Final bids for Gawker Media are due at 5 p.m. ET today, and the New York Times has named Univision, New York Magazine, Penske Media, Vox Media and Ziff Davis as the favorites to take over the company founded by Nick Denton.
Back in June, Gawker entered into an asset purchase agreement to sell its seven media brands to Ziff Davis for a starting price of $90 million. The sale will be conducted via bankruptcy court auction, during which other prospective buyers can bid up the price for the company as long as bids are in before the 5 p.m. deadline.
Ziff Davis was the stalking-horse buyer, but the Times pointed out that it may be more interested in Gawker’s e-commerce business. We know Ziff Davis is willing to pay $90 million, but it’s unclear if that is the maximum.
The Times said Univision makes sense because it wants to appeal to a younger audience but “might not want to spend more money on digital investments right now.” The Times said that if Ziff Davis or Univision makes the highest bid, then Gawker could end up as a “small fish in a very large pond.”
New York Magazine “likely does not have enough cash on hand to buy Gawker Media by itself,” according to the Times. Penske Media makes sense it “has not shied away from buying down-on-their-luck media companies in the past,” according to the Times. However, the paper said Penske might not have the cash.
Vox Media “could absorb Gawker Media’s sites relatively easily,” according to the Times, and Vox Media editorial director Lockhart Steele is a former managing editor of Gawker. The Times said, “Vox Media could offer Gawker Media a deal in the form of stock. But Vox Media is not a public company, and valuing its stock is an inexact science.”
In March, a jury awarded 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, the jury tacked on another $25 million in punitive damages.
Gawker filed for bankruptcy following the judgment, which has also impacted the personal finances of Denton, who recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He estimates that his liabilities are in the range of just over $100 million to $500 million. Denton’s biggest creditor by far is Hogan, real name Terry Bollea, thanks to the multi-million judgment, which Denton’s filing notes is pending appeal.