Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared his strong disapproval of PayPal co-founder and fellow tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s funding of Hulk Hogan‘s lawsuit against Gawker on Tuesday.
“I don’t think a billionaire should be able to fund a lawsuit to kill Gawker,” Bezos said at the Code Conference in Palos Verdes, California, according to CNET.com. “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.
“Seek revenge and you dig two graves. One for yourself,” The Washington Post owner continued, while refraining from commenting on specifics of the complicated case. “How do you want to spend your energy?”
Bezos’ comments come a week after it was revealed that Thiel was secretly funding a campaign to kill Gawker Media by underwriting both the Hulk Hogan lawsuit as well as several other legal cases against the digital media company.
The former wrestling star, whose real name is Terry Bollea, won a stunning $140 million verdict in a defamation suit against Gawker Media earlier this year after it posted parts of a sex tape showing Hogan with a friend’s wife.
Thiel admitted to the New York Times on May 25 that he aided Hogan’s cause, telling the paper: “It’s 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.”
What neither the jury nor the public knew at the time of the lawsuit was that Hogan had a secret benefactor paying $10 million toward the lawsuit: Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of the earliest investors in Facebook.
Thiel has expressed venom toward other properties owned by Gawker owner Nick Denton. Gawker attempted to out Thiel in 2007 before he came out as gay. In 2009, Thiel was quoted as saying of another Denton site, “Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda.”
Earlier Tuesday, Denton told “CBS This Morning” that he had suspected Thiel was out to get Gawker.
“We have some suspicions [Thiel was bankrolling the lawsuits] but it seemed crazy,” Denton said. “He is, as we are, a beneficiary of free speech and free press in this country. He has very controversial views.”
Denton also told the CBS morning show that he had regrets about publishing particular stories, including one about the private life of a Conde Nast executive, but defended Gawker’s decision to publish snippets from the infamous Hogan sex tape.