- A mysterious “Mr. A” allegedly inspired Peter Thiel to try and destroy news site Gawker.
- The Silicon Valley investor subsequently secretly bankrolled legal cases against the company, culminating in it shutting down in 2016.
- BuzzFeed News reports that “Mr. A” is a finance professional named Aron D’Souza.
In August 2016, irreverent news site Gawker shut down following a judgement against its favor in its long and surreal legal battle with pro wrestler Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan.
It subsequently came out that billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel had secretly funded the legal efforts in a bid to destroy the company — and according to new reports, he was aided in that quest by a mysterious “Mr. A.”
On Friday, BuzzFeed News published a story alleging that it was an Oxford-educated finance professional named Aron D’Souza who first suggested to Thiel that he try and take down Gawker via the courts, and that he quietly acted as a middleman in these efforts. He was allegedly known to Thiel’s friends as “Mr. A.”
Business Insider has not independently verified D’Souza’s involvement, and he did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
In an interview in The Atlantic also published on Friday, marketer and author Ryan Holiday — the author of a forthcoming book on Gawker — also alleged the existence of a “Mr. A.” Holiday didn’t name D’Souza, saying only that “Mr. A” was a “mysterious operative who put the plan in motion,” and that “his secret strength was to understand what powerful people wanted to see in a protégé or lieutenant and to make himself into that person.”
Back in 2007, Gawker published an article discussing Thiel’s sexuality that has been cited as the source of the investor’s animosity towards the outlet. The site also published multiple articles reporting on Thiel’s business ventures, and the investor once said its tech blog Valleywag was the “Silicon Valley equivelant of Al Qaeda.”
According to both accounts, it was “Mr. A” who suggested to Thiel that he try and use legal means to attack Gawker in 2011. The subsequent legal battle, centred around a sex tape featuring Bollea, ultimately resulted in Gawker declaring bankruptcy. Most of Gawker’s assets were subsequently sold to Univision for $135 million.
Aron D’Souza’s LinkedIn profile lists him as the managing director of financial firm Sargon Capital, and that he was educated at the University of Oxford and the University of Melbourne. According to his website, he is the Honory Consul of the Republic of Moldova in Australia.
According to BuzzFeed, Thiel has also invested $45 million in Sargon Capital.