Worth re-reading: The Valleywag piece that doomed Gawker

Owen Thomas wrote to praise Peter Thiel, not to bury him.

There's no Apple angle here, but I don't like to see a friend unfairly tarred. If you think Owen Thomas' 2007 column about Peter Thiel's sexuality is justifiable grounds for murdering Gawker Media, I suggest you go back and read it.

Here's how the story ends:

On Sand Hill Road, like funds like. The clubby ranks of VCs are mostly straight, white and male. They instinctively prefer entrepreneurs who remind them of themselves. At best, it's a wrongheaded sense of caution. At worst, it's prejudice with a handy alibi.

The effects are hard to document. VCs fund so few of the companies they talk to that it's hard to prove a case of discrimination; there are a hundred reasons why they might pass on any given startup. But gay and lesbian entrepreneurs I've spoken to agree it's real. PlanetOut, the gay and lesbian portal, had to buy out Sequoia Capital, which had come to regret its investment in the company, before it found braver VCs and eventually went public. And really: How many out gay VCs do you know?

I think it explains a lot about Thiel: His disdain for convention, his quest to overturn established rules. Like the immigrant Jews who created Hollywood a century ago, a gay investor has no way to fit into the old establishment. That frees him or her to build a different, hopefully better system for identifying and rewarding talented individuals, and unleashing their work on the world.

That's why I think it's important to say this: Peter Thiel, the smartest VC in the world, is gay. More power to him. [Full text here.]

"I did not 'out' Peter Thiel," Thomas told the New York Times“I did discuss his sexuality, but it was known to a wide circle who felt that it was not fit for discussion beyond that circle. I thought that attitude was retrograde and homophobic, and that informed my reporting. I believe that he was out and not in the closet.”

4 Comments

  1. Tom Sidla said:
    Wow. That changes things. I mean, reading that article cast the story in a different light.

    0
    May 30, 2016

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