Gawker.com to Shut Down Next Week

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Gawker founder Nick Denton

Univision on Tuesday agreed to buy the six other sites that were part of Gawker Media.

The end of Gawker.com is near. 

The 14-year-old website will shut down next week, according to a post on Gawker.com

Univision on Tuesday agreed to buy the six other sites, including Jezebel, Deadspin and Gizmodo, that make up Gawker Media for $135 million, but the broadcaster did not plan to operate the flagship site.Gawker Media founder Nick Denton told staff about the shuttering of the website on Thursday, per Gawker.com. 

The closure of the website doesn't necessarily mean that those employees will be laid off. Gawker.com reports that staffers will be assigned to one of the six other blogs or other roles within Univision. 

Denton sent a memo to staff on Thursday about the shutdown of Gawker.com, confirming that its archives would remain. He teased that it could have "a second act" but only after "the smoke clears and a new owner can be found."

"Desirable though the other properties are, we have not been able to find a single media company or investor willing also to take on Gawker.com. The campaign being mounted against its editorial ethos and former writers has made it too risky," he wrote. "I can understand the caution." 

He also confirmed that he would not be joining his employees at Univision, adding that he would move on to other projects "working to make the web a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information, but out of the news and gossip business."

Denton also praised his staff for "introducing a new style of journalism" and "connecting with a skeptical and media-savvy generation by giving them the real story." He ended his memo with a tribute to the site that started it all: "As for Gawker.com, founded in 2003 and mothballed in 2016, it will love on in legend. As the short-lived killer android is told in Blade Runner: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly." 

The news hit just a few hours before a bankruptcy hearing in which the judge approved Univision's purchase of Gawker Media. During the Thursday afternoon hearing, which was attended by Hogan's lawyer Charles Harder and Gawker president Heather Dietrick, it was revealed that publishing platform Kinja would be liquidated.

Following official approval of the sale, Univision released its first public statement about the deal, revealing that it plans to integrate the Gawker Media assets into its Fusion Media Group, which also includes The Onion and The Root. Univision further confirmed that its deal includes six Gawker sites — Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker and Kotaku — but that Univision would not operate Gawker.com.

Known for its Spanish-language content, Univision has made strides to boost its digital media portfolio to attract young, English speaking audiences. The Gawker Media deal will boost the reach of FMG to nearly 75 million uniques, according to Univision. 

"Fusion Media Group is focused on serving America's diverse youth with digital-first brands that reflect their values and passions, authentically," said Isaac Lee, Univision chief news, entertainment and digital officer. "I expect the addition of these digital-first media assets will help FMG exceed the demands of the young, cross-cultural influencers we serve."

Added FMG president and COO Felipe Holguin: "The addition of these iconic digital-first brands give the Fusion Media Group an inimitable opportunity to scale across relevant content verticals and continue to serve key passion points for our audiences."

The closure of Gawker.com brings about the end of the popular blog, which, when it launched, took the media world by storm with its often salacious reporting about the goings-on of the New York elite. 

In June, Gawker Media filed for bankruptcy after a Florida jury ordered it to pay former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan a staggering $140 million in damages in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit. Gawker Media is appealing the ruling, but Hogan remains the company's largest unsecured creditor. Denton has filed for personal bankruptcy after the court determined that he is responsible for $10 million in damages for his role in posting Hogan's sex tape. 

Hogan appeared to respond to the sale of Gawker Media and subsequent end of Gawker.com in a tweet on Thursday afternoon, saying that "they messed with the wrong guy." 

 

 

After the conclusion of the Hogan trial, it was revealed that billionaire Peter Thiel had spent about $10 million financing lawsuits aimed at Gawker, including Hogan's suit. A sub-site on Gawker in 2007 outed Thiel, who made his fortune as a co-founder of Paypal, as gay. Thiel wrote an op-ed for the New York Times the day before the bankruptcy auction saying that he was proud to have contributed financially to the Hogan case. 

In his memo to staff, Denton noted: "Even if the appeals court overturns this spring's Florida jury verdict, Peter Thiel has already achieved many of his objectives." 

Publisher Ziff Davis made the first bid for Gawker on the same day it filed for bankruptcy, putting up a $90 million stalking horse bid. But the company, which owns PC Magazine and IGN, was ultimately outbid by Univision. 

12:40 p.m. PT Updated to add Hogan's response on Twitter.

1:06 p.m. PT Updated with statement from Univision.

1:25 p.m. PT Updated with Denton's memo to staff.

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