Biz Break: Omidyar, Thiel, Lending Club and Palo Alto Networks

Top Of The Order:

And Now In This Corner…: Well, if the latest reports about the Peter Thiel vs. Gawker war are true, then Gawker has just gotten a powerful, and very rich ally of its own.

The New York Post reported late Friday that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his First Look Media online news company are working to rally other media groups to file friend of the court briefs in support of Gawker as it appeals a $140 million award given to wrestler Hulk Hogan in an invasion of privacy case that was bankrolled by billionaire investor Peter Thiel.

Now, if you take a deep breath, remember that it was disclosed this week that Thiel had secretly been cutting the checks to support Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, and that Thiel has had it in for Gawker since the publication outed him as gay in an article written in 2007.

It should be stressed that, as of now, Omidyar isn’t publicly financing Gawker’s appeal. Still, Omidyar’s involvement in the matter shouldn’t be underestimated.

Omidyar, known for his liberal political views, is about as opposite from Thiel as one could get philosophically. Thiel has come out in support of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and Thiel has made no secret of his own libertarian and free-market political leanings.

Once it became public that it was Thiel who has been providing the financial support for Hogan’s case, Omidyar let his feelings be known in a tweet he put out Wednesday.

“So Thiel agrees with Trump’s plan to muzzle press that criticizes government, obviously. That’s why he supports him?” Omidyar tweeted on Wednesday.

The two billionaires also have a business history, as it was Omidyar’s eBay which acquired Thiel’s PayPal back in 2002 for approximately $1.5 billion.

As if the chance for two billionaire businessmen to get into the ring, figuratively, anyway, weren’t enough, Gawker founder Nick Denton, issued a long open letter to Thiel late Thursday, in which he took Thiel to task for what Denton called a “vindictive decade-long campaign” against the media company.

Maybe it’s a good thing this is all happening on the brink of the Memorial Day weekend? We could used three days off just to make a flow chart of all the trails of who’s supporting who and who had fired off the latest snarky missive in this drama. And by Tuesday, who knows what the circus might just bring to town?

Middle Innings:

A Lifeline For Lending Club: Just when you thought you were going to make it until the end of the week without another twist in the Lending Club saga, along comes a report that says the San Francisco-based online loan marketplace may just be about to get a helping hand from one of the biggest banks on Wall Street.

Lending Club is reported to be in talks with Citibank regarding the possibility that it my buy some of Lending Club’s loans, or provide the company with some other new financing. That was enough to give Lending Club’s shares a boost of 1o percent and close the week out at $4.81.

Such a move by Citigroup would help Lending Club breathe a little easier. Lending Club has been on the ropes, and seen its loan fall out of favor for most of the past month. Earlier in May, Lending Club’s founder and Chief executive Renaud Laplanche was forced to resign after an internal company probe found that $22 million in loans were made against the instructions of an investor. The investigation also found that Laplanche didn’t properly disclose an investment and that company debts were misdated.

Call Them Palo “Ow”to Networks: At least for Friday, that was the moniker security technology company Palo Alto Networks should have gone by.

Palo Alto’s shares fell more than 12 percent, to close at $129.86, a day after the company said a few things that got some people thinking that the excitement over network-security investment might just be cooling off. For its fiscal fourth quarter, Palo Alto expects to earn between 48 cents and 50 cents a share, on revenue in a range of $386 million to $390 million. Wall Street analysts had previously forecast Palo Alto Networks to earn 50 cents a share on $389 million in sales.

Rising expenses and slowing revenue growth were cited as some of the main reasons for Palo Alto’s Friday stock slide.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Friday…

Movin’ On Up: Marketo shares climbed 11.3 percent, and other gains came from Veeva Systems, Ixys, Advanced Micro Devices and Twitter.

In The Red: Decliners included SolarCity, NeoPhotonics, Aemetis, Workday and Fortinet.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.7 percent to 4,933

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 percent to finish the day at 17,873.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.4 percent to reach 2,099.

Quote Of The Day: “The Edge…There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” — Hunter S. Thompson.

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Photo: Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel in his offices at the Presidio in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. (John Green/ Bay Area News Group)





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  • simonts

    I am for free speech and media rights, except we could do just fine without junk “media” like Gawker is. And, privacy rights of individuals, whether Hogan of Thiel, are just as important as any other rights. The public has no need to know, no to mention no right to know, about Thiel’s sexual orientation, for example.