Gawker.com to Shut Down Next Week
Gawker.com, the flagship website of Gawker Media, will be shut down next week after a court order to pay $140 million to retired wrestling star Hulk Hogan over a sex tape drove the company to bankruptcy. The development comes days after Univision agreed to buy Gawker Media, the pioneering digital news startup founded by Nick Denton, for $135 million. Univision's acquisition officially included all seven of Gawker Media's brands — including Jezebel, Gizmodo and Deadspin. Gawker founder Nick Denton broke the news to staff members on the same day that a bankruptcy court judge in Manhattan approved the Univision deal. Hogan, a former professional wrestler whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued over a tape posted by Gawker showing him having sex with a friend's wife. The case gained additional notoriety when it was revealed that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel had secretly bankrolled Hogan's lawsuit. Thiel was outed as gay by a Gawker-owned website in 2007. In March, a U.S. jury ordered that wrestling star Hogan be allowed to collect $140 million in total compensation after Gawker published the videotape. Gawker filed for bankruptcy in June in an attempt to sidestep a shutdown from the judgment. Denton earlier this month filed for personal bankruptcy protection in a bid to stop his assets from being seized. While Gawker has come under fire for its no-holds-barred approach to celebrity coverage, the case raised questions about whether powerful interests can use their resources to silence media for unfavorable coverage.