Gawker CEO: Silicon Valley billionaires ‘can’t expect to hide in the shadows’

Gawker Nick Denton at Ignition
Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton Business Insider

Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton thinks there needs to be more criticism of billionaires, particularly in Silicon Valley.

“A Silicon Valley billionaire is a hundred times — a thousand times — more powerful than the average congressman, but subjected to a fraction of the scrutiny and accountability,” Denton said on stage at Vox Media’s Code Conference.

One of those billionaires — venture capitalist Peter Thiel — recently revealed that he had helped fund the Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media that has the company on the hook for $140 million.

Thiel said that he viewed his lawsuit funding as philanthropy, and that Gawker’s “very painful” reporting has hurt him and his friends in the past.

The Silicon Valley elite are not accustomed to criticism, Denton argued:

“They’re just not used to it. The money is relatively new. The power is relatively new.”

But Denton says that influence — and the imbalance of power it creates — means that the media has an even more important role of holding them accountable.

“They can’t expect to hide in the shadows,” he said.

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