Wednesday 2018-04-18

An excerpt from Ryan Holiday's briefcase post:

It was on April 6th, 2011, that a young man (who I refer to in the book as “Mr. A”) lucked into a meeting with Peter Thiel. As soon as the food had been ordered and the butterflies had settled, he seized the moment.

It would have been an intimidating moment to grab ahold of. He’s sitting down for a one-on-one evening with a man worth, by 2011, some $1.5 billion and who owns a significant chunk of the biggest social network in the world, on whose board of directors he also sits. Thiel is a man who is notoriously averse to what a friend would deem “casual bar talk.” He’s a critical thinker, a certified genius and a wily contrarian. With his stomach tight and every nerve and synapse firing, Mr. A would go for it.

Unlocking that figurative briefcase on the table, he begins, “Okay, I know what you think about Gawker, here’s what I am proposing. . . .” Ambition and opportunity have collided and the kid in front of Thiel is proposing a solution to that problem that Thiel has set upon trying to solve: Peter should create a shell company to hire former investigative reporters and lawyers to find causes of action against Gawker, the media outlet in question. Gawker has written thousands of articles about thousands of people; it must have made a mistake somewhere. Mr. A’s proposal is more than just an idea, it’s a comprehensive, structured plan: he has researched some names, he had a timeline and a budget.

Three to five years and $10 million.

And when Peter pauses to think the idea over, his initial reaction is not positive — it’s too hard, the situation is too complex, nothing can be done — Mr. A had the stones to double down and call him out: “Peter, if everyone thought that way, what would the world look like?”