Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel's attack on Gawker shows "the power of the billionaire class," the online media company's founder and CEO Nick Denton told CNBC on Friday.
Denton also said Gawker has evolved over the years, becoming more responsible. "I'm different than I used to be. And I think our writers and editors have also grown up," he said in the "Squawk Box" interview.
While Gawker has been known for controversial reporting, Denton said he and the public are sick of everything turning into an internet "flame war."
Denton said he was surprised by Thiel's decade-long commitment to lawsuits against Gawker, including financing Hulk Hogan's suit against the site. "I'm slightly impressed. It's kind of like a 'Count of Monte Cristo' revenge fantasy for billionaires," he said sarcastically.
However, Denton said he's glad Thiel is "finally out in the open" on the lawsuit, which provides the opportunity to see their "true interests."
"It becomes a story about the power of the billionaire class, particularly the power of the billionaire class in Silicon Valley. They have money. They have wealth. They have anonymity. They have special purpose vehicles. They have offshore accounts," Denton said.
"They are exercising their power from behind the scenes," he continued. "I think it's more important than ever that there be an independent media to hold them to account."
Denton said he wants the facts to come to light on the lawsuits against Gawker, which he said were "designed to drain the site."
In an open letter to Thiel posted on Thursday, the majority owner of Gawker blasted the co-founder of Founders Fund for funding lawsuits in a "vindictive decade-long campaign."
Denton also challenged Thiel to an "open and public debate" about journalism's role in society.