The same day it filed for bankruptcy, Gawker Media announced on Friday that it has agreed to sell its seven brands, including Gawker.com, Deadspin, Jezebel and Lifehacker, to tech and consumer news publisher Ziff Davis.
"We are encouraged by the agreement with Ziff Davis, one of the most rigorously managed and profitable companies in digital media," CEO and founder Nick Denton said in a statement. "A combination would marry Ziff Davis' strength in e-commerce, licensing and video with GMG's [Gawker Media Group's] premium media brands."
The attached press release from Gawker said the sale to Ziff Davis will be conducted through a formal auction process made possible by its bankruptcy filing, noting that other bidders may make higher offers. Recode reported on Friday that Ziff Davis is offering around $100 million.
Compared to Gawker.com, known for its salacious and snarky scoops, Ziff Davis, a subsidiary of j2 Global Inc., is best known for PC Magazine, gaming site IGN, Computer Shopper and software company Salesify. Notably, the statement announcing the agreement mentioned the flagship site last, after the less scandalizing properties such as the sports site Deadspin, the DIY site Lifehacker, and the car and tech properties Jalopnik and Kotaku.
By far the largest tab on Gawker's bankruptcy filing was the recent $130 million award to pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, who successfully sued Gawker in a Florida court for publishing his sex tape in 2012. That claim, however, remains disputed as Gawker continues to fight and prepare for appeal. "The company is confident it will ultimately prevail in the Hogan lawsuit," it said, "but was not able today to obtain from the trial court even a brief stay without onerous conditions to seek relief from the appeals court."
"The sale and filing are intended to preserve the value of GMG’s pioneering digital news business, safeguard the jobs of journalists and other staff, and allow GMG to fund the appeal against the $130 million judgment in the Hulk Hogan case against the company in a Florida state court," the release said.
The statement made a nod to the very wealthy elephant in the room, billionaire tech baron Peter Thiel, who was revealed last month to be financing the Hogan lawsuit, among others, as part of a "philanthropic" project to shut Gawker down.
"Gawker Media Group is putting its properties up for sale after a coordinated barrage of lawsuits intended to put the company out of business and deter its writers from offering critical coverage," it said.