Gawker.com, the news site that attracted millions of readers with its insider gossip, scoops, speculation and a writing style that helped shape the voice of the internet, will close next week, the result of a defamation lawsuit filed by one of its targets, pro wrestler Hulk Hogan.
The site said Thursday that it was closing 14 years after Nick Denton, a veteran British journalist, founded it in New York and two days after Univision won a bankruptcy auction for its parent company, Gawker Media. It was unclear from a brief announcement posted on Gawker whether Univision – which has not officially taken over the company – was involved in the decision.
The Spanish-language television broadcaster agreed to pay $135 million for Gawker.com and its six related websites, which include Deadspin, Gizmodo and Jezebel.
Hogan won a $140 million judgment against Gawker and Denton earlier this year. He successfully argued that the site invaded his privacy in 2011 by posting a brief recording of him having sex with a friend’s wife.
The decision to close the site eliminates any lingering controversy for its would-be new owner, which is awaiting a bankruptcy court’s approval of the purchase. But it also eliminates Gawker.com’s massive traffic, sometimes as much as 15 million unique visitors a month, which is what attracted Univision to it and its related sites in the first place.
Gawker’s demise appears to fulfill the goals of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who secretly funded Hogan’s lawsuit and others against the company as payback for the site’s coverage of him. Gawker wrote several stories about Thiel’s personal and business life, including one disclosing that he is gay.
Gawker said Denton, the company’s chief executive, informed staffers of the news Thursday afternoon, a few hours before a bankruptcy court in Manhattan decides on Univision’s offer. Denton, who was found personally liable for $10 million in Hogan’s suit, reportedly told his staff on Wednesday that he will be leaving the company.
Gawker has said it will reassign its employees to its other operations.