Univision is buying Gawker Media for $135 million, just $5 million shy of the amount Gawker is supposed to pay wrestler Hulk Hogan, the New York Times reported tonight based on anonymous sources. Those sources, the Times reported, were “two people with direct knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not been made public.”
In a statement sent to iMediaEthics, Gawker’s founder Nick Denton confirmed the sale. The statement reads:
“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.”
Gawker was on the auction block following its bankruptcy filing and massive lawsuit loss to Hulk Hogan (aka Terry Bollea) for publishing an edited version of a sex tape showing him with his friend’s wife. The “deal is not final until approved by bankruptcy judge later this week,” the Times‘ Sydney Ember reported.
Vivek Shah, Ziff Davis CEO, wrote in note to employees: "we decided to withdraw once we felt the price and terms exceeded our threshold."
— Sydney Ember (@melbournecoal) August 16, 2016
Peter Thiel wrote in an Aug. 16 New York Times op-ed “Peter Thiel: The Onlne Privacy Debate Won’t End with Gawker” about his financing of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, which bankrupted the company.
In May, Forbes broke the news that Thiel, the co-founder of Paypal and a Facebook board member, was bankrolling Hogan’s case after Gawker published a 2007 story reporting he is gay. Gawker filed for bankruptcy in June.
In his Times op-ed, Thiel said “Gawker decided to make” the decision about outing him with its 2007 post. At that time, he said he hadn’t come out to everyone and “Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it.” He also pointed toward last week’s Daily Beast article which likely outed gay Olympic athletes.
Thiel called Gawker’s publication of the Hulk Hogan sex tape “beyond the pale,” commenting that Gawker previously “routinely published thinly sourced, nasty articles that attacked and mocked people.”
Thiel said he was “proud to have contributed financial support” to Hogan’s case, that he “will support him until his final victory…and I would gladly support someone else in the same position.” While Hogan was awarded $140 million, Gawker is still fighting the ruling.
Thiel went on, “Since sensitive information can sometimes be publicly relevant, exercising judgment is always part of the journalist’s profession. It’s not for me to draw the line, but journalists should condemn those who willfully cross it.”