Gawker.com, the legendary, pioneering gossip blog and flagship site of Gawker Media, will cease operations next week, following the purchase of the blog network at bankruptcy auction by Univision.
The website’s future has been up in the air ever since the company’s bankruptcy and asset auction were announced, because Gawker.com is the particular website at the center of the Hulk Hogan trial — and the particular target of Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel, who was revealed earlier this year to be funding lawsuits against the company in pursuit of its destruction.
The precise terms of the Gawker shutdown are not yet known, and it’s not clear under what mechanism it will be shut down. Its archive, as of now, will remain online. Univision reportedly has until three days before the end of the month to decide whether or not to include Gawker.com in its acquisition. It might see holding on to the site not only a liability for its branding, but also a potential lawsuit target. (At least one other lawsuit against Gawker, likely funded by Thiel, was filed four years after the original article was published.) If Univision excludes it from the sale, the site remains with Gawker Media, LLC, the corporate entity fighting Hogan in court. The possibility that founder Nick Denton, who will leave the company, might hold on to domain and property is unlikely; Denton is said to have a non-compete agreement with the media conglomerate.
The other six sites in the network — Deadspin, Jezebel, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, and Kotaku — will remain in operation. Gawker.com’s employees will likely remain employed in some respect, most likely at other blogs within the network, or potentially other divisions like Fusion. Univision, a Spanish-language broadcaster, has agreed to keep 95 percent of Gawker Media employees and honor their union contracts.
This afternoon, Denton sent the following memo to Gawker staff:
I am relieved that, with the approval today of the agreement with Univision, that we have found the best possible harbor for Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel and Deadspin, and our talented writers and other staff. They will be joining The Onion, ClickHole and other beloved web properties in Fusion Media Group, the digital operation of Univision. Isaac Lee and the team at Fusion are fellow spirits, as committed to real journalism and an open future as they are to digital media expansion.
Sadly, neither I nor Gawker.com, the buccaneering flagship of the group I built with my colleagues, are coming along for this next stage. Desirable though the other properties are, we have not been able to find a single media company or investor willing also to take on Gawker.com. The campaign being mounted against its editorial ethos and former writers has made it too risky. I can understand the caution.
Even if the appeals court overturns this spring’s Florida jury verdict, Peter Thiel has already achieved many of his objectives. I will move on to other projects, working to make the web a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information, but out of the news and gossip business. Gawker.com may, like Spy Magazine in its day, have a second act. For the moment, however, it will be mothballed, until the smoke clears and a new owner can be found. The archives will remain, but Monday’s posts will be the last of this iteration.
I am proud of what we have achieved at Gawker Media Group, both in our work and our business, never more so than in these last few months
.Our bloggers – and the alumni now dispersed through the media from the New Yorker to the New York Times – have introduced a new style of journalism, sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes snarky, but always authentic. We connect with a skeptical and media-savvy generation by giving them the real story, the version that journalists used to keep to themselves.
Without outside capital, we bootstrapped a profitable digital media operation. With only the talent and energy of our writers and other staff, we have drawn one of the most influential audiences in digital media: our stories connect with 100m people a month around the world. In 2016’s dance of media consolidation, the company has found a partner that understands our appeal and character; not all will have that luck.
As for Gawker.com, founded in 2003 and mothballed in 2016, it will live on in legend. As the short-lived killer android is told in Blade Runner: “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly.”
This post has been updated with additional details.