After being driven into bankruptcy by pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, Gawker Media was acquired today by Univision for $135 million, Recode reports. The sale marks an end to nearly a decade and a half of independent blogging outside of corporate ownership, the influence of which can be felt far and wide across digital media today.
What the sale means for the future of Gawker’s blogs — which in addition to the namesake site include Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jezebel, and a growing “deals” business based on e-commerce referrals — is not entirely clear. Gawker used a Section 363 bankruptcy filing, which, as Recode explains, allows the company to accept a bid that might not pay the most money, but will preserve “good” parts of the business. In other words, Gawker struck a deal that preserved the company’s editorial operation.
In a statement shortly after news of the sale broke, Gawker CEO Nick Denton said, “I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership, disentangled from the legal campaign against the company.” Denton praised Univision as “the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences.”
Publisher Ziff Davis set the floor for the auction at $90 million, promising to buy the company if nobody else made an offer. A half dozen or so media companies were rumored to be in the mix. They included Univision, which acquired the Root and the Onion over the past couple of years, and Vox Media, which owns Vox, SB Nation, and the Verge. New York Media, which owns the site you’re currently reading, also reportedly showed interest. According to Bloomberg, only Ziff Davis and Univision submitted bids this week.
The deal has yet to be finalized and is still pending court approval.
This post has been updated with a statement from Nick Denton.