Gawker is a bitch that will not have Hulk Hogan’s money. Whether you were on team Hogan or team Gawker, the winner may have finally emerged. Of course not in an ordinary way, as there was nothing ordinary about the dispute between the two from the start.
A chapter 11 bankruptcy announced last week, was the middle finger that Gawker decided to put up at Hulk Hogan and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
Why did this company randomly declare bankruptcy? The reason is not as random as you think.
It all started when Hulk Hogan (who was secretly funded by billionaire Peter Thiel) sued Gawker Media for posting portions of his sex tape. On October 4, 2012, Gawker editor AJ Daulerio published a two minute extract from Hogan’s 30-minute video, including 10 seconds of explicit sexual activity.
Hogan claimed an invasion of privacy, infringement of personality rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, while Gawker’s lawyers asserted that the case could hurt freedom of the press in the United States.
Hogan sought $100 million in damages and in March 2016, the jury found Gawker Media liable and awarded the famed wrestler $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.
This $140 million isn’t covered by insurance, so it’s not surprising that Gawker made their chapter 11 bankruptcy announcement last week.
Gawker CEO Nick Denton said in a tweet, “Even with his billions, Thiel will not silence our writers. Our sites will thrive –under new ownership — and we’ll win in court.”
Peter Thiel has been no stranger to ruffling feathers with Gawker in the past. It almost looks like the billionaire was on a mission to destroy the media company.
The man who was one of Facebook’s first investors, $500,000 for 10% of the raw startup, may still be reeling from a Gawker post in 2007 that had the headline: “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.”
Thiel may have felt very uncomfortable with the headline shouting his sexual preference out to the world. So can we really blame the guy for wanting to take out multi-million dollar company with vengeance? Yes, considering that this does nothing for freedom of the press.
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our nation,” tweeted New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Like them or not, sad to see NYC media giant @Gawker forced to the brink.”
Gawker has agreed to sell all seven of its brands and other assets to the tech publisher Ziff Davis in a bid worth $90 million to $100 million according to sources. The bid sets the floor for the bankruptcy auction process.
Gawker said they were committed to finding a buyer that cares about what Gawker does. Denton and Gawker Media President Heather Dietrick have told employees that nothing would change in the day-to-day operations until the sale is complete and that the sites would continue to function normally.
David Houston, Hogan’s longtime personal attorney, said in a statement that his client has “every intention” to pursue that judgment, “whether it be in the bankruptcy court or any other court.”