Gawker Is Shutting Down For a Second Time

The Writers Guild of America, East said the site's closure led to the layoffs of 40 of its union members.

Gawker is shutting down for a second time. 

After first shutting down following a lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan, the pop culture and satire website was acquired by Bustle Digital Group CEO Bryan Goldberg in the summer of 2018 for $1.35 million. Bustle relaunched the site in July 2021, with editor in chief Leah Finnegan at the helm.

Finnegan tweeted that the site is now shuttering again.

“Well, after an incredible 1.5 years, BDG has decided it is done with Gawker 2.0. Can’t say enough about how proud I am of the site and all the brilliant people who worked to create it, and what a staggering shame this is. I had an absolute blast, and I love you,” Finnegan said in her tweet Wednesday.

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The Writers Guild of America, East, which represents Gawker staffers, said about 40 staffers were laid off, including eight members from Gawker, while the others were part-time workers from BDG’s Women and Lifestyle sites. The union also issued a demand to bargain with BDG over the decision.

“The WGAE is appalled by BDG’s decision to lay off nearly 40 of our unit members. This is the third round of layoffs over the last six months that have effectively led to halving the original unit from 200 workers to just above 100 workers. Today’s latest round of layoffs, and the closure of Gawker, came after more than two years of attempting to bargain a first contract with BDG, and on the heels of more recent bargaining dates being outright canceled by the Company. 

“The decisions BDG made today come with real-world consequences for the workers who lost their livelihood. The majority of these layoffs decimate the jobs of Part-Time workers in the unit — workers who were already paid below industry standards and received no other benefits from the Company except the accrued sick time that is obligatory under most state laws. Tough economic times and rising inflation are already creating greater hardships for our members, and we expect the Company to be more generous in its severance than it has been in previous rounds of layoffs.

“WGAE demands to bargain with BDG over this decision, and over the effects of the layoffs — something the company is obligated to do under federal labor law,” the union said in a statement.

A spokesperson for BDG did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, after a spree of acquisitions of once high-flying digital publications — Mic, Elite Daily — as well as legacy brands like Nylon and W, the Goldberg-led BDG is paring down its bets. Gawker‘s re-shuttering arrives after BDG closed down tech site Input last September. 

Gawker Media, founded by Nick Denton in 2003, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2016 after a judge in Florida issued a $140 million final judgment in favor of Hulk Hogan. Hogan had sued the site after it posted a sex tape of the wrestler. Billionaire Peter Thiel was later found to have backed that lawsuit and other litigation against the company.

As part of the bankruptcy process, the company auctioned its other assets, including blogs Gizmodo, Jezebel and Deadspin, for $135 million to Univision, which then sold those brands in 2019 to private equity firm Great Hill Partners.