Gawker.com, pioneering web publication and the brainchild of Nick Denton, will be shut down as of next week, according to Gawker itself. The closure of the site comes after Univision’s winning bid for the Gawker Media company, which was forced into bankruptcy following a successful lawsuit by Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) funded by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.
Univision’s bid still faces final approval from a New York bankruptcy court, but is worth $135 million. Gawker founder Denton informed staff of the closure Thursday, but the site says plans for its archives “have not yet been finalized.”
Gawker was launched in 2002 by former Financial Times journalist Nick Denton, along with then-editor Elizabeth Spiers. It began life as an online gossip news publication focused on New York, but later widened its focus to the broader media industry and celebrity culture in general.
In 2012, then editor A.J Daulerio published a short video clip of Hulk Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, the wife of a friend. Gawker refused to take down the clip upon receiving a cease-and-desist form Hogan’s lawyer, which would ultimately result in the suit. Financial support for that suit, among others against Gawker.com, was provided by Thiel, who defended his role in the legal proceedings in a New York Times’ editorial earlier this week. TechCrunch’s Kate Conger and Anthony Ha offered some cogent counterarguments.
Univision’s offer for Gawker Media spanned all seven of its media properties, including Gawker.com. Univision plans to continue operating the remaining websites, according to a new press release from the media company, which include Jezebel, Gizmodo, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Kotaku, io9 and Jalopnik, and Denton provided a statement to Recode following new of Univision’s successful bid which suggests they’ll continue operations:
Gawker Media Group has agreed this evening to sell our business and popular brands to Univision, one of America’s largest media companies that is rapidly assembling the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences. I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership — disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism.
Update: Denton tells staff that Gawker.com archives will remain accessible even though Monday will be its last day of active posting. He also confirms what many suspected, that he will also be departing after the sale to Univision closes. He also says no one has been willing to take on continuing operation of Gawker.com in terms of prospective investors or media companies.