Gawker Auction Elicits Bids from Ziff Davis, Univision (Report)

Gawker Media, forced into bankruptcy proceedings after being handed a $140 million judgment in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan, has received bids for its assets from two companies — Ziff Davis and Univision Communications, according to a Bloomberg report.

Ziff Davis had previously disclosed its interest in acquiring Gawker. The tech and gaming publisher, whose digital properties include PC Magazine, ExtremeTech and IGN, submitted a “stalking horse” bid of at least $90 million for Gawker. It’s not clear what Univision bid for Gawker.

“We look forward to the possibility of adding these great brands – and the talented people who support them – to the Ziff Davis family,” Ziff Davis CEO Vivek Shah wrote in a memo to staff in June, when its bid for Gawker was announced. It’s possible that Ziff Davis could shut down the flagship Gawker.com site if it wins the auction, and instead focus on other properties like Gizmodo and Deadspin.

A Univision rep declined to comment. Results of the Gawker bankruptcy auction could be announced later Tuesday.

For Univision, Gawker would build up the Hispanic media giant’s holdings in the digital arena as it continues to seek younger audiences. Univision has taken over full control of the millennial-targeted Fusion cable and digital news venture (after Disney exited the partnership), and in January bought a controlling stake in satire and comedy producer the Onion. Other Univision-owned digital brands include the Root and Flama.

In a related development, Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton filed for personal bankruptcy protection earlier this month. The Hogan lawsuit was funded in part by PayPal co-founder and billionaire Peter Thiel, who remains angry that Gawker outed him as gay in a 2007 article. Thiel has defended his previously secret backing of the Hogan suit as a check on media organizations that publish individuals’ private info.

In March, a Florida jury awarded Hogan $115 million after ruling that Gawker violated Hogan’s right to privacy by posting excerpts from his sex tape in 2012. Hogan received an additional $25 million in punitive damages a few days later.

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