Home / Business / Media|Univision’s $135 Million Bid Is Said to Win Auction for Bankrupt Gawker – New York Times
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Media|Univision’s $135 Million Bid Is Said to Win Auction for Bankrupt Gawker – New York Times

Mr. Denton was known for saying that journalists too often share the most interesting stories they know only with each other at the bar after work, and the company held the value of entertaining readers seemingly above all else. Over the years, Gawker Media espoused a gossipy, wry tone that often made much of the traditional media seem old-fashioned. The company blogs now include Jezebel, which is aimed at women, and Deadspin, the sports site.

But Gawker’s take-no-prisoners approach has also been to its detriment. Mr. Bollea sued Gawker Media in 2012 over its publication of a video that showed him having sex with the wife of a friend. He has been unable to collect from Gawker on the $ 140 million judgment because of its bankruptcy filing. Mr. Denton, who is personally liable for $ 10 million and jointly liable for $ 115 million, filed for bankruptcy this month, listing $ 10 million to $ 50 million in assets and $ 100 million to $ 500 million in liabilities.

Gawker had revenue of $ 17.8 million for the year through July 21, according to filings in connection with the bankruptcy. It reported $ 48.7 million in revenue in 2015 and $ 43.8 million in 2014.

Mr. Thiel’s battle with the company began in 2007, when Valleywag, one of Gawker’s now-defunct blogs, wrote a post saying he was gay.

“I had begun coming out to people I knew, and I planned to continue on my own terms,” Mr. Thiel wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times that was published online on Monday. “Instead, Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it.” He wrote that he was “proud to have contributed financial support” to Mr. Bollea’s case and would continue to support him “until his final victory.”

Last summer, after Gawker published and then removed an article about a married male media executive who sought to hire a gay escort, the company was thrown into turmoil over disagreement about whether the post should have been taken down. Two top editors resigned, and Mr. Denton vowed to make the site nicer.

Since the verdict in the Hogan case was handed down by a Florida jury in March, Gawker’s typical defiance has been tinged with resignation. During a party in July at The Box, a burlesque club in Lower Manhattan, the drinks flowed freely, and so did cheeky jokes about Mr. Thiel and the company’s bankruptcy.

Last week, at its offices near Union Square, Gawker held its final party as an independent company. It was billed as a low-budget affair — the wine and beer were gone by 8 p.m. — and the mood was somewhere between reunion and Irish wake.

“We have shown with our backs against the wall the kind of character and determination and verve and style that I think we can absolutely be proud of,” Mr. Denton told a crowd that had assembled on the large staircase-cum-seating area that has become the company’s default gathering place. “In a week, we’re going to know the identity of the company’s new owner, and I’m hopeful and confident that the parent company that the sites will be under will allow them to thrive.”

In a note to employees, Vivek Shah, the chief executive of Ziff Davis, said his company had withdrawn from the auction “once we felt the price and terms exceeded our threshold.”

When Gawker filed for bankruptcy, Ziff Davis submitted a $ 90 million offer for the company. A so-called stalking horse bidder, Ziff Davis would have assumed ownership of Gawker if no other bidder had emerged.

As part of its agreement for being the first bidder, Ziff Davis will collect a $ 2.475 million breakup fee.

It was not clear what the sale would mean for Mr. Denton. Whether he stays on at Univision may not be up to him, and there have been indications that he may be ready to step away. In the last year, Heather Dietrick, Gawker Media’s president and general counsel, has taken on more of a leadership role. It was also not clear whether Univision would hold on to Gawker.com, the flagship site that was at the center of the Hogan suit.

Under Univision, Gawker will become a relatively small part of a large company. That could work in Gawker’s favor if it is allowed to operate on its own, without too much oversight from its new parent. But Univision, which has indicated in the past that it planned to go public, could also reshape Gawker in its own image. Gawker’s e-commerce business was also a draw for Univision.

Univision and Gawker had been in discussions about a potential investment before the Hogan trial, but those talks collapsed.

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