Gawker is being sold to Univision for $135 million
Univision will buy Gawker Media for $135 million, Gawker confirmed to Business Insider, as first reported by Recode's Peter Kafka on Tuesday.
"I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership — disentangled from the legal campaign against the company," Gawker founder Nick Denton said in a statement. "We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism."
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Univision's purchase of bankrupt Gawker follows a two-way bidding battle between Univision and Ziff Davis, which originally opened the auction with a bid of $90 million. Univision and Ziff Davis were the only two companies that put in a bid for Gawker, according to The New York Post. That is far less than the 40 potential buyers an investment banker representing Gawker planned to market the company to, Reuters reports.
Even though Univision has the winning bid, Kafka reports that the purchase "won't be official for a bit." The Univision deal will require approval from a US bankruptcy court judge.
It will also be interesting to see how Gawker fits into Univision, whose new media enterprise Fusion Gawker has ruthlessly taunted for its low traffic.
The sale to Univision doesn't mean Gawker's appeals process on the $140 million verdict won by Hulk Hogan will stop, however. Denton, who was forced to file personal bankruptcy because of the case, has been vocal about Gawker's plans to appeal (using the funds set aside from the sale).
In June, Gawker Media filed for Chapter 11 in a move that allowed Gawker to avoid having its assets seized while it continued to appeal the verdict.
"Even with his billions, Thiel will not silence our writers," Denton said in a tweet at the time. "Our sites will thrive — under new ownership — and we'll win in court."
WATCH: Why Denton said filing for bankruptcy was 'inevitable'
Gawker has since continued to publish, pay its staff, and appeal the verdict.
The money Gawker gets from the auction will go into a fund that will be used for future legal costs and any eventual damages, according to The Journal. If any money is left after the litigation concludes (i.e., if Gawker wins), it will go to Denton as well as Gawker's investors.
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, was awarded $140 million in damages in March stemming from a Gawker news article published in 2012 that included a clip of him having sex.
See photos from the case:
It was revealed in late May that billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel had secretly financed the lawsuit and others against Gawker Media to try to put the website out of business.
"I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest," Thiel, whom Gawker reportedly outed as gay in 2007, told The New York Times.
More on Thiel's New York Times op-ed ahead of the Gawker sale
Gawker Media was handed a legal loss in May when a judge in Florida denied Gawker's motion for a new trial. That meant the damages would not be reduced. The judge also denied Gawker's request for a stay.