Univision, the US Spanish-language broadcaster and digital publisher, has won the bankruptcy auction to acquire Gawker for $135 million. It beat media company Ziff Davis LLC, which had made an initial bid of $90 million.
The deal still needs to be approved by a bankruptcy judge. It covers all seven of Gawker Media’s sites: Gizmodo, Kotaku, Gawker.com, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Jalopnik, and Jezebel. Gawker founder Nick Denton confirmed Univision's winning bid in a statement.
Gawker Media Group has agreed this evening to sell our business and popular brands to Univision, one of America’s largest media companies that is rapidly assembling the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences. I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership — disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism.
Gawker filed for bankruptcy in June after losing a $140 million violation of privacy lawsuit against Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, who sued the company after it published clips of a sex tape featuring the former wrestler and his friend’s wife.
Hogan’s lawsuit was partly funded by Facebook investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who said he was “proud” to lend his financial support to the case. Gawker revealed the billionaire was gay in a 2007 article - Thiel said he had just begun to come out to those close to him at the time of its publication.
Female Lifestyle site LittleThings made a $10 million offer for Jezebel but was told it wasn’t for sale as an individual property (at least not at the moment) and that the bid arrived too late.
Univision is best known for its broadcast networks and radio stations, but it has expanded its online portfolio in recent times. It acquired a large stake in satire site The Onion earlier this year, owns network and digital publisher Fusion, and bought African-American news site The Root in 2015.