Anorak

Anorak | Peter Thiel bids to spike Gawker for good

Peter Thiel bids to spike Gawker for good

by | 13th, January 2018

Having almost buried Gawker media, Paypal tycoon Peter Thiel, is making moves to buy Gawker.con, the media company’s eponymous gossip and news site that’s been inactive for over a year. Why does he want it? The New York Times thinks it’s “to finish an independent journalism outfit that angered him in 2007 when it reported, without his permission, that he is gay, a fact widely known at the time in Silicon Valley.” Will he get it? “There are going to be multiple factors to consider, which will not be solely economic,” says Will Holden, the administrator of Gawker’s bankruptcy plan. Things like keeping the site alive, the archive online and it’s tone of irreverence intact?

In which case it’s worth looking at how Gawker came unstuck. Gawker went under in 2016. The law agreed with Hulk Hogan that his privacy had been invaded when Gawker published a grainy sex tape of the former wrestler giving it the Full Nelson. A Florida jury awarded damages of $140m to Hogan after a two-week trial. And, as the NYT says:

It also emerged that Mr. Thiel had spent about $10 million in secretly backing the lawsuit, a move that many Gawker employees interpreted as an attempt at revenge. Mr. Thiel told The New York Times: “It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence. I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.”

Are the super-rich the best judges of what’s in the public interest?

Business Insider has more on the offering:

Gawker, which has been inactive for more than a year, is conducting an auction of its remaining assets, including its domain names and nearly 200,000 archived articles. Most of its assets, including its sister pages Deadspin, a sports site, and Jezebel, a feminist blog, were bought in 2016 for $135 million by media company Univision Holdings Inc.

Thiel has not said why he wants Gawker, though the potential acquisition would let him take down stories regarding his personal life that are still available on the website, and remove the scope for further litigation between him and Gawker…

Some former Gawker staffers have tried to buy the site. On Kickstarter, they appealed for funds:

Gawker isn’t gone, it’s up for auction. The person who drove the site into bankruptcy wants to buy it.
We’re a group of former Gawker Media employees across editorial, tech, and business, and we want to put in our own bid to buy it back. We believe the site can thrive in an entirely membership funded model…

If we don’t raise enough money to buy the site, we will preserve the archive and launch a new publication under a different name. We’re bringing this back whether we have the Gawker URL or not. So if you miss Gawker like we do and feel like supporting our mission, become a member, tell your friends, share this project, and send us your tips. We have work to do.

The bid failed. Reports are the appeal raised $90,000, which though not too shabby is the kind of cash a billionaire has down the back of his manicurist’s sofa.



Posted: 13th, January 2018 | In: News, Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink