Embattled New York media and gossip blog Gawker.com is shutting down operations next week. The news comes just two days after Univision won an auction to buy Gawker’s assets for $135 million, and follows a long battle with wrestler Hulk Hogan and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
Gawker announced ceasing operations on its site Thursday: “Nick Denton, the company’s outgoing CEO, informed current staffers of the site’s fate on Thursday afternoon, just hours before a bankruptcy court in Manhattan will decide whether to approve Univision’s bid for Gawker Media’s other assets.”
Denton said in a memo to staffers that the Gawker.com archive would remain online, but that the site would be “mothballed” for the foreseeable future. “We have not been able to find a single media company or investor willing also to take on Gawker.com,” he wrote. “The campaign being mounted against its editorial ethos and former writers has made it too risky. I can understand the caution.”
Hogan had won a $140 million judgement against Gawker Media, its founder Nick Denton and one of its editors in March. The verdict was the result of a lawsuit over Gawker’s publication of a sex tape featuring Hogan, but was funded by controversial Silicon Valley businessman Peter Thiel in retaliation to Gawker outing him as gay years earlier.
Hogan tweeted about the shut down later on Thursday, writing, “They messed with the wrong guy brother.”
Gawker Media declared bankruptcy in June, and at the time was looking to sell to ZDNet for $90 million. In the end, Univision prevailed in an auction of Gawker’s assets. These also include gadget blog Gizmodo, women’s website Jezebel, video game blog Kotaku and others, in addition to Gawker.com.
Reports indicated earlier this week that Univision wants to extend employment offers to 95% of Gawker’s staffers, but it’s unclear whether this will include writers for Gawker.com.
Gawker was founded 14 years ago, and grew to become one of the internet’s most popular media and gossip sites. Gawker.com attracted some 18 million monthly U.S. visitors every month. The site was controversial in part due to its aggressive reporting on celebrities, which at one point included the “Gawker stalker” — a crowd-sourced celebrity sighting effort that turned the site’s readers into paparazzi.
However, Gawker’s coverage also included some major scoops, including its reporting on Rob Ford’s crack cocaine use, Hillary Clinton’s private email servers and its scoop on the iPhone 4, which Gawker site Gizmodo acquired from a source two months before Apple was ready to unveil the device.