Gawker to be shuttered next week readers told in post
The six other Gawker Media websites – Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel – will be integrated into Univision’s Fusion Media Group, Nick Denton announces his exit from the company
The main Gawker website will be shutter following the successful bid by Spanish language broadcaster Univision in this week’s bankruptcy auction.
“After nearly fourteen years of operation, Gawker.com will be shutting down next week,” wrote J.K. Trotter, reporter at Gawker Media. “The decision to close Gawker comes days after Univision successfully bid $135 million for Gawker Media’s six other websites, and four months after the Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel revealed his clandestine legal campaign against the company.”
Univision beat out tech publisher Ziff Davis to acquire Gawker Media assets, with the six other site – Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel – the real prize being sought. Gawker had already closed down ValleyWag, its Silicon Valley gossip site in January.
In the end, this deal was similar to others made by traditional media companies who are looking to add audience, especially millennials, rather than attempt to build their own brands. As any M&A professional will tell, only a small percentage of deals end up working out.
Gawker Media declared bankruptcy following a jury verdict in the lawsuit brought by Terry Gene Bollea, otherwise known as Hulk Hogan. That lawsuit was concerning a short clip from a sex tape published in 2012 showing Bollea and Heather Clem, the estranged wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge. That lawsuit, it turns out, was funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who later spoke at the Republican convention in support of Donald Trump.
The verdict awarded Bollea $115 million in compensatory damages, as well as an additional $25 million in punitive damages. Nick Denton was dinged for $10 million personally.
Univision will now make the six websites it has acquired a unit of the company, while the site that bears the Gawker name is shuttered.
“The near-term plans for Gawker.com’s coverage, as well as the site’s archives, have not yet been finalized,” Trotter told readers today.
Technically, Univision has until September to decide if it wants the Gawker namesake website, but as it was at the center of the lawsuits it would have been seen as damaged goods. Both Denton and company lawyer Gregg Galardi had hoped that Isaac Lee, Chief News, Entertainment & Digital Officer with Univision, would consider keeping the site alive – and with it the staff positions.
Meanwhile, Nick Denton has already told staff that once the deal has been finalized that he will be moving on.
“Sadly, neither I nor Gawker.com, the buccaneering flagship of the group I built with my colleagues, are coming along for this next stage,” Denton said in a staff memo. “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.”
Here is Univision’s press release regarding their plans:
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 18, 2016 – Univision Communications Inc. (UCI) today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire digital media assets as part of the bankruptcy proceedings of Gawker Media Group, Inc. and related companies that produce content under a series of original brands that reach nearly 50 million readers per month, according to comScore. UCI will acquire the digital media assets for $135 million, subject to certain adjustments, and these assets will be integrated into Fusion Media Group (FMG), the division of UCI that serves the young, diverse audiences that make up the rising American mainstream. The deal, which will be accounted for as an asset purchase, includes the following digital platforms, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker and Kotaku. UCI will not be operating the Gawker.com site.
With this strategic acquisition, FMG’s digital reach is expected rise to nearly 75 million uniques, or 96 million uniques when including its extended network. The acquisition will further enrich FMG’s content offerings across key verticals including iconic platforms focused on technology (Gizmodo), car culture (Jalopnik), contemporary women’s interests (Jezebel) and sports (Deadspin), among others. The deal builds on UCI’s recently announced creation of FMG and investments in FUSION, The Root and The Onion, which includes The A.V. Club and ClickHole.
“Fusion Media Group is focused on serving America’s diverse youth with digital-first brands that reflect their values and passions, authentically,” said UCI’s Chief News, Entertainment and Digital Officer, Isaac Lee. “I expect the addition of these digital-first media assets will help FMG exceed the demands of the young, cross-cultural influencers we serve.”
President and Chief Operating Officer of FMG, Felipe Holguin added: “The addition of these iconic digital-first brands give the Fusion Media Group an inimitable opportunity to scale across relevant content verticals and continue to serve key passion points for our audiences.”
UCI announced the formation of FMG earlier this year as the multi-platform destination for the new, rising American mainstream, delivering content that embodies the audience’s shared values and passion points across all platforms. FMG includes The Root, Flama, Univision Digital, Univision Music, as well as Univision’s interest in FUSION, El Rey Network, The Onion, The A.V. Club and ClickHole. FMG also includes Story House, a content development and production unit that produces original content for UCI’s portfolio of owned networks as well as third party networks and platforms.