July 16, 2018
Bryan Goldberg, owner of Bustle and Elite Daily, has bought Gawker at auction
by Alex Primiani
It seems the saga of Gawker as we know it is finally coming to a close: CNN’s Tom Kludt and Oliver Darcy reported Thursday afternoon that Bleacher Report co-founder Bryan Goldberg has purchased the news site and its archives for less than 1.5 million dollars.
Goldberg, who now owns the women-focused news site Bustle, announced the acquisition to company personnel in an internal memo. The e-mail, obtained by CNN, included this:
You are probably wondering what happens next. The short is this — not much. We have no immediate plans to re-launch Gawker. For now, things will stay as they are. I’m very excited about the possibilities for the future of Gawker. I will share more in the months ahead.
The auction comes after almost two years of dormancy at Gawker.com, which was forced to close down after a years-long lawsuit by Hulk Hogan, his legal fees paid by Trump-friendly millionaire and known Gawker-hater Peter Thiel.
After the efforts of the ultra-rich had completely stripped the independent journalism site of all its money, the communications monolith Univision—a Spanish-language media empire—bought all of Gawker Media (that includes the flagship Gawker.com as well as Jezebel, Deadspin, Gizmodo, etc.) and rebranded it as Gizmodo Media Group. What remained of Gawker was a tainted backstory and thousands of archived stories by some of today’s most sought-after and influential reporters.
One of those reporters, Hamilton Nolan, now at Splinter News, wrote on Twitter before the auction: “Whoever buys it: if you screw up the gawker archives you will become a mortal enemy of dozens of very good reporters across the country. Just leave the archives alone. Thank you.”
Goldberg’s intentions (and reasons for buying the site) are, as of today, still unknown. The thirty-five-year-old media entrepreneur was the target of sustained ridicule while Gawker was still around; when he launched Bustle in 2013, Sam Biddle wrote, “Who Gave This Asshole $6.5 Million to Launch a Bro-Tastic Lady Site?” Today, he still hasn’t found much respect in the media world, and honestly who can blame us?
After the auction, Goldberg did e-mail with the Wall Street Journal, reiterating there are no specific plans of what to do with the Gawker name, brand, or archive. “There are a lot of people who have opinions about Gawker, and I’d like to spend the next few months listening to them.”
Alex Primiani is senior publicist at Melville House.