In this NYT article: "Peter Thiel, Tech Billionaire, Reveals Secret War With Gawker" by Andrew Ross Sorki, Peter Theil reveals that he has indeed financed cases against Gawker. Elaborating on the why, it's clear that Peter Thiel believes this is about deterring privacy invasion, not a personal revenge. The funding happened partly because “One of my friends convinced me that if I didn’t do something, nobody would.” Even millionaires like Hulk Hogan have difficulty mounting a case against a deep pocketed media company.
Mr. Thiel said that Gawker published articles that were “very painful and paralyzing for people who were targeted.” He said, “I thought it was worth fighting back.”
The Hulk vs Gawker case isn't the only thing that Peter Theil has donated some of his cash to, he's also concerned with journalism as a whole.
Mr. Thiel has donated money to the Committee to Protect Journalists and has often talked about protecting freedom of speech. He said he did not believe his actions were contradictory. “I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations,” he said. “I think much more highly of journalists than that. It’s precisely because I respect journalists that I do not believe they are endangered by fighting back against Gawker.”
He continued, “It’s not like it is some sort of speaking truth to power or something going on here. The way I’ve thought about this is that Gawker has been a singularly terrible bully. In a way, if I didn’t think Gawker was unique, I wouldn’t have done any of this. If the entire media was more or less like this, this would be like trying to boil the ocean.” Mr. Thiel said he had not targeted any other media companies.
Concerned about billionaires being able to fund cases they care about, I predict pearl-clutching in many papers in the coming days. Peter Theil on the other hand says that this is: “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done. I think of it in those terms.”