the infamous Hulk Hogan lawsuit. He points out that without Thiel’s backing the Hogan lawsuit was without merit since federal courts ruled that the publishing of excerpts from Hogan’s sex tape was considered newsworthy and therefore protected speech. It’s also pointed out that media outlets have insurance policies for such lawsuits and Mr. Scocca not only points out that the New York Post settled out of court for publishing pictures of two men they thought were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings, but also that in previous instances Gawker never had to pay anything close to a million dollars for any such mistakes prior to Mr. Thiel’s revenge by proxy campaign.

    According to Gawker, Thiel just kept throwing money at more lawsuits for anyone who perceived that they may have been wronged by Gawker. He basically bankrupted Gawker in a war of attrition by outspending them all because Gawker outed Thiel as gay, which as salacious as that may sound was also considered newsworthy therefore also protected. After the $140 million judgement was ordered against Gawker they were immediately denied any kind of appeal in court. That sounds a lot like Peter Thiel’s money speaking for the court and since the court is part of the government maybe Gawker’s death is true censorship after all.

    Peter Thiel should not be mistaken as some kind of privacy champion. Instead he should be seen as the public face of a number of entitled billionaires who are buying favorable press and financially crushing any dissension.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on August 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Peter Thiel, , Univision   

    Gawker: The Final Chapter 

    Gawker: The Final Chapter

    After losing its infamous lawsuit against Hulk Hogan and declaring bankruptcy, Gawker Media was purchased for $135 million. While tech media publisher Ziff Davis was an early suitor, the network of blogs under the Gawker banner were purchased by Spanish language TV network Univision. However, after the purchase was made final, it was announced that Gawker.com itself will be shuttered next week after 14 years of being online. Gawker founder, Nick Denton, announced that Gawker itself was unable to find a buyer while properties like Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker and Kotaku were worthwhile to their purchaser.

    While some may celebrate the demise of Gawker it has set a dangerous precedent that if you have enough money you can silence any media that is unfavorable to you. The Hulk Hogan lawsuit, and others, were admittedly funded by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel after Gawker outed Thiel as gay some years ago.

    If we’re not careful, we could be seeing the start of an era where freedom of the press could be squelched by the super rich elite if the media crosses them.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on June 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Peter Thiel,   

    What does Facebook’s shareholder vote say about a free press? 

    What does Facebook's shareholder vote say about a free press?

    Peter Thiel demonstrates how he choked the life out of Gawker.

    In a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Facebook’s shareholder meeting, Peter Thiel was reelected to the Facebook board of directors amid the Gawker and Donald Trump controversies. The vote itself really wasn’t much of one since, as TheStreet points out, Mark Zuckerberg controls 60% of Facebook stock which pretty much makes him the benevolent dictator of the Facebook board.

    With Zuckerberg basically giving Thiel a vote of confidence what does that say about Facebook’s stance towards a free press? As BuzzFeed points out, one of Facebook’s mission statements is “to make the world more open and connected.” With Thiel’s reelection it gives the appearance that Facebook wants the open and connected world to be only made in their own image.

    With Facebook being the primary source of news for many people, they wield a mighty big stick when it comes to determining what news people see. With Thiel’s reelection it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Facebook could start limiting exposure to news outlets that are critical of them.

     
  • Geebo 9:15 am on June 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Peter Thiel,   

    Will Peter Thiel be ousted from Facebook? 

    Will Peter Thiel be ousted from Facebook?

    Later today the board of directors of Facebook will meet for the annual shareholder’s meeting. One of the items said to be on the agenda is whether or not venture capitalist and Gawker lawsuit backer Peter Thiel will remain on the board.

    According to TheWrap The Writers Guild of America East sent a petition to Facebook stating that Peter Thiel’s presence on the board is too much of a threat to freedom of the press.

    “Facebook is the portal through which so much news, particularly online news, is accessed and even sent out now,” WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson added. “[News outlets] depend on social media like Facebook for their survival, for getting their message out, for getting their stories and videos out.”

    Another point of controversy is that Thiel is a delegate for Donald Trump. This kind of explains why Thiel’s attack lawyers are threatening Gawker with legal action over Donald Trump’s alleged hairpiece. However, could it also mean that with Thiel in Trump’s camp will this start a campaign where media outlets critical of Trump are threatened with legal action?

    So will Facebook take a stand in defense of the press or will they continue to support a legitimate threat to journalism?

     
  • Geebo 11:30 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Peter Thiel,   

    Is Peter Thiel suing Gawker over Donald Trump’s hair? 

    Is Peter Thiel suing Gawker over Donald Trump's hair?

    From the ridiculous to the sublime.

    Just when you thought the feud between venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Gawker Media couldn’t get anymore strange comes the news that Thiel’s team of legal attack dogs of Harder Mirell & Abrams are threatening more legal action against Gawker over Donald Trump’s hair.

    One of Gawker’s reporters, Ashley Feinberg, has claimed that she has solved the mystery of Donald Trump’s infamous coiffure. In a Gawker blog post she claims that The Donald’s hair is actually an expensive hairpiece produced by a company named Ivari International. Ivari, while being represented by Charles J. Harder, of the above named legal firm, sent a letter to Gawker…

    Thiel’s lawyer-for-hire, Charles J. Harder, sent Gawker a letter on behalf of Ivari International’s owner and namesake, Edward Ivari, in which Harder claims that Feinberg’s story was “false and defamatory,” invaded Ivari’s privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed “tortious interference” with Ivari’s business relations.

    As it currently stands, Thiel backed lawsuits are already draining Gawker of all available capital. How much more money does he think that his paid proxies can bleed from an already drained stone and is Donald Trump’s hair really the hill that he wants to die on?

    In this blogger’s opinion this recent threat of legal action shows not only how petty Thiel has become and not only how much he’s abusing the legal system but also shows how much he’s willing to strong-arm a media outlet into non-existence. What happens when a media giant like the Washington Post or the New York Times reports something about Thiel that he doesn’t like? Will he back lawsuits against them too and if so where does it end? What’s stopping other billionaires from funding lawsuits by proxy against the media? Will they all try to sue the media out of existence? Granted, that’s an extreme scenario that is unlikely to come to pass but how many journalistic voices could fall in the meantime?

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on June 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Peter Thiel,   

    Gawker Bankruptcy: A defeat for a free press 

    Gawker Bankruptcy: A defeat for a free press

    This past weekend it was announced that Gawker has filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the $140 million settlement awarded to Hulk Hogan in a lawsuit funded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel. However, while Gawker may have lost the battle the war rages on.

    While Gawker has declared bankruptcy to protect itself against creditors it’s not yet officially out of business. Not only is media publishing company Ziff Davis looking to buy Gawker but Gawker is exploring legal options against Peter Thiel to see if his funding of lawsuits against them violated any laws.

    As has been mentioned before on this blog, Peter Thiel’s and Hulk Hogan’s win over Gawker sets a dangerous precedent of billionaires being able to squelch the press if they don’t agree with or even like the content. It’s reminiscent of old gangster movies where a heavy would threaten a store owner. It’s almost like Peter Thiel told Gawker media “You have a nice network here, it would be a shame if something happened to it.”

     
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