Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan may have been the catalysts, but the money is now on the table as Gawker, the ferociously independent news source, has been bought by media giant Univision in a winning $135 million bid at auction.
Tech, gaming and men’s lifestyle digital media company Ziff Davis was the only other bidder for Gawker, but Univision’s bid won the full collection of Gawker websites, including Jezebel, Deadspin and its flagship Gawker.com. There was nothing as of Tuesday evening on the Gawker website noting the sale.
Recode reported Tuesday that Gawker Media owner Nick Denton said in a statement: "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."
Recode also reported that Mark Patricof, the Houlihan Lokey banker who represented Gawker Media, confirmed the sale price.
Gawker had been the subject of much controversy before filing for bankruptcy, after Hulk Hogan and PayPal founder Peter Thiel won a $140 million settlement for publishing a sex tape of Hogan’s. Hogan received no settlement money because of the bankruptcy, though the sale of assets may change that, especially since Gawker is appealing the case in court and money will have to be set aside to deal with the funds owed to whatever side may win.
Hogan’s suit wasn’t the first time the fiery website made enemies, most notably with Theil, who seemed to have a vendetta against the Gawker group after a 2007 report on the now defunct Valleywag wrote a post saying Thiel was gay. He has since come out and recently backed Donald Trump vociferously at the Republican National Convention.
Denton founded the company in 2002 and last year argued that it was worth $250 million. With Univision taking over, there is no indication what, if any, role Denton will have in Gawker’s new direction.