As detailed by the Times and in earlier reports, Hogan first tipped the possibility of a backer when he avoided making a claim that would have let the news site's insurance company help out with its defense and any potential damages. Until now however, that was just speculation, before a report by Forbes named Thiel as the figure funding the suit -- at an expense of around $10 million so far.
Since cofounding Paypal, Thiel has been an influential figure in the tech industry, funding companies from Facebook to Airbnb. Now, among other pursuits including the well-known Thiel Fellowship, he's focused on what he calls a "singularly terrible bully." What will happen to the case and the damage award remains to be seen, although Gawker just had a motion for a new trial denied earlier today. He also confirmed it's not the only case he's doing this for, so if it doesn't shut the network down, there's always another.
Now that his identity and involvement are confirmed, the question of whether or not it's ethical to personally finance an extended war against a media outlet (no matter how distasteful or even damaging its content is) hangs over the revelation. I will offer my personal opinion in greater detail after I run it by Peter Thiel -- I'm not scared or taking a cue from Wired, I just don't want to wait ten years to find out I'm on a target list.