Gawker.com will shut down next week, the company announced on Thursday.
Univision won an auction earlier this week for parent company Gawker Media and will retain the digital media conglomerate’s other assets while shutting down operations for the namesake website. Gawker founder Nick Denton informed staffers this afternoon of the often-controversial site’s fate, according to a message posted on Gawker.com.
A New York bankruptcy court is expected to formally approve Univision’s $135 million offer to purchase Gawker Media later this afternoon.
Gawker.com staff will soon be assigned to other editorial roles, either at one of Gawker Media’s six other sites or elsewhere within Univision, according to the site. Plans for the site’s archives have not been finalized.
14-year-old Gawker.com has been the center of controversy for years for its often snarky and gossipy coverage of the media landscape. Most recently, it has been under attack by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who admitted earlier this year he was bankrolling lawsuits against the company in an attempt to shut down the site that he claims once outed him as gay.
In March, a jury awarded former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan a total of $140 million after Gawker published portions of a sex tape featuring the wrestler and the then-wife of his close friend, Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem.
After awarding Hogan $115 million in damages in the Thiel-backed suit, the jury tacked on another $25 million in punitive damages. The site has filed an appeal over the judgement.
Back in June, Gawker editors published a story titled, “Here’s What Gawker Media Does,” that admitted, “Gawker Media has not put a lot of effort, over the years, into being likable. We have earned a long list of enemies.”
But the story was published to shed light on what Thiel was trying to destroy it.
“But the notion that Gawker Media — the company, encompassing seven web sites, that Thiel is attempting to permanently silence — is best understood as a platform for spewing hatred, or for bullying, is at odds with our own experience. And we can’t help but conclude it is at odds with a lot of other people’s experience,” Gawker editors wrote.
“If our lengthy published record of news, essays, investigations, satire, and criticism is ‘not journalism,’ as the refrain goes, then why has so much of it been cited, amplified, and followed by our more respectable establishment peers?”
Meanwhile, Thiel, who got his way, wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times on Monday that ripped Gawker for “routinely publish[ing] thinly sourced, nasty articles that attacked and mocked people” for monetary reasons and pointed to the Hogan sex tape as a prime example.
“Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it,” Thiel wrote.
Twitter reaction was quick and many are mourning the site’s imminent demise:
The Hulkster took Gawker down smh unbelievable
— DADITO CALDERONE (@TAXSTONE) August 18, 2016
Thiel is about to watch Gawker's diaspora of reporters seed their loathing of him into every outlet they work for https://t.co/NImnDPAHRh
— Andy Greenberg (@a_greenberg) August 18, 2016
That Gawker doesn't fit into a new company's business plan — even a fine new company! — is something, sadness aside, to be proud of.
— Will Leitch (@williamfleitch) August 18, 2016
A shame about Gawker, but feel a bit constricted by the choice between Nick Denton & Peter Thiel as moral avatars in this media parable…
— Dayna Tortorici (@dtortorici) August 18, 2016
gawker convinced a lot of us that, even while entering the workforce during a recession, it might still be worth it to try and write online.
— Rembert Browne (@rembert) August 18, 2016
If an eccentric liberal billionaire engineered the bankruptcy of Breitbart, i’d be sad too. (and I’m not saying gawker = Breitbart)
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) August 18, 2016
Sure, Gawker wrote a lot of garbage but it was punctuated by world-changing and often doc-based scoops.
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) August 18, 2016
Gawker's gone, Lochte is apparently a liar… How can we go on?… At dark times like this, I look to my idol: Harambe. Harambe never quits.
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) August 18, 2016
If Media Twitter were a movie, there'd be a slow clap for Gawker dot com building right about now
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) August 18, 2016
Gawker was good.
— Hamilton Nolan (@hamiltonnolan) August 18, 2016
The idea that Gawker went too far and that led to its downfall is silly. It was a dumb jury in Florida that did this.
— Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) August 18, 2016
— (((Jacob Shamsian))) (@JayShams) August 18, 2016