Business

News site Gawker.com to shut down next week

  • 19 August 2016
  • From the section Business
Nick Denton founder of Gawker Media Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nick Denton founded Gawker Media 14 years ago

The news site Gawker.com will shut down next week, just days after its parent company was purchased by Univision.

Gawker founder Nick Denton told staff on Thursday afternoon, a post on its website said.

Media firm Univision agreed to buy Gawker Media for $135m (£103m) at a bankruptcy auction.

Gawker filed for bankruptcy after losing a $140m privacy lawsuit brought by former wrestler Hulk Hogan, paid for by Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel.

Mr Thiel funded Mr Hogan's case saying he wanted to curb the company's "bullying", after the site published an article that outed Mr Thiel as gay.

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Founded 14 years ago, Gawker is known for its no-holds-bar approach to reporting, including breaking gossip stories on high-powered celebrities and business leaders.

Univision is most commonly known in the US as the country's biggest Spanish-language media company. It also owns a 40% stake in the satirical website The Onion.

'Losing Gawker.com hurts'

In a memo to his staff, seen by the news agency AP, Mr Denton said: "Sadly, neither I nor Gawker.com, the buccaneering flagship of the group I built with my colleagues, are coming along for this next stage.

"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. I can understand the caution."

He added that he would move out of the news and gossip business but "work to make the web a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information".

A US bankruptcy court later approved Univision's purchase of Gawker Media, which owns seven websites in total.

They are: Gawker.com, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel.

The post on Gawker's website said plans for future coverage and its website's archives had not yet been finalised.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

Gawker employees took to Twitter to express their sadness about the decision to shut down the sites.

"Our other sites, including Kotaku, live on, but losing the vibrant Gawker.com hurts," tweeted Stephen Totilo, editor-in-chief of Kotaku.

Bobby Finger, a staff writer for Jezabel, tweeted, "I'm one of countless people who owes Gawker so, so, so much."

Another staff writer, Jordan Sargent, wrote: "Gawker is dead because Peter Thiel (w the help of Charles harder) has succeeded in creating a world where owning gawker is simply not viable."

Former Gawker reporter Sam Biddle wrote simply, "I am heartbroken".

Financial trouble

Earlier this year Gawker was sued by Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, after the website published a video of Mr Hogan having sex with the wife of a friend from 2007.

A three-week trial ended with the jury ruling in the former wrestler's favour and ordering Gawker to pay $115m in compensation and $25m in punitive damage.

Gawker asked the judge for a new trial, but that request was rejected. Many experts though expect that the original verdict will be overturned on appeal.

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