Past Meetup

Peter Thiel Vs. Gawker: Ryan Holiday on the 'Conspiracy' that rocked the press

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Bestselling author Ryan Holiday in conversation with Inc.'s Jeff Bercovici.

Ryan Holiday is the internationally bestselling author of ‘Ego Is the Enemy’ and ‘The Obstacle Is The Way.’ Before joining the New York Observer as media columnist, Holiday was the director of marketing for American Apparel. His creative agency has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as many prominent bestselling authors, including Neil Strauss, Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss.

Holiday’s new book, ‘Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue’, is a masterful telling of the fascinating battle between popular gossip website Gawker and Silicon Valley titan Peter Thiel--an (almost) unbelievable saga that led to Gawker’s ultimate demise. Informed by interviews with all the key players, this case transcends the narrative of how one billionaire took down a media empire or the current state of the free press. It's a study in power, strategy, and one of the most wildly ambitious--and successful--secret plots in recent memory.

Attendance is free, breakfast bites and refreshments will be served. The first 80 attendees to arrive will be gifted a FREE copy of ‘Conspiracy.’

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9:00-9:30 AM: Doors open -- networking with breakfast bites and coffee

9:30-10:30 AM: #ScribdChat with Ryan Holiday & Inc.'s Jeff Bercovici

10:30-11:00 AM: Networking and departure

ABOUT THE BOOK: In the tradition of Janet Malcolm's ‘The Journalist and the Murderer’ and Robert Greene's ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ author Ryan Holiday examines the case that rocked the media world--and the billionaire mastermind behind it.

In 2007, a short blogpost on Valleywag, the Silicon Valley-vertical of Gawker Media, outed PayPal founder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel as gay. Thiel's sexuality had been known to close friends and family, but he didn't consider himself a public figure, and believed the information was private. This post would be the casus belli for a meticulously plotted conspiracy that would end nearly a decade later with a $140 million dollar judgment against Gawker, its bankruptcy and with Nick Denton, Gawker's CEO and founder, out of a job. Only later would the world learn that Gawker's demise was not incidental--it had been masterminded by Thiel.

For years, Thiel had searched endlessly for a solution to what he'd come to call the "Gawker Problem." When an unmarked envelope delivered an illegally recorded sex tape of Hogan with his best friend's wife, Gawker had seen the chance for millions of pageviews and to say the things that others were afraid to say. Thiel saw their publication of the tape as the opportunity he was looking for. He would come to pit Hogan against Gawker in a multi-year proxy war through the Florida legal system, while Gawker remained confidently convinced they would prevail as they had over so many other lawsuit--until it was too late. The verdict would stun the world and so would Peter's ultimate unmasking as the man who had set it all in motion.Why had he done this? How had no one discovered it? What would this mean--for the First Amendment? For privacy? For culture?

Some will cheer Gawker's destruction and others will lament it, but after reading these pages--and seeing the access the author was given--no one will deny that there is something ruthless and brilliant about Peter Thiel's shocking attempt to shake up the world.

ABOUT THE MODERATOR: Jeff Bercovici is currently the San Francisco bureau chief for Inc., covering technology and entrepreneurship, and a former senior editor and writer at Forbes. He has also written for Playboy, GQ, Details, Glamour, and the New York Times.