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Peter Thiel Passes Up Chance To Face Gawker's Nick Denton

Thiel's at war with Denton, but he avoided this battle.

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel didn't accept an invitation to debate his archnemesis, Gawker's Nick Denton, during a conference put on by another tech blog. 

Denton, Gawker's CEO, showed up Wednesday to talk with Recode's Kara Swisher, but a red chair reserved for Thiel remained empty during their conversation. 

Thiel is openly at war with Denton after secretly funding lawsuits by Hulk Hogan and unnamed others against Gawker and its related sites.

The bad blood dates to a 2007 article that outed Thiel as gay.

Recode said Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and is on the board of Facebook, never responded to its invitation to debate Denton. 

Without the drama of a face-to-face showdown with Thiel, Denton explained why Gawker’s mission is to target elites in places like New York, Hollywood and Silicon Valley, Thiel’s home base.

"A Silicon Valley billionaire is a hundred times, a thousand times more powerful than the average congressman,” yet receives less scrutiny, Denton said.

Thiel reportedly pumped $10 million into Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker for posting a video of the pro wrestler having sex with a friend’s wife. A jury awarded Hogan $140 million, an amount that if upheld would threaten Gawker’s ability to stay in business.

Swisher asked Denton if Gawker will declare bankruptcy. He said he believes the company will prevail during the appeal.

“We're looking at all possible outcomes. We have a bunch of hearings to go,” Denton said.

Thiel, in his quest to ruin Gawker, told The New York Times that he’s funded other suits against the media company but declined to identify them.

Denton criticized Thiel’s motives for attacking Gawker.

"Make it about the issue rather than about a personal vendetta,” he said.

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