Bryan Goldberg, the digital-media entrepreneur who owns Bustle Digital Group, has acquired the assets of Gawker.com, the media gossip blog that’s been dormant for two years, for $1.35 million in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction.
A Bustle spokeswoman confirmed that the successful bid for Gawker was by BDG GMGI Acquisition, a holding company owned and managed by Bryan Goldberg, separate from Bustle. The company declined to comment further.
The Gawker Media assets acquired by Goldberg include the Gawker.com domain name, social-media accounts and an archive of almost 200,000 articles.
It’s not clear what Goldberg plans to do with the remnants of Gawker. In a memo to Bustle staff obtained by CNN, Goldberg wrote, “You are probably wondering what happens next. The short answer is this — not much. We have no immediate plans to re-launch Gawker. For now, things will stay as they are.”
Gawker.com has been dormant since August 2016, after it was sued into bankruptcy via three lawsuits funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who was unhappy about a Gawker story that reported that he was gay. The legal woes led to Gawker filing for bankruptcy and the sale of six of the company’s websites to Univision Communications for $135 million in 2016.
Coincidentally, earlier this week Univision announced that it is exploring the sale of the former Gawker sites, as well as its stake in The Onion, with the Hispanic media company saying it will focus on its core business.
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In 2016, Thiel was revealed to have funded wrestler Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media, along with two other suits.
Thiel actually had been trying to acquire the Gawker assets — with observers speculating he just wanted to shut down the website and its archives — but backed out this spring, evidently wishing to avoid unwanted publicity and legal costs.
Hogan successfully won judgments for $140 million in damages in the case against Gawker, which had published a sex video showing the wrestler in flagrante delicto with his ex-friend’s wife. Under a bankruptcy court settlement for $31 million, Hogan — whose real name is Terry Bollea — is entitled to 45% of the proceeds from the sale of Gawker. (In addition, the article with the sex video of Bollea was deleted from the Gawker site.)
New York-based Bustle Digital Group, founded in 2013, targets millennial women readers, attracting nearly 80 million visitors to its publications: Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily, and the Zoe Report.
Goldberg’s winning bid for Gawker.com must still be approved by the bankruptcy court.
One of the losing biders for the Gawker assets was Kevin Lee, executive chairman and co-founder of digital-marketing firm Didit. Lee had intended to rename the website “Gawker for Good,” with a plan to cover “positive stories about celebrities and sports personalities within the entertainment, sports and music industries.” He had been proposing to donate half of all ad revenue to charities selected by both readers and celebrities who co-authored the content.