Gawker will rise from the ashes in a new iteration of the website to be launched next year, Variety has learned.
The reborn Gawker comes under the ownership of Bryan Goldberg, founder and CEO of Bustle Digital Group, who was the winning bidder for the remaining assets of Gawker Media in July. Goldberg paid $1.35 million for the media gossip blog, which has been dormant for over two years after Gawker Media was sued into bankruptcy by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
In a memo to Bustle staff Tuesday obtained by Variety, Goldberg said he has hired Amanda Hale as the new publisher of Gawker. Based in New York, Hale most recently was chief revenue officer of The Outline, the culture website founded by Joshua Topolsky (who previously worked at Bloomberg Media and The Verge) that recently laid off one-fourth of its staff.
Goldberg is targeting the Gawker relaunch for early 2019. “We won’t recreate Gawker exactly as it was, but we will build upon Gawker’s legacy and triumphs — and learn from its missteps,” he wrote in the memo. “In so doing, we aim to create something new, vibrant, highly relevant, and worth visiting daily.”
The relaunched Gawker will be “completely distinct from our other properties and sit within a separate corporate subsidiary,” according to Goldberg’s memo, although it will use Bustle’s shared resources, technology, and business platform.
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A rep for Bustle confirmed the memo’s authenticity but declined to provide additional comment.
Hale, who has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, previously worked as an ad exec for political news sites including Talking Points Memo and The Nation. Earlier, she worked as a communications staffer for various political campaigns, including the Senate campaign of Barack Obama.
At this point, Hale and Goldberg haven’t made any editorial hires for the new Gawker. One question remaining is what will happen to Gawker’s archive of nearly 200,000 articles, which Goldberg also acquired ownership of in the bankruptcy proceeding. According to a source familiar with the situation, Goldberg plans to maintain access to the Gawker content archive.
Gawker.com has been dormant since August 2016. Lawsuits funded by Thiel, who was angry about an old Gawker story that reported he was gay, led Nick Denton’s Gawker Media to file for bankruptcy and sell six of its websites to Univision for $135 million in 2016. (Univision is now seeking to sell those sites.) Most significantly, Thiel funded wrestler Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker over a video the website posted showing the wrestler having sex with his ex-friend’s wife; a jury awarded Hogan $140 million in damages in the case.
Currently, Gawker.com and its archives are owned by BDG GMGI Acquisition, a holding company owned and managed by Goldberg. The Bustle Digital Group, which he founded in 2013, targets millennial women readers through publications Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily, and the Zoe Report.
Read Goldberg’s memo to Bustle employees about Gawker’s relaunch:
Over the last two months, many of you have inquired about Gawker and until now, there hasn’t been much to report. We’ve used that time to have a lot of conversations, which have greatly informed what will happen next. We can now confirm Gawker will relaunch, probably in the first half of 2019. We won’t recreate Gawker exactly as it was, but we will build upon Gawker’s legacy and triumphs — and learn from its missteps. In so doing, we aim to create something new, vibrant, highly relevant, and worth visiting daily.
Additionally, we are excited to announce that we have hired Amanda Hale, an incredibly talented leader who will help us with the Gawker relaunch and serve as Publisher. Amanda joins us most recently from The Outline, which she was instrumental in launching and building. She is the right person for this important job, and I’m very excited to work with her.
Gawker will be completely distinct from our other properties and sit within a separate corporate subsidiary. That said, it will have access to our shared resources, technology, and business platform.
This is an exciting time for us and we are thrilled to share the news with all of you first. As plans progress and we have further updates to share, we’ll continue to keep the team informed.